Chris Obekpa

Rysheed Jordan’s second half among positives to be taken from Sunday’s defeat

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While Sunday’s matchup with No. 2 Syracuse was billed as a big game for St. John’s, the Red Storm didn’t show up at Madison Square Garden ready to play in a game of that magnitude. Poor shot selection and play that at times seemed somnambulant resulted in a double-digit deficit, with a Rysheed Jordan basket as time expired cutting the Syracuse lead to 39-27.

Turns out that Jordan’s basket was the boost Steve Lavin’s team needed, and on an afternoon that saw the Red Storm shoot 1-for-17 from beyond the arc in their 68-63 loss to Syracuse there are positives to be taken from the result. The biggest positive may be the performance of Jordan in the second half, as his play on both ends of the floor allowed the Red Storm to not only close the margin but take a lead down the stretch.

Offensively the freshman from Philadelphia, who was one of the nation’s most talented point guard prospects coming out of Vaux High School, may not have shot particularly well from the field (2-for-8 FG) but his ability to attack the Syracuse zone off the dribble opened things up for the Red Storm. He also got the foul line, where he connected on all nine attempts. And defensively Jordan was a key factor in the Red Storm’s ability to keep Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis out of the lane for much of the second half.

A player who had some growing up to do and was even suspended for a game earlier this season, Jordan took a step in the right direction on Sunday afternoon. And if the Red Storm are to make a run at an NCAA tournament berth they need the freshman to build on his 13-point outing. D’Angelo Harrison scored 21 points to lead the way, and St. John’s put together much of its second half run with Jakarr Sampson on the bench with four fouls. Also, the rebounding (12 offensive rebounds) and foul shooting (20-for-26) kept the Red Storm alive despite their poor perimeter shooting. So there are clearly positives to be taken out of the defeat.

But they must become a more consistent team when it comes to perimeter shooting, regardless of their ability to make plays off the dribble. Entering Sunday’s game the Red Storm scored just 20.5% of its points on three-point shots, a percentage that ranked ninth in the Big East and will drop given their performance against Syracuse. And with it being likely that this group that has multiple slashers will see more zone as the season wears on, as opponents will aim keep them out of the lane, St. John’s needs to make strides in this area.

If Harrison, Jordan and the rest of the Red Storm can improve their perimeter shooting and late-game execution, they have the talent needed to be a factor in the Big East.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

Ernie Kent
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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
(AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.