Steve Lavin

St. John’s adds another front court player to its 2014-15 roster

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With classes at many schools set to begin in short order, some college basketball programs are still going through the process of adding players to their 2014-15 rosters. One such team is St. John’s which on Wednesday announced the addition of 6-foot-9 forward Amar Alibegovic. Alibegovic, who played on Bosnia’s Under-20 team this summer, also played with Stella Azzurri’s junior team this past season.

“We are pleased that Amar has chosen to join our St. John’s basketball family,” St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin said in the release. “Amar has the skill, size and basketball intellect to help fuel our purposes as we continue to build our program into a sustainable winner.”

Alibegovic averaged six points and just over three rebounds per game for Stella Azzurri in 2013-14, and he’s been described by some as a “stretch four.” He’s also the third addition to the St. John’s program this offseason, and all three have the size needed to help the Red Storm in the front court with 6-foot-11 center Adonis Delarosa and 6-foot-8 forward Kevin Thomas being the other additions.

The Red Storm lost their top two rebounders at the end of the 2013-14 season, with JaKarr Sampson foregoing his final two seasons of eligibility to turn pro and Orlando Sanchez running out of eligibility. That left guard D’Angelo Harrison (4.9 rpg) and center Chris Obekpa (4.8) as the team’s leading returning rebounders, meaning the newcomers (especially Thomas) will be asked to help in this area.

St. John’s finished the 2013-14 season with a 20-13 record (10-8 Big East), losing to Robert Morris in the first round of the Postseason NIT.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

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: