Shaka Smart

Shaka Smart adds former Vanderbilt assistant David Cason to VCU coaching staff

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With assistant Mike Rhoades accepting the head coaching position at Rice, VCU head coach Shaka Smart had a vacancy to fill on his coaching staff. Wednesday afternoon it was announced by the school that David Cason, who for the last three seasons was a member of the Vanderbilt coaching staff, had been hired to fill the vacancy.

“I’m really excited the opportunity to join the VCU basketball program. What Coach Smart, his staff and the players have done over the past five years is nothing short of remarkable,” Cason said in the release. “I’m looking forward to rejoining a longtime friend in Jeremy Ballard and continuing to build my relationships with the rest of the coaching staff and the players. My family and I can’t wait to be a part of the VCU and Richmond communities.”

Cason joins Jeremy Ballard and Mike Morrell on Smart’s coaching staff, one that has seen an assistant leave for a head coaching job in each of the last four off-seasons. So in that regard it seems pretty clear that Smart’s assistants have gone on run programs of their own, a goal for any coach working his way up the ranks.

VCU’s made four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances under Smart, and¬†the Rams have won at least one game in three of those trips with this year being the exception. The Rams will have to account for the graduation of guard Rob Brandenburg and center Juvonte Reddic, but most of their rotation from last season (including guard Briante Weber and wing Treveon Graham) will be back in 2014-15.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown:

Niang, Morris lead No. 14 Iowa State past No. 24 Texas

Iowa State forward Georges Niang drives past Texas guard Tevin Mack, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After falling at Texas Tech for the second straight season midweek, No. 14 Iowa State needed to bounce back with No. 24 Texas visiting Hilton Coliseum. The return of Jameel McKay, who was suspended for two games, certainly helped the Cyclones and the play of Georges Niang and Monte Morris was key as well. But the biggest difference on this night was the fact that Iowa State was able to limit the effectiveness of Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor.

 

Taylor scored just nine points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field, and with Morris and Niang scoring 24 points apiece the Cyclones won by the final score of 85-75.

Taylor had multiple opportunities to make plays around the basket thanks to his ability to beat defenders off the bounce, but he struggled to finish. Add in a 0-for-4 night from three, and Texas’ most dangerous offensive option was unable to duplicate his performance in the first meeting between the two teams. In Texas’ 94-91 overtime win over the Cyclones January 12, Taylor scored 28 points and dished out six assists with just one turnover, shooting 11-for-17 from the field.

Four Longhorns finished in double figures, with Tevin Mack and Javan Felix scoring 18 apiece, but with Morris decisively winning the point guard matchup Texas was unable to pick up the win on the road.

For Iowa State the aforementioned tandem of Morris and Niang performed as they did in the first meeting, which should come as no surprise. What helped them, especially when it came to Texas attacking the basket, was the presence of McKay. McKay finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 22 minutes of action, and to have their best interior defender back on the floor certainly helped the Cyclones on this night.

With their lack of depth Iowa State’s margin for error is small, especially when it comes to foul trouble, injuries and disciplinary reasons.¬†Even with Texas’ size advantage Iowa State outscored them in the paint 48-34, and McKay’s defensive ability factored into that. The Cyclones can put points on the board with the best of them, but at some point they’ll need to string together stops as the games get even bigger.

Iowa State managed to do that down the stretch, with Morris and Niang running the show offensively. And that’s a good formula to be able to rely upon as the season approaches its most important month.