When it comes to the national title chances of No. 4 Wichita State, many detractors rush to point out the fact that they play in a Missouri Valley Conference that isn’t as strong as it’s been in years past. While there may be some truth to that, with No. 18 Creighton’s move to the Big East taking away two (and possibly three) games against a team more than capable of beating the Shockers, the fact of the matter is that all Gregg Marshall’s team can do is take care of business against the teams actually on their schedule.
Wichita State has done that all season long, with their most recent triumph being an 84-68 victory at Evansville on Sunday evening. Unlike the first meeting, in which the Purple Aces made their first eight shots from the field and led by as many as 13 points in the first half, Marty Simmons’ team was unable to establish some early separation against Wichita State.
The reasons for that? Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet. Gregg Marshall’s talented backcourt duo combined to score the Shockers’ first 15 points, shooting 6-for-7 from the field, with Baker scoring 15 of his game-high 26 points in the first half. Van Vleet finished the game with 18 points, eight assists and five steals, and as a team Wichita State shot 49.1% from the field. But it was their defense that made the difference, despite the fact that they Purple Aces shot 51.1% from the field.
When Evansville kept possession of the basketball they executed well, but that task is a difficult one against a Wichita State team that rates among the nation’s best on the defensive end. Evansville committed 18 turnovers, which Wichita State converted into 23 points. Nearly 26% of Evansville’s possessions culminated with a turnover, and a percentage that high makes it incredibly difficult to beat any team much less one as good as Wichita State.
With the win the Shockers remain one of the nation’s two remaining undefeated teams, with No. 1 Syracuse being the other. And as this season approaches March, has a clear favorite to win the national title emerged? In the aftermath of their second-half performance on Saturday, No. 3 Florida may be the team closest to earning that distinction. But with Syracuse’s many close calls and the injury issues that both No. 2 Arizona and No. 9 Michigan State have encountered, there seem to be more questions than answers at the top.
So why can’t Wichita State follow up its Final Four run of a season ago with another, or go even further this season? Say what you want about their schedule and their conference, but the Shockers are more than capable of doing just that.
Cal and San Diego State played last season in the Las Vegas Invitational and decided to play more often.
According to multiple reports, the two teams will play each other the next three seasons, starting with a neutral-court matchup in Sacramento on Nov. 21. The game in Sacramento will be unique in a couple of ways, as it will be the first college basketball game in the Sacramento Kings’ brand-new home arena. It will also be Cal’s first game in Sacramento since 1947.
After the Sacramento game during the 2016-17 season, San Diego State will host the Golden Bears the next season and Cal will host the Aztecs the following year to close out the three-game deal.
With both Cal and San Diego State returning plenty of talent from last season, this season’s contest should be one of the more intriguing non-conference games between schools out west and it should be fun for the players as they get to take the floor in a new NBA arena.
Creighton will be without a key big man for the start of practice as senior Zach Hanson will be out after having knee surgery.
According to a report from Marjie Ducey of the Omaha World-Herald, the 6-foot-9 Hanson will likely be out for eight to 12 weeks. Creighton head coach Greg McDermott told Ducey that Hanson will hopefully be available when Creighton opens its regular season in November.
As a junior, Hanson was a key rotation big man for the Bluejays as he put up 6.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game, making one start on the season. As McDermott noted in Ducey’s story, he’s not concerned about Hanson missing practice time from a learning curve standpoint but he is a bit worried about his conditioning. Before the knee surgery, Hanson was also nursing some ankle injuries that he was dealing with during the season, so he hasn’t had a great chance to get in proper condition.
This loss will definitely hurt Creighton as they have a ton of backcourt pieces for next season, but not as many in the front court. Hanson’s an experienced player who will help once he returns but it will something worth monitoring to see what kind of condition he’s in during the early season.
Now that summer basketball is nearly finished, a lot of good mixtapes are beginning to pop up from this spring and summer’s action.
Ball is Life just dropped some highlights from all of the Under Armour Association events from this spring and summer in one mixtape and it’s loaded with high-level players making tremendous plays.
Some of the top Class of 2017 prospects included in the video include Trevon Duval, Kris Wilkes, Ira Lee, M.J. Walker and North Carolina commit Jalek Felton.
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) A Michigan judge will review surveillance footage from the night former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling was arrested outside a strip club on weapons and drug charges.
Appling’s defense attorney presented the footage at Friday’s preliminary examination. It includes security videos from the Pantheon Club parking lot and video from police dashboard cameras.
The hearing was adjourned until Aug. 5 to allow Judge William Hultgren time to review the footage.
The 24-year-old Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and had two 10-day contracts with the Orlando Magic this season.
He was arrested in May after two guns and suspected marijuana were found in a vehicle he was in.
Appling also faces a trial in Detroit where he was charged in June with carrying a concealed weapon.
Arkansas is coming off of a disappointing 16-16 season in which they missed the postseason.
The Razorbacks lost two key guards in Anthlon Bell and Jabril Durham — who both exhausted their eligibility — but they’re hoping a couple of additions will bolster the depth of their backcourt and make their trademark press stronger.
In a story from Tom Murphy of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Razorbacks are excited about the possibilities of their new backcourt.
Although Arkansas lost two talented seniors and a transfer in Jimmy Whitt, they return Dusty Hannahs, Manny Watkins and Anton Beard while also getting two of the best junior college guards in the country. Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon come in highly touted for next season and both junior college guards garnered a lot of praise from their play last season.
With Arkansas also bringing in some freshman guards like C.J. Jones and RJ Glasper, head coach Mike Anderson is hoping to have enough bodies to play fast and use his press. The team appears to be optimistic as well.
“I think we’ll have a lot more toughness at the guard position, and depth,” Watkins said to Murphy. “We’ve got a lot of guys. When we’re pressing and stuff, we’ve got bodies we can bring in.”
Arkansas also returns an SEC Player of the Year candidate in big man Moses Kingsley and they could be an intriguing team to track this season if Barford and Macon are as good as advertised. They’ll certainly have more bodies to throw at opposing guards and that should help Arkansas play faster than they did last season.