The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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Mike Poole has become a leader for Iona hoops (LoHud Insider)
One-year transfers have an interesting challenge in front of them in many cases, with their short-term stay in a program requiring greater effort in order to incorporate themselves into the program. One such transfer is Iona’s Mike Poole, who arrived at the school after spending three seasons at Rutgers. And he’s done well at his new home, even earning the role of captain for a team that clinched a share of the MAAC regular season title on Sunday.

Jim Boeheim’s act isn’t funny; just imagine if a player acted that way (CBS Sports)
In the aftermath of Jim Boeheim’s ejection with 10.4 seconds remaining in Syracuse’s loss at Duke on Saturday night, many had fun with the situation. Whether it was laughing at the post game press conference or the many memes developed as a result of Boeheim removing his blazer in anger, the moment certainly didn’t lack for entertainment. But not everyone found the situation funny.

CAA setting up for wide-open tournament (City of Basketball Love)
Drexel knocked off Delaware in Newark on Sunday afternoon, resulting in the Blue Hens’ lead atop the CAA shrinking to just one game in the standings. Monte Ross has been without two starters in Jarvis Threatt and Marvin King-Davis for close to a month due to suspension, but his team still managed to post a 12-2 record. And the tight nature of the CAA standings could be a harbinger of what’s to come in the conference tournament.

The “Big Dog” still feeling the Purdue love (Fort Wayne News-Sentinel)
Thursday night may not have gone well for Purdue on the court as they lost to No. 13 Michigan State, but the fans did get to welcome back a hero from the past. Glenn Robinson, the “Big Dog” was back in town, and to commemorate the occasion the school gave away bobble head dolls of one of the school’s greatest players.

Despite foot injuries, Sparrow helps Spiders step forward (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
When Richmond’s Cedrick Lindsay was lost for the rest of the season after tearing the meniscus in both knees, the Spiders’ prospects for the remainder of the season did not look good. But Chris Mooney’s team has remained among the top teams in the Atlantic 10, and one reason why is the play of Wayne Sparrow.

Coaches talk a good game to boost bid (Boston Herald)
It’s something that happens every year around this time and only intensifies as we get closer to Selection Sunday: coaches becoming salesmen in hopes of convincing the committee that their team should be in the NCAA tournament field. Whether it’s to sell their team or their conference, more than a few coaches will make their cases in the next three weeks.

Wisconsin badgering way into conversation for No. 1 seed (The Sporting News)
Saturday afternoon saw No. 16 Wisconsin add yet another quality win to its resume, with Bo Ryan’s Badgers winning at Iowa. As a result of their many quality wins the Badgers may have a case for a one-seed in the NCAA tournament should they run the table, something few expected when they were struggling in late-January.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.