Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Colson, No. 22 Notre Dame cruise past No. 21 Virginia 71-58

Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) Since coming into the Atlantic Coast Conference four years ago, Notre Dame has more than held its own as a football school in a tough basketball league.

There was one box the Fighting Irish had not checked yet, and they did it at the best possible time.

Bonzie Colson had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 22 Notre Dame beat No. 21 Virginia for the first time since joining the ACC, topping the Cavaliers 71-58 on Thursday night to reach the tournament semifinals.

“It’s nice to get the first one when the stakes are really high,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “(The players) know everything we’ve accomplished in four years, that’s the one thing we didn’t have an answer for. They wanted to beat this program. This program has kind of had our number.”

The third-seeded Fighting Irish (24-8) will face second-seeded and No. 16 Florida State on Friday in the late semifinal at Barclays Center. North Carolina-Duke will be both the main event and opening act.

The Fighting Irish were 0-5 against the Cavaliers (22-10) since entering the ACC, never breaking 66 points in the process. For once, Notre Dame’s offense ran smoothly against Virginia’s active defense and the Irish even managed to push the pace some against the methodical Cavaliers.

“I think our smaller lineup (with the 6-foot-5 Colson at center) … really spreads the floor,” Brey said. “And Matt Farrell was fabulous with his decisions off the ball screen, dragging their help. Bonzie was slipping into space. We were hitting and making the extra pass. We’re really hard to deal with when we can get into that rhythm.”

Notre Dame started both halves strong and used an 11-0 run, highlighted by a steal and reverse slam by Rex Pflueger, to build a 17-point lead five minutes into the second half.

“I think we’re really hungry and motivated to play these guys,” Colson said. “It’s been a tough route playing them in the past, so I think we wanted it more. We got off to a great start. That’s something Coach Brey has been emphasizing, great starts on offense.”

The Cavaliers never made a serious push back.

“We were behind in the play,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “They really were moving the ball well. They’re hard to guard. They played well, and we didn’t have one of our better games.”

Devon Hall and Darius Thompson led Virginia with 12 points each.

Colson had his ACC-best 19th double-double for the Irish. They have won seven of eight.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers are not going to win many games in which their opponent shoots over 45 percent. Notre Dame shot 52.2. Virginia is not built to trade baskets, especially if leading scorer London Perrantes goes 1 for 9 from the field as he did against the Irish.

“Obviously, Notre Dame played some good defense tonight. But, yeah, missed some chippies, some layups. I had a couple of open 3s that I missed,” Perrantes said.

The Cavaliers will go as far as their defense takes them in the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s not going to change for us,” Bennett said. “It’s just doing it a little bit better and taking care of the ball.”

Notre Dame: The Irish got efficient contributions from up and down the starting lineup. Matt Farrell scored 14 points and VJ Beachem and Steve Vasturia each added 12. And the Irish did it without much help from the 3-pointer. They shot 65.5 percent from 2-point range and 29.4 from 3.

UP NEXT

Virginia: The Cavaliers will be making their fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, probably as about a fifth or sixth seed.

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish split two games with Florida State during the regular season.

“They come at you in waves, physically and athletically,” Brey said.

 

Michigan lands four-star 2018 forward Ignas Brazdeikis

Leave a comment

Michigan added to an already strong Class of 2018 recruiting haul on Friday night as four-star forward Ignas Brazdeikis pledged to the Wolverines on Twitter.

The 6-foot-8 Canadian was one of the premier scorers in the Nike EYBL this past spring and summer playing with CIA Bounce as Brazdeikis averaged 21.1 points per game on 49 percent shooting from the floor. Well-rounded outside of his scoring, Brazdeikis also put up 7.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while also showing a workable jumper that was 26 percent from three-point range.

With the job that Michigan head coach John Beilein has done developing forwards, most recently with the rapid improvement of players like D.J. Wilson and Moritz Wagner, it’ll be fascinating to see how Brazdeikis will look at the college level after some time on campus. Beilein’s offense is favorable for skilled forwards with a penchant for scoring and Brazdeikis could end up being a tremendous fit for the Wolverines.

Brazdeikis becomes the fourth member of Michigan’s Class of 2018 recruiting haul as he joins four-star forward Brandon Johns, four-star guard David Dejulius and three-star forward Taylor Currie.

