Michigan embarks on “boot camp” as date with Arizona looms (MLive.com)
After falling at Duke last week Michigan bounced back in a big way on Saturday afternoon as they blew out Houston Baptist. But beating the Huskies and likely No. 1 Arizona are completely different matters, and the Wolverines are approaching the point where they’ll have all players available for practices. With this being the case, the team’s Monday and Tuesday practices will be a “boot camp” of sorts.
In Season Improvement Part I (Real GM)
There are a number of good thoughts in this piece, most notably the in season improvement made by teams over the years. Dan Hanner took a look at the efficiency numbers posted by teams coached by John Calipari and John Beilein while also noting ten coaches whose teams have done a good job over the years of improving throughout the course of a season.
Boston College basketball: breaking down the defense part one (BC Interruption)
At 3-6 on the season there’s no doubt that Boston College has been one of the more disappointing teams in the country. One critical reason why: Steve Donahue’s team has made no improvements on the defensive end after struggling in 2012-13. This is a really good breakdown of just one aspect of the BC defense to date, taking a look at how they’ve done in transition defense.
St. Francis-Brooklyn awaits college basketball comforts of home (Staten Island Advance)
Glen Braica’s St. Francis-Brooklyn Terriers are off to a solid 5-4 start, which includes a win at Miami and a six-point loss at Syracuse. That record’s come despite playing just one home game this season. They’ll play their second on Tuesday when former NEC rival Monmouth (now in the MAAC) visits.
Strong second half carries Zags (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga struggled some with New Mexico State in the first half on Saturday night, as the Aggies did their best to take away guards Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos. But the Bulldogs adjusted in the second half, with Gerard Coleman and Sam Dower figuring prominently in the 80-68 victory.
Ben Mills was ready when called against Kansas (Denver Post)
With starting big man Wesley Gordon sidelined with a concussion, someone needed to step up and provide some quality minutes for Colorado in the first half of their 75-72 win over No. 6 Kansas. That someone was seldom-used center Ben Mills, who gave the Buffaloes a needed boost during his time on the floor.
IU’s Assembly Hall: Its origins and its future (Indianapolis Star)
With news of renovations for Indiana’s Assembly Hall, the Indianapolis Star provided an exclusive look into what the exact changes would be for one of the sport’s most recognizable facilities.
Iona capable of reaching another NCAA tournament (New York Post)
On the heels of their solid win at FGCU Iona’s opened MAAC play with a 2-0 record. Guard Sean Armand and forward David Laury III have led the way for Tim Cluess’ squad, and the Gaels have the look of a team capable of making a return trip to the NCAA tournament. But they currently aren’t the top team in one writer’s rankings of the New York metropolitan area’s college basketball teams.
Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.
Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.
The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.
Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.
The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.
When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.
Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.
The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.
Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.
“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”
Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.
Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.
Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.
With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.
In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.
Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.
The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.
Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.
UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.
Having already landed one transfer in former Michigan guard Aubrey Dawkins (the new head coach’s son), UCF landed a second Thursday afternoon as former Drexel guard Terrell Allen announced that he’ll finish out his college career playing for Johnny Dawkins.
Allen, a CAA All-Rookie Team selection in his lone season at Drexel, announced the news by way of his Twitter account. After sitting out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules, Allen will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.
On a team that struggled throughout the 2015-16 season, winning just six games, Allen averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 32.5 minutes of action per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard finished the season ranked in the top ten in the CAA in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, with his assist tally ranking eighth and his A/T ratio of 1.9 placing him seventh.
With B.J. Taylor entering his junior season and Jeremy Carter-Sheppard joining the ranks this summer, the addition of Allen gives UCF another option at the point for the 2017-18 campaign.