The Secondary Break: Tuesday’s Links

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Questions remain as UMass hits home stretch (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
During much of the non-conference portion of the season, Derek Kellogg’s UMass Minutemen were a pleasant surprise that put together one of the better resumes in college basketball. Unfortunately for UMass the rigorous Atlantic 10 schedule has resulted in three losses, and as they approach the home stretch there are some significant questions to be addressed.

Talent in college basketball in need of new definition (Sports Illustrated)
What does it take to be labeled as “talented” in college basketball? Is it solely about physical gifts, or are there other aspects that need to be taken into consideration? Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis tackles this question and makes some good points about what all should be taken into consideration when discussing “talent.”

Documentary on Duke/North Carolina rivalry premieres Sunday (Beverly Hills Courier)
For all the great games that the Duke and North Carolina basketball programs have staged over the years, there seems to be a shortage of documentaries on one of college basketball’s greatest rivalries. On Sunday evening a new documentary on the rivalry will make its west coast premiere in Los Angeles.

Petteway leading Cornhuskers’ surge in Big Ten play (Associated Press)
Who’s the leading scorer in Big Ten play? Michigan State’s Gary Harris? Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell? The answer is actually Nebraska sophomore Terran Petteway, who’s currently averaging 19.5 points per game in Big Ten play. And he’s a big reason why Tim Miles’ Cornhuskers have won three of their last four games.

Caught in a shooting slump, Oregon’s Joseph Young found his answer in a familiar place: the gym (The Oregonian)
Shooting slumps are something that every basketball player has to deal with at some point in their career. What separates the standouts from the ones who are merely good is what they do about it. Oregon’s Joseph Young was faced with a shooting slump entering last week’s games against the L.A. schools, and his hard work helped the Houston transfer snap out of that funk.

John Calipari expects better defense from Kentucky basketball team (Louisville Courier-Journal)
One issue that many freshmen have trouble with when making the move from high school to college is understanding the commitment it takes to play well on the defensive end. That’s something that Kentucky’s had to address, and John Calipari isn’t too pleased with the way in which they’ve defended of late.

Maryland set for last game as ACC member in Chapel Hill (Raleigh News & Observer)
On Wednesday night the Maryland Terrapins will visit North Carolina, with the contest being the final one between the two as ACC members. The series has been in existence since 1924, and the two programs have staged some quality games over the years. But with Maryland moving to the Big Ten, this long-running chapter will be coming to an end.

High-scoring games becoming routine for Haws (Salt Lake Tribune)
After hitting a rough stretch during the latter stages of non-conference play, BYU finds itself tied for second place in the WCC at the halfway point. The biggest reason why: the prolific scoring ability of junior guard Tyler Haws. Haws’ ability to score has reached the point where some have even begun to take his recent stretch for granted.

Arizona Wildcats basketball: Surgery likely for Ashley (Arizona Daily Star)
With Brandon Ashley sidelined for the remainder of the season after breaking his right foot, No. 2 Arizona has begun the process of moving forward with the pieces they have. What does Ashley’s injury mean for their rotation? More minutes for the six players safely in the rotation, and an opportunity (depending in part on the opposition) for forward Matt Korcheck and guards Jordin Mayes and Elliott Pitts.

POSTERIZED: Monmouth bench mob goes insane after huge dunk

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Monmouth has arguably been the most entertaining team in college basketball through the season’s first three weeks.

Let’s start with the obvious: They’re a mid-major outfit with a 5-foot-8 point guard that headlines a talented back court, one good enough to have notched upsets at UCLA and, this week, over No. 17 Notre Dame and USC at the Advocare Invitational in Orlando.

It’s pretty incredible, to be honest. They’ve managed to amass one of college basketball’s best resume despite being a MAAC program with a grand total of four NCAA appearances in their luxurious history.

But what makes this team so much fun isn’t just that they can’t seem to stop beating high-major competition, it’s that, in the process, their bench mob has become one of college basketball’s best.

Want some proof? Watch what happens after this Deon Jones poster dunk:

And here’s the wild part: that wasn’t even close to the best thing the bench did this week.

This was:


But there’s so much more.

Like, for example, the three arrows:

The touchdown pass:

The bench poster:

The heart attack:

They … caught a fish?

And, finally, the ‘OH SHHHHHHHHHHHH’:

Wichita State’s 0-3 week makes chances for at-large bid small

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

We’ve reached the nightmare scenario for Wichita State.

Having entered the season as the overwhelming favorite in the Missouri Valley, a top 15 team and a legitimate threat to reach a Final Four, after two weeks, the Shockers are in serious danger of missing out on the NCAA tournament altogether.

That’s not hyperbole, either.

Wichita State fell to 2-4 on the year after getting mollywhopped by Iowa in the 7th-place game of the Advocare Invitational. They ended up in the 7th-place game because they lost to USC and Alabama in the opening two rounds. The Hawkeyes look like the might be able to eke out an at-large berth if things fall the right way for them, but USC and Alabama are projected to finish at or near the bottom of their respective conferences. Even Iowa would do well to finish in the top half of the Big Ten.

Individually, none of those three losses are particularly terrible, and that’s before you factor in that all-american point guard Fred VanVleet sat out the trip to Orlando with a bad hamstring. They were also without back up point guard Landry Shamet in the tournament and it’s unknown when they’ll actually get Anton Grady back to full stretch. That matters to the NCAA tournament selection committee. They’ll factor it in when they determine where the Shockers will be seeded, or if they will even get an invite.

But throw in the loss at Tulsa from the first week of the season, and the Shockers are now 2-4 on the season.

And unlike the rest of the preseason top 25 — unlike the rest of the nation’s high-major programs — Wichita State won’t have a chance to load up on quality wins during league play. The Valley is better than we probably realized (more on that in a second), but it’s not like there are going to be a myriad of top 50 wins for the taking.

Look at Georgetown, for example. They Hoyas went 1-3 in the first week of the season, a stretch that included a home loss to Radford. But they also play in a conference where they’ll get home-and-homes against the likes of Villanova, Butler and Xavier.

The Shockers need to do their damage during the non-conference. They need to get the bulk of their resume put together before Valley play starts. Assuming they do win the rest of their non-league games, we’re not exactly looking at a daunting profile, either. The Shockers still have to visit Saint Louis and Seton Hall and host UNLV, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico State. UNLV and Utah should look like quality wins on Selection Sunday, but the rest of them?

Wichita State is putting themselves in a position where they may end up needing to win the Missouri Valley tournament just to get into the Big Dance, and the problem is that the Valley looks like it is really going to be tough this season. Northern Iowa notched a win over North Carolina already this year. Illinois State gave Maryland a fight and entered the season as a favorite to upset the Shockers. Evansville has two of the league’s five best players in D.J. Balentine and Egidijus Mockevicius.

They’re not waltzing through that conference by any stretch of the imagination.

That’s not exactly what VanVleet and Ron Baker had in mind when they decided to return to Wichita for one final season.