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.

Battle 4 Atlantis title proves Syracuse will be relevant this season

rad Horrigan/The Courant via AP
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Michael Gbinije scored 20 points and Trevor Cooney added 15 points and five assists as Syracuse left the Bahamas with a title, beating No. 25 Texas A&M 74-67 in the finals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

I guess it’s time to start taking the Orange seriously.

There’s a lot to like about this group. Gbinije and Cooney are both fifth-year seniors that not only understand how to operate at the top of the 2-3 zone that Jim Boeheim runs, but they both have developed into versatile offensive weapons. Cooney was known as nothing more than a jump-shooter when he arrived up north, but he’s now averaging 3.5 assists on the season.

And Gbinije?

He has been one of the best players in the country through the first two weeks of the season. Through six games, he’s averaged 19.7 points, 4.2 assists, 3.0 boards and 2.8 steals while shooting 51.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Freshman Malachi Richardson, who had 16 points in the win over A&M, has scored double-figures in all six games this season while another freshman, Tyler Lydon, was against terrific on Friday, finishing with 13 points and eight boards. He’s now shooting 58.8 percent from beyond the arc this season.

And that’s where this team is going to do the majority of their damage this season.

Through six games, they’re shooting 41.1 percent from beyond the arc. In the three wins in the Bahamas, the Orange knocked were 34-for-73 from beyond the arc, a 46.5 percent clip. The question isn’t whether or not that rate can continue — four of the six players that saw action on Friday are dangerous three-point shooters while the other two, Tyler Roberson  and DaJuan Coleman, aren’t going to be shooting threes — but what happens on the nights where the threes aren’t going down.

There are going to be nights where they shoot 5-for-25 instead of 11-for-25. Will they have enough firepower then? Will their defense be good enough? Will guys like Roberson and Coleman be able to supply a scoring punch? Will Cooney, Gbinije and Richardson attack the paint instead of settling for jumpers?

Because at the very least, these three games in the Bahamas have proven that the Orange are going to be relevant this season, even in the loaded ACC. Whether that means they’re going to push for a top four finish or simply end the year as a tournament team remains to be seen, but this much is clear: Jim Boeheim has himself a squad Upstate.

No. 10 Gonzaga outlasts No. 18 UConn despite late offensive struggles

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No. 10 Gonzaga survived a furious rally from No. 18 UConn to win the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 73-70.

The Zags were up by as much as 21 points early in the second half, leading 48-27, but UConn slowly chipped away at the lead. Kyle Wiltjer led four players in double-figures with 17 points while Eric McClellan added 15 points, making a number of key plays in the second half when it looked like the Zags were in danger of giving away the lead.

As good as Gonzaga looked in the first 22 minutes of this game — and they looked really, really good — the second half exposed the concerns that many had with this group entering the season. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., who both shot around 40 percent from beyond the arc and started for four years, graduated, meaning that Gonzaga’s point guard situation is, more or less, Josh Perkins.

Perkins was terrific in the second half of a loss to Texas A&M on Thursday. He played 17 foul-plagued minutes against UConn. When UConn’s defense ratcheted up during the second half, Gonzaga struggled finding a way to consistently get good shots on the offensive end. Part of that was due to ineffective point guard play and part of it was a result of not really having anyone on the offensive end that can create a look on their own. As skilled as Wiltjer is, his impact can be limited when pick-and-pop actions aren’t working and he’s getting doubled in the post.

Perkins is talented, but this is essentially his first season of college basketball; he was a medical redshirt last season after breaking his jaw last November. There are going to be ups-and-downs, and that’s problematic on a team where he is essentially the only point guard on the roster.

The good news?

Gonzaga beat a good UConn team on a day when their best players struggled in crunch-time. It was McClellan and Kyle Dranginis that made the big plays down the stretch, not the big names on the Gonzaga roster.