Fred Hoiberg

Late Night Snacks: Diamond Head Classic championship is set

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GAME OF THE DAY: Santa Clara 66, South Florida 65

The Broncos came back from a nine-point deficit with five minutes remaining to knock off South Florida in the Las Vegas Classic. Freshman guard Jared Brownridge came up big for Santa Clara, knocking in the game-winning two free throws with 10 seconds left and also knocking in a go-ahead three-pointer with 53 seconds left on his way to 10 points — all in the second half.

South Florida dropped its second game in a row — by a combined total of six points — as Anthony Collins missed his second consecutive game with a left knee injury. Victor Rudd played and scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Bulls but was slowed by a dislocated finger and shot poorly, going 6-for-17 from the field.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 14 Iowa State 83, Akron 60

In the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic, the No. 14 Cyclones had a big second-half effort to reach 10-0 on the season, matching the best start in school history. Akron stayed with Iowa State in the first half before the Cyclones had a big offensive outburst in the second half, going for 46 points on 55 percent shooting as sophomore Georges Niang scored 15 of his game-high 22 points. The Cyclones now advance to the finals to face Boise State.

2) Oregon State 58, George Mason 54

Despite missing starting center Angus Brandt, who injured his leg in Oregon State’s loss to Akron on Sunday, the Beavers rallied to beat George Mason in the final minutes in the consolation round of the Diamond Head Classic. Beating George Mason isn’t entirely impressive for a Pac-12 team, but it was a solid bounce-back effort for Oregon State after a loss the day before and the Beavers showed resiliency in the second half by rallying from a deficit and holding a tight lead in the final two minutes. Roberto Nelson scored eight of his 17 points in the final minute as the senior knocked in a big shot clock-beating jumper with 41 seconds remaining before going a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the last 30 seconds of the game.

3) UNLV 82, Mississippi State 66

The Runnin’ Rebels struggled to a sluggish 3-4 start out of the gate, but Dave Rice’s bunch has rebounded nicely for five straight wins after the win over Mississippi State at the Las Vegas Classic on Monday night. UNLV jumped out to a 42-24 halftime lead and never looked back against the Bulldogs. Roscoe Smith’s double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds led a balanced Rebels effort that saw 10 different players score and eight different players contribute an assist.

STARRED

1) Radford’s Javonte Green had 25 points and found teammate Kyle Noreen for the game-winning three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining as the Highlanders beat Florida Gulf Coast 64-63.

2) Cincinnati had three players finish with double-doubles during its 102-62 win over Chicago State as Jermaine Sanders (14 points, 13 rebounds), Justin Jackson (19 points and 13 rebounds) and Sean Kilpatrick (21 points, 10 rebounds) all contributed in the Bearcats’ win.

3) Boise State’s Anthony Drmic went for 30 points in the Broncos’ 80-54 win over South Carolina in the semifinals of the Diamond Head Classic. Boise State advances to face No. 14 Iowa State in the championship game.

STRUGGLED

1) Loyola (IL) lost to Fordham 83-69 despite holding a nine-point halftime lead. The Ramblers have now lost after holding halftime leads of nine, 12, 14 and 15 this season while also losing two more games in overtime.

2) South Carolina State had a hard time knocking down shots as the Bulldogs shot 32 percent from the field and 18 percent from the three-point line as South Carolina State fell to Jacksonville 61-47.

3) IUPUI held a 13-point second-half lead over Southeast Missouri State before blowing the lead and falling in overtime 83-79. The Jaguars also held a six-point lead with two minutes left in regulation, but failed to score to put the game into overtime.

TOP 25 SCORES

  • No. 1 Arizona 77, Northern Arizona 44

Self pays freshman Jackson a major compliment

Josh Jackson, from Napa, Calif.,, dunks over Nancy Mulkey, from Cypress, Texas, as he competes in the slam dunk contest during the McDonald's All-American Jam Fest, Monday, March 28, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
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Freshman phenom production under Bill Self has been something of a contentious topic. Many fault the coach, who has won one national title and 12-straight Big 12 championships, for not developing one-and-done talent to their fullest potential during their single-season stays in Lawrence. Cliff Alexander and Cheick Diallo are Exhibit 1-A and 1-B for this argument in recent years.

Whatever outside criticism there is (Andrew Wiggins did go No. 1 overall just 2 years ago, after all), Self isn’t shying away from hyping the latest freshman with big expectations to come to KU. When asked who the greatest athlete of all-time is at the school’s annual Tradition Night last week, Self had a simple, if tongue-and-cheek, response.

“I’ll say Josh Jackson,” Self said of the the 6-foot-8 shooting guard ranked No. 1 in his class, according to Lawrence Journal-World.

With others answering with the likes of Michael Jordan and Muhammed Ali, it’s pretty fair to say Self was playing to the crowd with the answer, but it’s still telling that he was willing to deliver such a sound bite, even if it was before a welcoming audience. Self didn’t try to seriously depress expectations for Wiggins, a player Jackson is often compared to, and it looks like he won’t for Jackson as well.

Jackson, though, won’t have the burden Wiggins had as there’s one of the country’s best backcourts in Frank Mason II and Devonte Graham to help shoulder the workload for the Jayhawks.

 

ACC non-commital on HB2 stance

John Swofford
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With North Carolina unwilling to rescind their controversial so-called bathroom bill, the NBA has withdrawn its All-Star Game from the state this year and numerous high-profile music acts have canceled performances as a result.

