C.J. Fair

Sunday’s Pregame Shootaround: Syracuse and St. John’s battle in the Garden

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 2 Syracuse vs. St. John’s, noon (Fox Sports 1)

It’s an old school Big East battle inside Madison Square Garden. Sunday won’t get much better than that. The Johnnies are looking to defeated their in-state rival for the first time since 2007, and in the process earning a huge non-conference win. It won’t be easy for the Red Storm, as the Orange enter MSG unbeaten.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? La Salle over No. 10 Villanova, 2:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)

Villanova has skyrocketed up the rankings over the past few weeks since winning the Battle 4 Atlantis. In their first two Big 5 games, the Wildcats have breezed past Penn and St. Joseph’s. For the third straight game, Villanova goes head-to-head with a Philly rival. La Salle is just above .500 with a 5-4  record, but the Explorers are still a dangerous team.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Norfolk State vs. Boston University, 1 p.m.

The Terriers welcome the Spartans to Case Gym on Sunday afternoon in Boston. This game is part of a challenging portion of BU’s schedule. Since last Saturday, the Terriers have lost games to Harvard and George Washington. This afternoon BU plays host to the MEAC favorite, a team looking to add its eighth win of the year on the road against the Patriot League contender.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) Jordan Clarkson has been an impact transfer for Missouri leading them to a 9-0 record — with wins over West Virginia and UCLA this month — and has the Tigers in the top 25. Clarkson and Mizzou look to remain perfect in a game against MAC opponent Western Michigan, which has a talented guard of its own in David Brown.

2) Drexel and Davidson meet in a good mid-major matchup. Davidson put together another tough out-of-conference schedule. A win would go a long way, especially with games against North Carolina and Wichita State left on the non-conference schedule.

3) The Hall of Fame coach Herb Magee and his Division II Philadelphia University, make the trip to Chestnut Hill to play Boston College, a team in that has lost three straight.

4) UC Santa Barbara has already knocked off UNLV and Cal this season, while almost leaving Pauley Pavilion with an upset win over UCLA. The Gauchos should not be overlooked as they take on the San Diego (8-3).

5) Stony Brook, the favorite in the American East, begins conference play on Sunday against New Hampshire. Vermont, another contender in the American East, gets a good test with Quinnipiac.

THE TOP 25:

  • No. 2 Syracuse vs. St. John’s, noon (Fox Sports 1)
  • La Salle vs. No. 10 Villanova, 2:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
  • Western Michigan vs. No. 24 Missouri, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)

NOTABLES:

  • Philadelphia University vs. Boston College, noon
  • Manhattan vs. UNC-Wilmington, 2 p.m.
  • Stephen F. Austin vs. North Texas, 2 p.m.
  • Drexel vs. Davidson, 2 p.m.
  • Chicago State vs. DePaul, 4:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
  • UC Santa Barbara vs. San Diego, 5 p.m.
  • UC Irvine vs. Eastern Washington, 5:05 p.m.
  • Troy vs. Kansas State, 6 p.m.
  • Georgia Southern vs. UAB, 8 p.m.
  • Pepperdine vs. Washington State, 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
  • CSU Bakersfield vs. USC, 10 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

VIDEO: University of New Orleans aids area flood victims

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After over 20 inches of rain fell over three days and over 60,000 homes were damaged in southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger called his acquaintance, John Derenbecker, in the area to check in. Derenbecker and his family were fine, Slessinger learned, but many in the area were not.

I told (Derenbecker) to figure out who needed the help the most,” Slessinger told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “that I had my whole crew who could come help out on Saturday and Sunday.”

That led Slessinger and his team to the home of an elderly couple, Elbert and Ione Norred, whose house was ravaged by over four feet of flood water. The Privateers helped slog out debris, cut away wet insulation and whatever else needed removing from the soaked home.

“I appreciate everything you have done,” Ione Elbert told the Privateers. “Nobody knows how long it would have taken us to have done this.”

The Red Cross estimates that the relief effort for the flooding could cost upwards of $30 million in the region. To make a donation to the organization call 1-800-RED CROSS.

UNO’s baseball team also got in on the aid effort, heading to Baton Rouge over the weekend.

“We are proud to see our student-athletes, coaches and staff serve our fellow Louisianians in their time of need,” UNO Director of Athletics Derek Morel said in a statement. “The men and women of our program understand the importance of serving others and using our resources to help those in less-fortunate situations. We will continue to play for neighbors.”

Rutgers land 7-foot grad transfer from UNC Wilmington

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Brandon Ingram #14 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket as he is defended by C.J. Gettys #23 of the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks in the second half of their game 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 Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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Rutgers landed a commitment from seven-footer C.J. Gettys on Monday night.

Gettys is a graduate transfer from UNC-Wilmington, where he averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 blocks for a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Gettys is a slow-footed back-to-the-basket player, however, and that didn’t exactly fit with the way that UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts likes to play; think Shaka Smart’s VCU teams.

So Gettys opted for Rutgers, picking the Scarlet Knights over Dayton, Purdue and Chattanooga.

He is the fifth member of new head coach Steve Pikiell’s first recruiting class.

VIDEO: Seventh Woods dunks on UNC student

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Some poor UNC student decided that he was going to try and block Seventh Woods, a freshman point guard for the Tar Heels, on a dunk attempt.

What ended up happening was that he got windmilled on.

To quote Samuel L. Jackson, as portrayed the great philosopher Dave Chappelle, “You ain’t never seen my movies?” Woods was doing this as a freshman … in HIGH SCHOOL.

Former National Player of the Year Michael Brooks dies at 58

Brooks for All-American Brochure
Courtesy La Salle Athletics
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A Philadelphia basketball legend and a former National Player of the Year passed away on Monday night.

Michael Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward who was named the NABC National Player of the Year in 1980, died in Switzerland on Monday night due to a massive stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He was just 58 years old.

Brooks finished his career with 2,628 points and 1,372 rebounds. He never averaged less than 20 points in his four seasons in college. (Think about that for a second.) He was the No. 9 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and averaged double-figures for four years before season-ending knee injuries sent him to Europe to play. Brooks was also named the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that missed out on the Moscow games due to the USA’s boycott.

Brooks, according to the Inquirer, had aplastic anemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant last week. His body rejected the marrow, which resulted in the strokes that ended his life.

UCLA cruises in opener on Australian tour

UCLA head coach Steve Alford, second from right, watches action against Cal Poly with his assistant coaches in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Baker)
AP Photo/Michael Baker
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UCLA, who will be the most interesting team in all of college basketball this season, played their first game of an Australian tour on Tuesday morning, and they won in pretty impressive fashion.

The Bruins had triple digits on the board early in the fourth quarter, eventually beating a club in Sydney by the score of 123-76. For comparison’s sake, Washington and potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz beat the same team 101-80 a couple of weeks ago, so the win and the margin of victory is somewhat impressive.

Also worth noting: None of UCLA’s freshmen started. Steve Alford rolled with Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton on the perimeter — Holiday and Hamilton combined for 27 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Alford had 17 points on just 10 shots — with G.G. Golomon and Thomas Welsh up front.

But the noteworthy performances here were from the McDonald’s All-Americans that Steve Alford brought into the program. In his first game in the blue and gold, Lonzo Ball, a potential top ten pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was just OK. He finished with nine points and four assists while shooting 3-for-9 from the floor. Leaf, however, was terrific, as he led the team with 21 points to go along with nine boards and three assists.

The first exhibition game is hardly a great way to predict how a season is going to play out, but given the pressure and expectations currently surrounding the program, everything the Bruins do this season is going to be scrutinized.

This isn’t a bad way to start.