Late Night Snacks: Bubble teams take center stage

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Missouri 86, Arkansas 85 

Jabari Brown’s shot with 10.2 seconds remaining was the difference as the Tigers denied the Razorbacks a much-needed SEC road victory. Arkansas still has just one conference road win to its credit this season, and that came at Vanderbilt last week.

As for the Tigers, Jordan Clarkson scored 27 points and Brown added 25 (14-for-15 FT) as they ended their three-game losing streak. How many teams will the SEC place in the NCAA tournament field? Outside of Florida and Kentucky that’s anyone’s guess, and games such as this one will determine the answer.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) St. John’s 68, Seton Hall 67

A Chris Obekpa free throw with 2.1 seconds remaining moved the surging Red Storm to 7-1 in their last eight games. Losing to the Pirates would have been a tough enough blow, but the fact that Seton Hall played without suspended seniors Brian Oliver and Eugene Teague made this one even more important for St. John’s. St. John’s turned the ball over 19 times but did shoot 53.2% from the field, and they made just one less three-pointer than Seton Hall (three to the Pirates’ four) despite the fact that the Pirates attempted ten more (20 to ten).

2) No. 21 Wisconsin 78, Minnesota 70 

Ben Brust scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the Badgers to their second consecutive victory, with Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes added 17 and 15 points respectively. The difference in this one was the free throw line, with Wisconsin outscoring Minnesota 30-15 from the charity stripe.

3) No. 18 Creighton 68, Butler 63

Doug McDermott’s three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining gave the Bluejays the lead for good at Hinkle Fieldhouse, moving Creighton back into a tie for first place with No. 6 Villanova. McDermott finished the game with 26 points and five rebounds, and Will Artino added 11 key points off the bench. Kellen Dunham led the Bulldogs with 22 points.

STARRED

1) Isiah Umipig (Seattle)

Umipig racked up 32 points (12-for-20 FG), seven rebounds and two assists in the Redhawks’ 71-57 win at WAC leader Utah Valley.

2) Sherman Blanford (Eastern Illinois) 

Blanford tallied 32 points (13-for-20 FG) and 18 rebounds in the Panthers’ 88-83 loss at Austin Peay.

3) Andrew Rowsey (UNC Asheville)

In the Bulldogs’ 102-92 loss at Radford, Rowsey accounted for 41 points and four assists, shooting 14-for-28 from the field.

STRUGGLED

1) Ryan Weber (Youngstown State) 

Weber shot 1-for-10 from the field, scoring two points and committing five turnovers in the Penguins’ 71-40 blowout loss to Green Bay.

2) Chris Fouch (Drexel) 

Fouch made just two of his ten shots from the field, scoring six points in Drexel’s 47-46 loss at College of Charleston.

3) Brett Comer (FGCU) 

Comer shot 2-for-10 from the field and finished with as many turnovers (four) as assists (four) in FGCU’s 89-81 loss at East Tennessee State.

NOTABLES

  • No. 9 Michigan State beat Northwestern 85-70, remaining tied with rival Michigan for first place in the Big Ten as a result. Adreian Payne finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
  • Kyle Anderson racked up 22 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds to lead UCLA to a 92-74 win over Colorado, with the margin not indicative of the game’s competitiveness.
  • Karvel Anderson scored 28 points to lead Robert Morris to a 66-60 win over Saint Francis (PA), moving the Colonials to 10-1 in NEC play.
  • Green Bay rebounded from its second Horizon League loss with a 71-40 win over Youngstown State. Alec Brown scored 24 points on 11-for-16 shooting.
  • Drew Kelly scored 19 points to lead Morehead State to a 69-67 win over Jacksonville State, keeping the Eagles a game behind Belmont in the loss column atop the OVC East.
  • Chad Frazier scored 20 points in UAB’s 84-60 win over Southern Miss, handing the Golden Eagles their second loss in Conference USA play.
  • Gonzaga bounced back from its loss at Memphis on Saturday night with an 83-68 win over Pepperdine.
  • UCSB moved to 7-2 in Big West play with 65-64 win at Long Beach State. Michael Bryson’s layup with one second remaining gave the Gauchos, who are tied for first with UC Irvine, the win.
  • Utah picked up its first road victory of the season, beating USC 79-71 due in large part to the tandem of Delon Wright (20 points, nine rebounds and five assists) and Jordan Loveridge (19 points, eight rebounds and four assists).
  • Marcus Georges-Hunt’s four-point play with seven tenths of a second remaining gave Georgia Tech a 74-71 win over Boston College.
  • Saint Mary’s is now in sole possession of second place in the WCC after beating San Diego 69-57, with BYU falling 89-82 at Pacific. The Gaels and Cougars meet on Saturday.

