Daniel Martin

Olaf Schaftenaar

Oregon State freshman gets technical for dunking pregame, Beavers lose by 1 to Cal

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Olaf Schaftenaar was making the first start of his career Saturday for Oregon State after averaging 4.0 points and 1.2 rebounds per game off the bench to begin the year. But before his day against Cal could officially start, he made a mistake.

In pregame layup lines, Schaftenaar dunked which, as harmless as it may sound, is a technical foul. Cal’s Allen Crabbe was given two free throws and he hit one of two. That made the score 1-0 when the game tipped off moments later.

For much of the game, the miscue did not seem to matter. Cal led by nine points at halftime and pushed the lead to as much as 13 in the second half. But then the Beavers came back.

Ahmad Starks and Joe Burton led an Oregon State comeback that gave the Beavers a chance to win, down 60-59 with possession of the ball and four seconds remaining. OSU inbounded to Starks, who had to dribble the length of the floor and fire a three from the left wing that was no good. One point loss, 60-59.

Is it entirely Schaftenaar’s fault? Of course not. There are too many factors going into a basketball game to pinpoint a small pregame technical and make it the scapegoat. Oregon State could have just as easily converted one more free throw (15-of-23 on the night) and hypothetically tied the game, as well.

But it is the type of play that underscores the problem. It was a small mistake that could have determined the outcome and a series of those does not help a team that finds itself 3-12 in the Pac-12. The accumulation of these small mistakes could have turned the tide in previous three-point losses to Cal and Washington State, as well as one-point losses to USC and Towson.

It’s all theoretical, but it could mean the difference between the bottom of the conference and an NIT berth.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Pregame Shootaround 2.24.13: Big Ten rules the day with Michigan State-Ohio State

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Game of the Day: No.4 Michigan State vs. No. 18 Ohio State (4:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

The heavyweight bouts in the Big Ten have been a Sunday treat throughout conference play and it continues today. Ohio State got a key win over Minnesota on Wednesday, but now welcomes a Michigan State team that had won five straight before falling to No. 1 Indiana earlier this week.

The biggest positional matchup Sunday will be at the point guard spot. Michigan State’s Keith Appling was bothered by the different types of pressure that Indiana placed on him on the defensive end and he struggled because of it. It gets no easier Sunday, as Appling meets one of the best defenders in the country, Aaron Craft. To compensate, Appling will need to get others involved, including Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix down low, as well as Gary Harris and Branden Dawson on the perimeter.

For Ohio State, it will be the same as it always is. Turn defense into offense and provide support for Deshaun Thomas offensively so he doesn’t have to shoulder all of the scoring load. If Thomas can settle in and have a comfortable 25% stake in the overall scoring output and the Buckeyes are efficient with the ball, they are tough to beat.

Who’s Getting Upset?: No. 20 Pittsburgh (-7) vs. St. John’s (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

St. John’s has made it tough for quality teams to come into Madison Square Garden over the past few seasons under Steve Lavin and Pittsburgh will face that Sunday. The scoring duo of D’Angelo Harrison and JaKarr Sampson has emerged as one of the better young combos in the Big East, plus junior college transfer Marco Bourgault is providing quality minutes and a three-point threat to stretch the defense.

Pittsburgh will be limited on the interior if shot-blocking freshman Chris Obekpa and his 4.1 blocks per game can stay out of foul trouble on Sunday. Ultimately, though, it will come down to whether St. John’s is making shots. If they struggle from the field, Pittsburgh has enough to win. If the Red Storm are hot, we could have an upset in New York City.

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Big East announces agreement with ESPN to extend media rights deal

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The Big East has accepted a matching offer sheet from ESPN, keeping the network as its primary media rights holder through the 2019-20 season, the conference confirmed Saturday.

In total, the deal is reportedly worth $130 million over seven years. That matches the deal put forth by the NBC Sports Network last week.  It will be worth approximately $1.8 million annually per school, once this major round of conference realignment takes hold and the Big East has 12 members.

“ESPN has matched the third-party offer that the Big East Conference received, and, subject to Big East board approval, ESPN and the Big East will continue, for years to come, their long-term relationship, which began in 1980,” conference commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement.

There has been a great deal of movement since the Big East was offered $1.17 billion by ESPN two years ago. In that time, 16 teams have left or intend to leave the conference. The core of Catholic schools in the Big East have broken off to form a basketball-centric league, which is likely the next to sign a major media rights deal.

To read the entire financial breakdown of the deal, click here.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Memphis clinches at least share of C-USA title with win over Southern Miss

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Memphis extended its winning streak to 18 games and clinched at least a share of the Conference USA with its victory over Southern Miss, 89-73, Saturday afternoon at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn.

Since dropping out of the Top 25 and being the team that became fashionable to label “disappointing” after its performance in the Battle 4 Atlantis, Memphis has been on a tear. Coach Josh Pastner’s team has lost just one game in that span (22-1) and have an average margin of victory of just under 14 points per game.

A key has been point guard Joe Jackson, who has only failed to score in double figures three times since Atlantis and had 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists Saturday against Southern Miss.

In a weak C-USA this season, Memphis is doing all that it can. It does not allow for the Tigers to get a quality win in conferences games, rather into turns into a series of dodging possible resume blemishes. But Memphis has now hung 89 points on Southern Miss both at home and on the road and won by double digits twice.

That gives coach Josh Pastner’s team some room to operate. If Memphis slips up and loses in the conference tournament in Tulsa next month, they will still be in a position to grab an at-large bid. Southern Miss on the other hand likely needs to secure the automatic through the conference tournament to get avoid falling into the NIT.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Last-second layup gives Indiana State win over Iona, but automatic bid could be best shot at NCAAs

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Indiana State has had to power its way through a tough Missouri Valley Conference this season, but got no break Saturday in a BracketBuster non-conference matchup against Iona.

Jake Odum found Dawon Cummings for a layup with four seconds remaining to lift the Sycamores to a 65-64 win at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute, Ind.

But for Indiana State, this is more about not losing than getting a quality win. Iona’s RPI ranks 134th in the country, meaning that the Sycamores avoided another blemish on their resume.

ISU (RPI: 64) is likely on the wrong side of the bubble right now and can’t be too confident as an at-large with the resume it has built. Yes, there are wins over Miami, Ole Miss, and Creighton, but also losses to Missouri State, Bradley, Morehead State, and Southern Illinois. They have five losses to teams with an RPI of 150 or above.

The three game losing streak that was snapped Saturday is a major hurdle that they might not be able to overcome. Obviously a Missouri Valley tournament title would punch the automatic ticket to the NCAAs, but could a long run in that tournament could do the trick, too?

If Indiana State does not get the automatic, but wins its final two regular season games and makes a run in St. Louis, the Sycamores could present one of the more confusing tournament resumes to the selection committee.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Akron extends winning streak to 18 with win over North Dakota State

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While everyone else is busy talking about No. 2 Miami being undefeated in the ACC, there is a team in the MAC making a similar run.

Zeke Marshall’s 14 points paced Akron as the Zips extended their winning streak to a NCAA-leading 18 games with a 68-53 win over North Dakota State on Friday night in Ohio.

“Akron’s good. . . . That’s all there is to it,” North Dakota State coach Saul Phillips said. “They’re good.” Watch highlights below:

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_