Central Connecticut State guard Kyle Vinales out 5-6 weeks with broken finger

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Less than two weeks after it was announced that senior Matt Hunter was academically ineligible, Central Connecticut State received some more bad news on the eve of the start of Northeast Conference play.

According to Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant, junior guard and leading scorer Kyle Vinales will miss anywhere from five to six weeks after breaking the ring finger on his right (shooting) hand while lifting weights. Vinales, who averaged 21.6 points per game as a sophomore, is currently averaging 17.4 points and 3.7 assists per game for the Blue Devils, who are 4-9 on the season.

With Vinales out the Blue Devils’ other two double-figure scorers, freshman forward Faronte McDonald (12.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and junior guard Malcolm McMillan (10.1, 3.2, 3.2 apg) will be asked to do even more beginning with their game against Wagner on Thursday night. To say the least, this is a big personnel loss for CCSU.

“You hate to see it happen to someone who works so hard,” coach Howie Dickenman said. “The saying is that you can never have enough players, even when you have 13 or 14. Now, well, you can never have enough players.”

In an interesting scheduling “quirk,” Central Connecticut State will play its first four NEC games in New Britain, with Thursday’s opener followed by games against Saint Francis (PA), St. Francis Brooklyn and LIU Brooklyn. After that game against LIU, which has won the last three NEC tournament titles, on January 18 the Blue Devils won’t play another home game until February 6 against Bryant.

With this being the case those four NEC home games were already important, and to not have their leading scorer available is a major blow to the Blue Devils’ hopes of improving on their seventh-place finish last season.

Stanford loses key veteran guard to stress fracture

Marcus Allen
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Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.

“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”

The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.

What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.

The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.