College Hoops Week in Review: Frank Kaminsky, Michigan earn weekly honors

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

I made a joke on twitter during Wisconsin’s win over Iowa on Saturday, saying, essentially, that if you’re a 6-foot-10 stiff, you should go to play for Bo Ryan because he’ll make you awesome in three years. I thought it was funny, because Wisconsin always manages to churn out big men that hit threes and post double-doubles like it’s nothing. Brian Butch to Jon Leuer to Jared Berggren to Kaminsky.

But, as always, tone got lost on twitter and some folks did not realize that what I was saying was tongue-in-cheek, because Kaminsky, like Berggren and Leuer and Butch before him, is not a stiff. At all. He’s a burly seven-footer that has an array of moves on the block, can beat big men off the dribble and buries threes. He may not be jumping out of the gym and he doesn’t have the kind of wingspan that makes NBA scouts drool, but he’s as skilled offensively as any big man in the country.

The last two games have been the perfect example, as he averaged 23.0 points and 9.0 boards  while shooting 19-for-29 from three in wins at Michigan and Iowa.

Kaminsky’s development is the reason the Badgers are one of the Big Ten’s best against this season.

They were good, too:

  • Terran Petteway, Nebraska: After scoring 23 points in Nebraska’s win at Michigan State last Sunday, Petteway averaged 27.5 points in a pair of wins for the Cornhuskers this week. Nebraska is playing like an NCAA tournament team.
  • Doug McDermott, Creighton: This week is the perfect example of why McDermott is a shoe-in for National Player of the Year. He scored 55 points in wins at Marquette and at home against Seton Hall, and the national reaction was, basically, ‘meh’.
  • Leslie McDonald, North Carolina: McDonald averaged 20.0 points and shot 14-for-21 from the floor and 6-for-10 from three in wins over Wake Forest and Duke this week.
  • Julius Randle, Kentucky: Randle had 25 points and 13 boards in Tuesday’s win at Ole Miss, following it up with 15 boards and a game-winning putback to beat LSU in overtime.
  • Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico: Bairstow had 18 points, six boards and five blocks in a win at UNLV, following that up with 26 points and nine boards in UNM’s blow-out win over San Diego State on Saturday.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines finished off a sweep of intra-state rival Michigan State on Sunday, notching a come-from-behind win over the Spartans thanks to their talented perimeter duo. Caris LeVert scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half, while Nik Stauskas chipped in with 21 of his 25 points, busting out of a massive slump where he had scored just 51 points in his previous five games.

LeVert’s development is huge for the Wolverines. They need a secondary scorer, and he’s proven that he’s talented enough to carry the Michigan offense for stretches. But without Stauskas playing like ‘Nik Stauskas, All-American’, the Wolverines are simply quite beatable. It’s more than his ability to score — which, I should emphasize, is prolific; 21 points in a half is not that surprising out of the 6-foot-6 Canadian.

Stauskas is a tremendous playmaker. He’s not Trey Burke, and he’s not great going left, but when Michigan runs him off of ball-screens and curls on the left-hand side of the court so he can drive right, he’s able to find the open man. LeVert gets his buckets going one-on-one, and that’s important. But Stauskas, when he’s playing well, just opens up Beilein’s offense. Everyone becomes better, and that’s why Michigan is in the driver’s seat when it comes to the Big Ten regular season title.

They were good, too:

  • SMU: The Mustangs picked up a massive win on Sunday afternoon, notching their first notable road win of the season at UConn.
  • Louisville: The Cardinals, like SMU, needed to make a statement on the road. They did it on Saturday, when Russ Smith hit a game-winning jumper at Cincinnati. That followed up a win over South Florida.
  • Stanford: The Cardinal all-but locked up a bid to the NCAA tournament when they knocked off UCLA at home on Saturday afternoon. That followed a win over USC.
  • UMass: The Minutemen had struggled for a couple months, but after beating GW on the road last Sunday, UMass knocked off VCU on Friday night in Amherst. They’re now in a three-way tie for second-place in the conference.
  • BYU: The Cougars put themselves in great position to earn an at-large berth by beating Gonzaga on Thursday.

Preaching patience, new Pitt AD says hoops program “a complete rebuild”

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Things did not go particularly well for Kevin Stallings in his first year at Pitt. The program, which essentially pushed Jamie Dixon out the door for being consistently good but not often enough great, struggled, going 16-17 overall and 4-14 in the ACC, just two games out of the cellar.

On top of that, six players prematurely left the program this spring.

Not great, especially when you’ve got a new boss that didn’t hire you, as is the case for Stallings with new Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke, who came aboard in March. In her first meeting with Stallings, Lyke asked a rather blunt question.

“Do you want to be here?” according to the Beaver County Times.

Stallings answered that he did, and his new athletic director would appear to be willing to give her predecessor’s hire time to reclaim and rebuild the program.

“It’s a steep climb, if you will,” Lyke said. “It’s not something that’s going to come easy and it takes an incredible amount of work.”