Sex assault count dropped against ex-Creighton player Watson

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Prosecutors have dropped a first-degree sexual assault charge against former Creighton point guard Maurice Watson after questions arose about the accuser’s story.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced Friday that his office had dropped the felony charge, filed earlier this year when a 19-year-old woman accused Watson of assaulting her early Feb. 4 at a party in an Omaha home. Watson has denied that allegation.

The 24-year-old Watson pleaded no contest Friday to misdemeanor assault for an encounter the same night with a different Creighton student, who said Watson touched her thigh and tried to make her touch his genitals. Watson was sentenced to the five days he’d already served in jail.

Watson was a senior when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in January, just days before the party.

Storm damage forces Paradise Jam out of Virgin Islands

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MIAMI (AP) — The Paradise Jam basketball tournament will not be played in the U.S. Virgin Islands this year because of damage caused by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

The tournament will be played in the U.S., with a new site expected to be announced by Sept. 29.

The Paradise Jam field this year includes Wake Forest, Colorado, Drake, Drexel, Houston, Liberty, Mercer and Quinnipiac, and each of those schools was given the chance to bid for the right to host the tournament.

Tournament officials say they looked at multiple other options, such as moving to another island and using a cruise ship for accommodations, before deciding to move the event to the U.S.

For now, the tournament is scheduled to be played from Nov. 17-20.

Kentucky lands commitment from five-star point guard

Immanuel Quickley (USA Basketball)
1 Comment

Kentucky landed a commitment from Immanuel Quickley on Friday night, a top ten prospect and arguably the best point guard in the Class of 2018.

Quickley picked the Wildcats over Kansas, who he visited earlier this month, and Miami, who he was scheduled to visit before Hurricane Irma struck south Florida.

The 6-foot-3 point guard is the first commitment in the class of head coach John Calipari, and it really comes as no surprise. He’s been considered a Kentucky lean for months, and Quickley played for Calipari on the USA U19 team during the 2017 FIBA World Cup.

While Quickley has the size and the build – he’s 180 pounds with broad shoulders and long arms – of some of Kentucky’s former elite point guards, he’s not the same kind of point guard as, say, De’Aaron Fox or John Wall. He’s more of a smooth athlete than an explosive one, and while his long strides allow him to get out into transition, he’s not the finisher at the rim that those two were. What he is, however, is an intelligent player. He’s good in ball-screens, he’s an excellent passer and facilitator and he is a good enough shooter that he forces defenses to stay honest. He also has the potential to be a plus defender given his physical tools and the fact that he’ll try on that end of the floor.

Where this commitment gets interesting is the current point guard in Kentucky’s back court, Quade Green. Green was a five-star recruit in his own right, but he’s not quite built as a potential one-and-done prospect. Calipari has maneuvered through two point guards in the past, and each of the last five national champions have played major minutes with two point guards on the floor at the same time, but if Green is back next season that will be something to monitor.

That, however, is a long ways away.

What matters now is that Kentucky has gotten this commitment out of the way, and it paves the way for them to also receive a commitment from Zion Williamson. There has long been talk of those two attending college together, and with Quickley on the board, that likely keeps Kentucky in the driver’s seat as they pursue the South Carolina native.

If Kentucky can also wrangle a commitment out of R.J. Barrett, the No. 1 player in the 2018 recruiting class, that would likely be the end of the discussion of whether or not Duke has surpassed the Wildcats on the recruiting trail.

Five-star forward King picks Oregon

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Oregon has nabbed one of the top players in the 2018 class.

Louis King, a top-20 forward, committed to Dana Altman and the Ducks on Thursday via a video on social media.

“It’s been a tough, strenuous process,” King said, “but today makes all of that worth it. I’ve been blessed with great opportunities.”

The 6-foot-8 New Jersey native selected Oregon over other finalists Seton Hall, NC State, Purdue and Kansas.

“I would like to thank each of them for all the time and effort they put into my recruitment,” King said. “I would like to thank my coaches and my teammates that have pushed me and helped get me to this point in my career. My friends for all their love and support, but most of all I would like to thank my family, who has been by my side through it all.”

King is Altman’s second commit in 2018, joining four-star big man Miles Norris, a top-75 recruit in the class. It’s the beginning of what could be an absolutely dynamic class for Oregon, which still has two scholarships remaining.

“Out of all of my schools I felt like it was best for me and my family,” King said to MADE Hoops. “Coach Altman said that I would have the ball in my hands throughout the season. When I get there, it will be an easy adjustment for me with how I handle rock and get my teammates open. Our goal is to win a national championship next year.”