The ACC is declining to join them with a hard-line, or really any, position.

“We don’t want to damage our league with any premature decisions,” commissioner John Swofford said on The David Glenn Show. “We’ll just see how it plays out.”

The ACC, of course, has quite the presence in the state with North Carolina, N.C. State, Duke and Wake Forest all in the Tar Heel State. Swofford’s comments are sure to draw the interest of the LGBT community, which has roundly been critical of the bill, which requires people to use the bathroom which corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate, and has recently been active in college athletics, opposing the Big 12’s potential inclusion of BYU in its expansion plans over concerns of the Church of Latter Day Saints school’s honor code.

North Carolina’s bill has also drawn the eye of the NCAA, which is requiring potential championship sights to provide information on local anti-discrimination laws.

One of the loudest voices in the ACC, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, has come out against the law.

“It’s an embarrassing bill,” Coach K said last month.

The Champions Classic renewed through 2019

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 27: Bill Self head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks claps for his team as they celebrate winning the Big 12 Conference Championship after they defeated Texas Tech Red Raiders 67-58 at Allen Fieldhouse on February 27, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas. With the win, Kansas clinched its 12th straight conference championship. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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The Champions Classic is back, baby!!!

On Wednesday, the four schools that participate in the event — Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Michigan State — announced that they have signed deals to extend the life of the doubleheader for another three years.

This is terrific news. The Champions Classic is always the best early-season event of the season, an annual double-header that always ends up putting together two of the best non-conference games in packed NBA arenas. This year, it features Duke, the consensus preseason No. 1 team in the country, squaring off with Kansas, who is a consensus top three team with the No. 1 freshman in the class, Josh Jackson, on their roster, in one game.

The other game? Kentucky, the third consensus top three team nationally, going up against Tom Izzo and Michigan State, who will be, at worst, a top 15 team in the preseason polls.

So yeah, we’re going to get a pair of sensational basketball games in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15th. MSG also just so happens to be the best arena to watch a great neutral site basketball game.

It’s going to be awesome.

There’s only one possible way to make it better: turn it into a two-day event, with the winners squaring off for the Champions Classic title the following night.

Make it happen.

Anyway, here’s the schedule:

Nov. 14, 2017 (United Center, Chicago)
Kansas vs. Kentucky
Duke vs. Michigan State

Nov. 13, 2018 (Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis)
Michigan State vs. Kansas
Duke vs. Kentucky

Nov. 12, 2019 (Madison Square Garden, New York)
Kansas vs. Duke
Michigan State vs. Kentucky

Hartford makes smart decision to allow ‘Pancake’ Thomas transfer

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Hartford coach John Gallagher, AP Photo
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Another talented graduate transfer has hit the market.

Cleveland ‘Pancake’ Thomas — that’s a helluva name, isn’t it? — has been granted a release by Hartford and will be allowed to transfer to another program for his fifth season.

“Our biggest priority for Cleveland was that he graduate from the University of Hartford with a valuable degree,” Hartford head coach John Gallagher said in a statement released to ESPN after some speculation that Thomas wasn’t going to be given a release. “That happened. Beyond wishing him the very best, we don’t comment on other program’s players. We are very excited about our group and the upcoming season.”

The term “release” is needed here because Thomas, a 6-foot-3 guard who averaged 18.9 points and shot 42.6 percent from three this past season, spent his first two years of eligibility at New Mexico. A graduate transfer exception is granted to any player making their first transfer after receiving an undergraduate degree. But since Pancake had already transferred once, he was only eligible to apply for a graduate transfer waiver, which the school he is leaving must support.

Remember the saga of Todd O’Brien? He tried to leave St. Joseph’s to spend his fifth-year at UAB but made headlines everywhere when Phil Martelli wouldn’t let it happen? That’s because O’Brien had started his career at Bucknell and needed Martelli to support the waiver.

Gallagher could have done the same to Pancake.

He made the right decision not to — Martelli has enough coaching cache to withstand the onslaught on criticism he received, I’m not sure that is true for Gallagher — even if it will result in Thomas playing elsewhere, hence the cold-hearted nature of that statement.

Anyway, Thomas never averaged more than 3.9 points at New Mexico, so while he’s a tantalizing prospect for programs that are dying for perimeter depth and shooting, this isn’t exactly a kid that’s going to launch himself into the NBA Draft’s first round by jumping up to a higher level.

Shawn Forrest named assistant coach for Jankovich at SMU

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 22:  Head coach Larry Brown (L) and associate head coach Tim Jankovich of the Southern Methodist Mustangs look on during the team's game against the Kent State Golden Flashes during the 2015 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena on December 22, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Southern Methodist won 90-74. The game marks Brown's return from a nine-game suspension.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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DALLAS (AP) Shawn Forrest has been named an assistant basketball coach at SMU, his third school since the end of last season.

Mustangs coach Tim Jankovich announced Forrest’s hiring Tuesday.

Forrest spent the past three seasons as an assistant at Western Kentucky before head coach Ray Harper resigned. Forrest was named a UTSA assistant in May, but two weeks later left for Louisiana Tech before the unexpected opening at SMU.

Jankovich was SMU’s associate head coach before the abrupt resignation last month of Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown. Forrest fills the open assistant spot created on the staff when Jankovich was promoted to head coach.

Before Western Kentucky, Forrest was an assistant coach at Louisiana-Lafayette, North Texas, Arkansas State and Florida A&M.