3-on-3 at the Final Four for $100,000? It’s happening

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The Final Four just got more exciting.

On Tuesday, Intersport announced a 3-on-3 tournament that they will be hosting at the Final Four with a $100,000 payout for the winners. The participants must be seniors that have exhausted their collegiate eligibility, the teams will be created based on conference and the rules will be standard, international 3-on-3 rules: one-point for a bucket inside the arc, two points for a bucket outside the arc, 12-second shot clocks and games played to 21 points, or whoever has the highest score after 10 minutes. Each all-star team will feature four players, including one sub.

And, well, this is awesome.

I cannot express enough how much I love this idea.

One potential pothole here is that teams that are playing in the Final Four will, quite clearly, not have players eligible to participate.

It also should be noted that since “three-pointers” are now worth two points and “two-pointers” are now worth one, the value of long-range shooting is increased even more.

With all that in mind, why don’t we make a quick power ranking of the teams that can be created from the nine biggest conferences in college hoops:

  1. ACC: Grayson Allen (Duke), Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame), Joel Berry II (North Carolina), Ben Lammers (Georgia Tech)
  2. Big East: Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington (Seton Hall), Trevon Bluiett (Xavier), Marcus Foster (Creighton)
  3. Big 12: Devonte’ Graham (Kansas), Jevon Carter (West Virginia), Jeffery Carroll (Oklahoma State), Zach Smith (Texas Tech)
  4. AAC: Rob Gray (Houston), B.J. Taylor (UCF), Gary Clark (Cincinnati), Obi Enechionya (Temple)
  5. Pac-12: Jordan McLaughlin and Elijah Stewart (USC), George King (Colorado), Thomas Welsh (UCLA)
  6. Big Ten: Nate Mason (Minnesota), Scottie Lindsay (Northwestern), Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas (Purdue)
  7. Atlantic 10: E.C. Matthews and Jared Terrell (Rhode Island), Peyton Aldridge (Davidson), Jaylen Adams (St. Bonaventure)
  8. SEC: Yante Maten (Georgia), Deandre Burnett (Ole Miss), Daryl Macon and Jaylen Barford (Arkansas)
  9. WCC: Jock Landale and Emmett Naar (Saint Mary’s), Jonathan Williams III (Gonzaga), Silas Melson (Gonzaga)

I had way too much fun putting this together.

What did I miss?

Harsh Reality: Indiana did not do Grant Gelon wrong, getting cut is part of sports

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What happened to Grant Gelon sucks, and I’m not sure anyone in their right mind would try to argue otherwise.

A 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Crown Point, Indiana, Gelon accepted a scholarship offer from then-Indiana head coach Tom Crean as a member of the Class of 2016. His commitment was something of a surprise at the time; Gelon was a two-star prospect, according to Rivals, and ranked 402nd in the class, according to 247 Sports. At the time, Gelon reportedly had seven scholarship offers: Central Michigan, UIC, Toledo, Iona, Youngstown State, IUPUI and Western Carolina.

It was a reach for Crean, but it was also a dream come true for an Indiana kid getting a chance to don the cream and crimson.

Which is what made what happened this spring particularly painful.

Crean was fired on March 16th. Indiana hired Archie Miller to replace him on March 27th. Five weeks later, after a handful of workouts with the new coaching staff, Miller called Gelon into his office — the date, according to the Northwest Indiana Times, was May 3rd — and told him that he was being cut. There was not going to be minutes available, the staff said, for a sophomore that played in just 12 games last season, and that finding a place to transfer would be Gelon’s best option.

“I told them I wanted to stay,” Gelon told the Indy Star. “I told them, I’m making my mind up, I’m gonna push hard, show them what I can do, I’m here for a reason. When I said that, it was like, ‘Whoa, slow down.’ They were kind of making that sound like it wasn’t an option.”

That’s because it wasn’t.

Miller was cutting Gelon.

He was not cutting his scholarship, mind you. The Indiana student-athlete bill of rights protects players from losing their tuition due to poor performance on the court or the field. Gelon would still be getting his education paid for if he opted to remain at Indiana, he just wouldn’t be playing for the Hoosiers. Gelon’s departure opened up a scholarship for the Hoosiers that eventually went to Race Thompson, a four-star power forward that reclassified into the Class of 2017 in order to enroll at Indiana this year.

