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The Secondary Break: Friday’s Links

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Q & A: UCLA’s Steve Alford (CBS Sports)
Steve Alford’s hiring at UCLA was met with some resistance back in the spring, with many wondering if the Bruins would play the uptempo style fans have been yearning for. The Bruins have dropped games to Missouri and Duke, but overall UCLA’s played well. And in this interview, Alford also discussed USC head coach Andy Enfield’s comments from last month.

All offense, all defense: which teams rely on one side? (Big Apple Buckets)
The goal for a team is to be a balanced unit when it comes to how they win games, with the production coming on both ends of the floor. But there are some successful teams who have gotten the job done on one end while having some trouble on the other.

Drummond, Roscoe Smith better by leaps and bounds (Connecticut Post)
Andre Drummond and Roscoe Smith were two of the contributors on Jim Calhoun’s final team at UConn, a squad that was bounced from the NCAA tournament by Iowa State after winning a national title the season prior. And changes of scenery have worked out well for both, as Drummond’s proven to be one of the NBA’s best young big men and Roscoe Smith leading the nation in rebounding at UNLV.

Hogue blossoming into star for No. 17 Iowa State (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)
No. 17 Iowa State has some talented players, with forwards Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang and guard DeAndre Kane leading the way for the Cyclones. But forward Dustin Hogue’s been a valuable piece as well, with his rebounding prowess being a welcome addition to the program.

Colorado Buffaloes basketball invokes memories of past success (Denver Post)
With No. 20 Colorado off to a 10-1 start heading into its showdown with No. 7 Oklahoma State on Saturday, there are some who have taken the time to think back to the late-1930s. Colorado was a successful program then, and in a move that would be unthinkable today they turned down an NCAA tournament bid. Oregon would go on to win the national title in 1939.

Luke Winn’s college basketball power rankings (Sports Illustrated)
A weekly staple, Luke Winn’s power rankings are both entertaining and informative. Arizona and Syracuse remain on top this week, with Winn offering insight into topics such as Arizona’s late-game execution in a win at Michigan and how pesky Ohio State’s Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott have been on the defensive end.

Streaking UMass Minutemen eye national stage (MassLive.com)
Derek Kellogg’s UMass team is back in the national polls for the first time since 1998, and their goal is to remain there while also earning more respect nationally. First task after winning at Ohio on Wednesday: win at Florida State on Saturday afternoon.

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
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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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.