Stallings’ personal reputation took a significant amount of damage this spring when he attempted to block Cameron Johnson from an intra-ACC transfer to North Carolina. NBC Sports’ Scott Phillips called him a “town-deaf clown” in his attempt to keep Johnson from being a Tar Heel, a position he later relinquished, allowing Johnson to head to Chapel Hill.

Losing Johnson certainly won’t help Stallings and the Panthers recover from the difficult first season. Pitt didn’t hit any grand-slams in recruiting but is adding four-star guard Marcus Carr in its 2017 class.

The immediate outlook doesn’t look particularly bright, but Pitt appears to be positioning itself to exhibit some patience.

“If you look at the team, it is a complete rebuild,” Lyke said. “So I do think that (Stallings) is going to need a little time to develop it.

“But, we’ve got to be headed in the right direction. There’s some things that have got to get better and noticeable improvements. I’ve already seen those things start to happen.”

 

Miller Time: Indiana coach cashes in with $24 million deal

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — New Indiana coach Archie Miller will make $24 million under his seven-year deal — and potentially even more in bonuses.

Miller accepted the job in March, but the athletic department didn’t announce details of the contract until Tuesday.

He will receive a base salary of $550,000 per year and $1 million in deferred income each season. Miller also will receive an additional $1.85 million in outside marketing and promotional income — and will get a $50,000 per year raise each year through March 2024.

Miller can earn a $250,000 bonus for winning a national championship. He can earn an additional $125,000 for a Big Ten regular-season title, reaching the Final Four and producing multiyear Academic Progress Rate scores over 950.

Utah, BYU rivalry back on after one-year hiatus

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The BYU-Utah annual rivalry series will be back on this season after taking a one-year hiatus last year.

For just the second time since 1909, the Utes and the Cougars did not play in 2016-17 after Utah head coach Larry Kyrstkowiak asked for a one-year cooling off period stemming from an intense and emotional game against BYU in 2015-16. In that game, then-freshman Nick Emery was ejected as a result of this punch that he threw:

The last time those two teams did not play was due to World War II.

The game will be played at BYU on Dec. 16th.

Utah will also play Utah State this season, the first time that they have played the Aggies since 2011.

 

California bans state-funded travel to eight states; does it affect college hoops?

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A new California law could end up causing a headache for the sports teams for public universities in the state.

Because of recently-added laws that are perceived as discriminatory against the LGBT community, California has now banned travel to eight states: Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota join a list that already includes Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The law states that contracts that were signed before Jan. 1st, 2017, are exempted and can be fulfilled, but there’s not guarantee that will be the case in the future.

“Moving forward, the athletic department will not schedule future games in states that fail to meet the standards established by the new law,” a UCLA spokesman told the Sacramento Bee. That said, the university does not use state funding for travel sports teams as it currently stands, and the goal of the law to avoid “spending taxpayer dollars in states that discriminate,” according to California’s Attorney General.

On the college basketball side of things, the biggest question mark here is whether or not this law will prevent teams from playing in the NCAA tournament if they are sent to a site in one of those eight states. Next season alone, there are first weekend sites in Kansas, Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee, not to mention the Final Four taking place in San Antonio. The location for many of those events were determined prior to January 1st.

“We are generally not going to deny student-athletes the opportunity to compete in the postseason,” a UCLA spokesman told NBC Sports.

The next question then becomes whether or not regular season travel will be allowed. Earlier this year, Cal dropped out of talks with Kansas about a potential home-and-home series due to this law, and if regular season travel is not allowed, it would mean that Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville and Wichita State, along with Kansas, are not allowed to be visited by California public schools that need state funding to travel. A request for a clarification on the legality of college sports teams traveling to those states has been filed with the Attorney General by Fresno State, whose football team is headed to Alabama for a game this year.

Travel for recruiting is also a question that needs to be answered, but at the highest level of the sport, that is typically funded by boosters.

N.C. State adds grad transfer Sam Hunt

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N.C. State added its fourth transfer this offseason. Like ex-Baylor guard Al Freeman, the latest one is eligible to play next season.

Sam Hunt, a double-digit scorer the past two seasons at North Carolina A&T, officially enrolled at North Carolina State on Monday morning.

“Sam is a great young man and will bring much needed depth to our backcourt,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement. “I want guys who are excited about being a part of our program and Sam really wants to be here.

“Sam is a combo guard that can space the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. He is a good fit for the system and will bring a wealth of experience to our roster.”

Hunt, the 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 12.7 points per game last season, a dip from the 15.4 points per game he posted for the Aggies as a redshirt sophomore.

Hunt joins a roster that lost its three leading scorers from a season ago, one that ended 15-17 (4-14 ACC). Dennis Smith Jr. is a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Maverick Rowan also pursued a professional career and Terry Henderson was denied an additional year from the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack bring back forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven as well as Torin Dorn.

Keatts, who took over the program after leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, has already built for the future. UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce, 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Seahawks, has followed him to Raleigh. Utah transfer Devon Daniels committed to the Wolf Pack the same day as Bryce. Both will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Bryce will have two years of eligibility while Daniels will have three.