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Rebounding numbers stand out in No. 18 Duke’s win over Miami

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After dropping a 72-59 decision at Clemson 11 days ago, No. 18 Duke was 1-2 in ACC play and looked like a team in search of some answers. Jabari Parker wasn’t playing at the same level he displayed during much of non-conference play, and as a team the Blue Devils still had to get better on the defensive end of the floor.

Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils have made some strides since that defeat, and while a 67-46 win against a Miami team with a serious lack of offensive firepower isn’t enough to cancel the remainder of the season and say “just give Duke the trophy” their work on the boards should be seen as a positive. Duke rebounded 44.1% of its missed shots, which is quite the achievement for a group that entered Wednesday’s contest ranked 14th in the ACC in offensive rebounding percentage.

Those extra opportunities resulted in 22 second-chance points, and that combined with their 26 points in the paint helped Duke account for their lack of a fast break. And Duke not being able to run was more about Miami’s game plan, with the Hurricanes doing as they did against No. 2 Syracuse earlier this month and doing whatever it took to keep the Blue Devils out of the open floor. It worked, as Duke scored just four fast break points, but the Hurricanes’ lack of capable scoring options (35.4% FG) meant that Jim Larrañaga’s team was unable to take advantage of this.

Of those 15 offensive rebounds six were grabbed by Jabari Parker, who finished with 17 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Much has been made of Parker’s scoring, or lack thereof, prior to the blowout win over N.C. State, but given his skill level that should be just one aspect of his game. In the five games prior to Wednesday Parker averaged 5.4 rebounds per game, and with Duke’s lack of size in the paint he’ll need to do more against the better teams on the Blue Devils’ remaining schedule.

Speaking of Duke’s size, the play of sophomore Amile Jefferson is something to keep an eye on moving forward. In ACC play Jefferson, who finished the game with eight points and seven rebounds, is averaging 7.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. While the scoring, due to the presence of players such as Parker, Rodney Hood (12 points, six rebounds) and Quinn Cook (eight points, four assists), is a bonus the rebounding isn’t. If Duke is to be a team that makes a run at Syracuse atop the ACC and enjoy success in March they’re going to need Jefferson. He’s done his job defensively and on the boards thus far, and if he can continue to do so the Blue Devils will be a better team as a result.

From a resume standpoint is there a great amount of value in Duke’s win over Miami? Likely not but that doesn’t mean progress can’t be made. And for a team that wasn’t dominant on the glass by any stretch of the imagination entering Wednesday, Duke’s showing in the rebounding department is a positive step.

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

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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)
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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.