“Coach Miller believes honesty in evaluating talent, while often difficult, is the appropriate measure to take at all times and in the best interest of each player,” a statement released by the Indiana athletic department read. “Grant was made aware that our staff believed his abilities were not of the caliber that would allow him to receive playing time of any kind in the future for the IU program.”

I feel for Gelon here. I really do. Getting cut sucks, and everyone reading this now has probably gone through it at some point in their life. It happens all the time, in every sport, at every age group. Once you get to a level in athletics where you’re playing in more than your hometown rec league, it gets competitive. If you’re not good enough, you don’t make the team. That is how this works. Gelon found that out the hard way.

And frankly, what Miller did is not uncommon. It’s called running a player off, and it happens all the time at every program. Gelon had a bad enough season as a freshman that there is no guarantee that he would have kept his spot on the team had Crean kept his job. Simply put, he is not a Big Ten basketball player. I’d wager that two out of every five transfers at the Division I level are the result of a player transferring out of a school — either because he was forced or because the writing was on the wall — to a lower level, one more in line with his skill-set.

That’s what happened with Gelon. He’s now at State Fair Community College in Missouri, where he’ll spend a year before looking to climb his way back into the Division I ranks, most likely at the low-major level.

And no matter how many interviews that he or his family gives, you won’t find me saying that Indiana handled this the wrong way.

Was Miller callous?

That wouldn’t surprise me. He’s not the type of guy to mince words, and there really is not a good way to sugar-coat, ‘You are not good enough for us.’

But Gelon was not having his scholarship taken away. Indiana was living up to their promise of paying for his education. They did not do him wrong. The staff gave him more than a month to prove himself as a player and, eventually, made the decision he would not be in their plans moving forward.

So he was cut. That opening allowed a four-star power forward to enroll this year.

That’s the harsh reality of life in the Big Ten.

And there’s nothing wrong with the coach of a basketball team doing what Miller and Indiana did.

VIDEO: UConn’s Kwintin Williams would win the NBA dunk contest

Screengrab via Instagram
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Think that’s too strong?

Look at this dunk:

Light

A post shared by Kwintin Williams (@jumpmanebig) on

He also did this over the summer:

Williams is a 6-foot-7, 215 pound JuCo transfer that should provide UConn with some minutes in the frontcourt this season.

LSU officially announces addition of Kavell Bigby-Williams

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LSU has announced the addition of Oregon transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams, a 6-foot-11 junior that was the National Junior College Player of the Year as a sophomore.

Bigby-Williams, who is a native of London, averaged 3.0 points and 2.8 boards last season as the Ducks reached the Final Four, but he played the majority of the season while under investigation for an alleged sexual assault that occurred while he was at Gillette College in Wyoming.

The local County Attorney declined to charge Bigby-Williams with a crime, and Gillette College police consider the case closed.

“The university conducted a responsible and comprehensive review before approving the transfer,” a release posted on LSU’s Athletics site read, “including close coordination with Title IX officials, multiple discussions with Gillette and Oregon officials and a thorough examination of available public records.”

LSU head coach Will Wade was quoted in that release as well: “This is an issue we all take seriously and we made absolutely sure we did our due diligence before considering moving forward. Kavell understands that and has made clear to me that he’s going to repay our confidence by representing LSU with his very best on and off the court.”

Report: Four-star Mamaou Doucoure has reclassified, enrolled at Rutgers

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Rutgers has made a potentially significant addition to their 2017 recruiting class, as four-star big man Mamadou Doucoure appears to have reclassified.

According to the Asbury Park Press, Doucoure has already enrolled in classes at Rutgers, citing a search of the university’s online database. The 6-foot-9 Doucoure was initially a member of the Class of 2017 before reclassifying to 2018, although there have been rumors that he has been trying to enroll this year.

It’s not yet clear if Doucoure will be eligible to play this season — he has not even been added to Rutgers’ roster online — but if he’s eligible, he should be able to provide rotation minutes for the Scarlet Knights.

Even if he’s not cleared to play this season, his addition matters. He’ll be able to workout with and develop in a Big Ten locker room before getting cleared to play alongside a massive 2018 recruiting class that already includes four-stars Mac McClung and Montez Mathis along with three-star prospect Ron Harper Jr.