John Swofford

The Secondary Break: Friday’s Links

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ACC finalizing deal to play its tournament at Barclays Center (Sports Illustrated)
When the ACC expanded to include Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, some wondered if the conference would move its basketball tournament north. Madison Square Garden was the focus, but with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn the conference can get into the world’s largest media market there as well. And that will reportedly happen in 2017.

Time for young Wildcats to grow up (
Kentucky will begin SEC tournament play on Friday, signaling the start of postseason play for a team that to this point hasn’t met the expectations set in the preseason. The good news is that postseason play is a rebirth of sorts, with teams having the opportunity to end their season on a positive note. And in order for Kentucky to do that, their young players need to grow up.

Time to show UW’s Romar a little loyalty (The News Tribune)
Washington completed a disappointing season on Wednesday, losing to Utah in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament. Losing Jernard Jarreau for the season in the opener didn’t help matters, and the Huskies dealt with a lack of depth for much of the season. Yet even with this being the case, some have gotten a bit frustrated when it comes to the state of the program.

Florida’s fate is in Wilbekin’s hands (Florida Today)
No. 1 Florida will play its first SEC tournament game on Friday, with the Gators facing Missouri in the quarterfinals. Florida hopes to win nine more games, and the key for the Gators will be the play of senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin. After missing time due to a suspension, Wilbekin’s been a very important player for head coach Billy Donovan.

Steve Donahue will return as head coach next season (BC Interruption)
Late Thursday it was reported that Boston College head coach Steve Donahue will return for another season, and it’s safe to say that more than a few BC fans aren’t thrilled with the decision of athletic director Brad Bates.

Dump league tourneys – for the good of college basketball (Salt Lake Tribune)
Another day, another argument against conference tournaments. In this column the writer argues that larger conferences don’t gain much for the event, and a dominant regular season champ in a smaller league can miss out on the NCAA tournament if they lose in the conference tournament.

Lack of accountability dooms Marquette (Paint Touches)
Marquette’s Big East tournament experience came to an end on Thursday, with the Golden Eagles falling to Xavier 68-65. Even before the loss fans were attempting to diagnose what was wrong with Marquette this season, with a lack of both accountability and leadership being evident throughout the season.

Brooks’ big game leads No. 15 Oregon over Fresno State 78-73

Dillon Brooks, Torren Jones
AP Photo/Chris Pietsch
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Dillon Brooks had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 15 Oregon staved off a late rally by Fresno State for a 78-73 victory Monday night.

Chris Boucher and Elgin Cook added 14 points each for the Ducks (6-0), who led 70-52 with 6:35 to play before Marvelle Harris scored 13 points in a 16-2 run by the Bulldogs (5-1) that cut the deficit to four.

A driving layup by Brooks put Oregon up 74-68 with 1:20 left, and the Ducks held on by making four of six free throws in the final 45 seconds.

Harris, who didn’t score until the 12:04 mark of the second half, led Fresno State with 18 points, while Paul Watson added 11 and Torren Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 41-32 behind Jones and Karachi Edo, who had nine rebounds and 10 points.

Freshman Tyler Dorsey, Oregon’s leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, finished with 12.

The Ducks scored the game’s first 11 points, went up by as many as 14 and took a 37-25 halftime lead. The Ducks did most of the damage from inside the 3-point arc (9 of 10) and at the free throw line, outscoring the Bulldogs 13-5.

Fresno State, meanwhile, missed its first six shots from the field, shot 29.0 percent (9 of 31) and saw its top two scorers, Harris and Cezar Guerrero, held scoreless for the first 20 minutes.

The senior guards came in averaging 20.2 and 13.2 points per game, respectively.


Fresno State: Harris, the preseason choice for Mountain West Conference player of the year, needed one point to crack the Bulldog’s all-time top 10 in scoring. After going scoreless in the first half, he finished with 18 to rank 10th with 1,425, one behind Tod Bernard in ninth place, in 107 career games. . The Bulldogs fell to 2-10 all-time against Oregon. They last time they beat the Ducks, who have won the last five meetings, was in 1995. . Fresno State hasn’t beaten a Top 25 team on the road since 2000.

Oregon: The double-double was the second of the season Brooks and fourth of his career. . The Ducks are 40-2 against nonconference opponents since moving into Matthew Knight Arena five years ago. . The 6-0 start is Oregon’s second in the last nine years. The Ducks started 13-0 two seasons ago.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.