Friday’s Pregame Shootaround: America East clash highlights light slate

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Vermont at Stony Brook, 9:00 p.m. EST (ESPNU)

Just two teams remain undefeated in America East play and it’s the two teams many expected to be the leading contenders to win the conference title back in the preseason. And with tonight’s schedule boasting just six games this is a good opportunity to get familiar two two teams capable of hearing their name called on Selection Sunday. The Catamounts start five seniors and their most versatile player, Brian Voelkel, is averaging just 6.7 points per game. But when a 6-foot-6 forward also contributes 8.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game the scoring isn’t an issue.

Stony Brook will counter with a lineup that’s also experienced, but their best player is a sophomore in forward Jameel Warney (15.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg) who will give America East headaches for the next two years. The home team won both meetings last season, so that could work in the Seawolves’ favor tonight. 

WHO’S GETTING UPSET: Manhattan (-10.5) vs. Rider, 7:00 p.m. 

The use of lines is for entertainment purposes only, and Quinnipiac would be a good pick here as well given the fact that they’re underdogs on the road against an Iona team they outclassed earlier this month. But that would be the easy pick, so the Broncs are the selection despite the fact that Manhattan’s leading scorer George Beamon is expected to make his return to the lineup.

However in order for this to happen Kevin Baggett’s team needs to do two things: defend better (opponents are shooting nearly 48% from the field) and not turn the ball over. Manhattan’s forcing an average of nearly 17 turnovers per game, and Steve Masiello’s guards can get after you. But if Anthony Myles and the other Rider guards can keep up with Beamon and Mike Alvarado, and Daniel Stewart stays out of foul trouble inside, Rider has a shot. 


  • Speaking of that MAAC battle between Quinnipiac and Iona, the Gaels get a shot at revenge after they were whipped in Hamden by 12 earlier this month. Tom Moore’s Bobcats, led by senior Ike Azotam, grabbed 20 offensive rebounds in that game. 
  • Northern Kentucky looks to move to 5-4 in Atlantic Sun play with a win over Lipscomb, with the Bisons having alternated wins and losses in their last four results (they lost to Mercer in their most recent outing). NKU junior guard Jordan Jackson is ranked either first or second on the team in points (first), rebounds (second) and assists (second).
  • Niagara’s lost six of their last seven games entering tonight’s home tilt with Marist, withe Red Foxes coming off of a win over Saint Peter’s earlier this week. 
  • In the second game of a three-game road swing Detroit looks to end a four-game losing streak with a win at Milwaukee. Juwan Howard Jr’s averaging 17.8 points per game for the Titans, with the Panthers countering with a balanced rotation led by forward Matt Tiby (14.2 ppg)

Colorado’s Tory Miller reprimanded by Pac-12 after biting opponent

Dusan Ristic, Tory Miller
AP Photo
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Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.

During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.

In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.

“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”

Miller also released his apology in the same release.

“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.

For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?


Michigan State’s Tum Tum Nairn battling foot injury

Lourawls Nairn Jr.
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Michigan State has climbed on the back of star senior wing Denzel Valentine early in the season but they’ll undoubtedly need more help as the season goes on if they want to sustain their current top-5 ranking. One of the keys to the Spartans could be the on-going health of sophomore point guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, who is battling a foot injury.

According to a report from Kyle Austin of MLive.com, Nairn has been putting on a protective boot the last few months to help battle plantar fasciitis as the guard has been playing in practices and hasn’t had his minutes reduced in games.

The injury looked like it was hurting Nairn’s early-season play, but he’s been very good in two games at the Wooden Legacy in California this week, so it could be that he’s getting more used to playing through the pain of the injury.

If Nairn is healthy and capable of contributing, he’s a huge boost to Michigan State because he’s one of the fastest players in college basketball and an additional ball handler on the floor. Through six games so far this season, Nairn is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 assists per game as he’s been one of the team’s best distributors.

Plantar fasciitis can be a tough injury to fight through, so we’ll have to see if this affects Nairn as the season goes along.