Daniel Martin

Gregg Marshall

Wichita State loses third in a row, falls to 9-point underdog Southern Illinois

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What has happened to Wichita State? A loss to Missouri Valley contender Indiana State is one thing. Falling to Northern Iowa was a game the Shockers likely wish they could have had back.

But Tuesday night showed a reason for real concern with Gregg Marshall’s team, as the Shockers fell to Southern Illinois, 64-62, at SIU Arena in Carbondale, Ill.

Wichita State led, 62-60, with 1:12 to play after a Carl Hall tip-in, but Jalen Pendleton tied the game with a layup on SIU’s next possession. The Shockers had a chance to take the lead with 0:12 to play but turned the ball over, setting up Pendleton for a jumper that was blocked but called a goaltend to take the lead with 0:03 remaining. That proved to be the game winner.

Southern Illinois was previously 1-10 in Missouri Valley play and ranked 255th in the nation in scoring, but three players scored in double figures Tuesday. T.J. Lindsey led the way with 14 points to go along with Desmar Jackson and Jeff Early with 11 each.

Hall and Cleanthony Early, Wichita State’s two biggest offensive threats who combine to average over 27 points per game, were held to just 15 points Tuesday night. Without those two producing, Demetric Williams was the only reliable scorer for WSU. He finished with 15 points.

The Shockers were also -7 in turnover differential. Point guard Malcolm Armstead had four turnovers for the second straight game, which did not help the offensive find its groove.

Wichita State now stand 1.5 games behind Creighton for the lead in the Missouri Valley Conference.

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

New Orleans chosen as host for Sun Belt Tournament through 2016

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The city of New Orleans, fresh off hosting the 2012 Final Four and the 2013 Super Bowl, has been chosen as the host site for the Sun Belt men’s and women’s championship through 2016, the conference announced Tuesday.

“New Orleans is a great destination for our basketball championships and the recent renovations to Lakefront Arena make it an excellent venue to showcase our league,” Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson said in a statement. “In addition to being a great geographical fit for our membership, New Orleans has an incredible track record of hosting great sporting events – including the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl which has had a Sun Belt participant since the inaugural game in 2001. The city’s great restaurants, shopping, entertainment and accommodations, provide Sun Belt fans numerous things to do when away from the arena.”

This year’s tournament will be held in Hot Springs, Ark., but will be moved to New Orleans in 2014, where it will remain through 2016. It will take place at Lakefront Arena, which has recently undergone over $8 million in renovations. The Sun Belt conference tournament was last held in New Orleans in 2002.

“New Orleans is a great destination for Sun Belt fans, as those who have attended the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl can attest,” Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor of Troy University and President of the Sun Belt Conference Executive Committee said in the release. “It provides an excellent geographical fit for our league and is easily reachable for our fans. As we make this announcement, however, I would be remiss if I did not thank the City of Hot Springs for four and soon to be five memorable tournaments, starting in 2009.”

The 2013 Sun Belt conference tournament begins March 8. Middle Tennessee currently leads the Sun Belt East with a 12-1 conference record. Arkansas State and Arkansas-Little Rock lead the West with an 8-5 conference mark.

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

Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood adjusting to life at Duke

Rodney Hood
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Life isn’t always easy for a college basketball transfer, and we got a peek into that life via the Duke Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper.

In a piece by Andrew Beaton, Hood gives insight into the struggles he has faced since coming from Mississippi State and enrolling at Duke this fall. Per NCAA rules, he is barred from traveling with the team unless he pays his own expenses, often leaving him at home while his team makes its way around the country.

The biggest catch? Duke’s dorms are not outfitted with cable television.

“It’s almost like a prison, like you’re on punishment type of thing,” Hood told the paper. “It wasn’t like I just decided to leave [Mississippi State]. My coach left. I went to that school to play for that coach. When he left, I felt like a big part of me left, as far as the reason I went to the school. For me to be put in this shell, and have to stay here all the time—even though Duke has a great campus—it feels like more punishment than anything.”

Hood and Rick Stansbury, the coach who left Mississippi State, had had a long relationship throughout his recruitment and Hood was Stansbury’s big recruiting catch. He was a Top 50 recruit who Stansbury spoke glowingly about on the basketball court.

For now, though, he needs to wait until next season before he can suit up for the Blue Devils.

“You sit here and battle with these guys every day, and then you can’t be there to support them,” Hood said. “[Tyler Thornton] pointed out to me the other day, ‘We’re undefeated with you on the bench.’ I ain’t think about it—not saying I get any credit for that—but I just wish I could be there.”

To read the entire piece, click here.

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

Dick Vitale, Brad Nessler, Jay Bilas to be international voices of Final Four

Dick Vitale

For the first time in his long career, Dick Vitale himself will be a broadcast “diaper dandy” at the Final Four.

Vitale, along with play-by-play man Brad Nessler and fellow analyst Jay Bilas, will be the voice of ESPN International’s broadcast of the 2013 Final Four, which reaches 150 countries through 35 networks, reaching from Latin America to Japan to Africa to Europe to Australia.

Vitale has never called games at the Final Four, despite being with ESPN since 1979, as rights to the games have been held previously by NBC and currently by CBS. He will be on the microphone April 6 and 8, while Bilas will be alongside Nessler in the other semifinal.

In his time with ESPN, Vitale has reportedly been on the call for over 2,000 NCAA games. He turns 74 years old in June.

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

Montana guard Kevin Henderson suspended after being charged with DUI

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Sophomore Kevin Henderson has been suspended from the Montana men’s basketball team after being charged with DUI Sunday, the Associated Press is reporting.

According to the report, Henderson was pulled over by campus police Sunday and found to have a blood-alcohol level of greater than 0.02, which is the legal limit for persons under the age of 21. Henderson, only a sophomore, is 20. He pleaded not guilty on Monday.

His suspension comes as a violation of the student-athlete code of conduct, the school announced, and Grizzles’ coach Wayne Tinkle says the plan of action is, “clear on the punishment, but it’s also important that Henderson learn and grow from the situation,” according to the AP.

Henderson has seen a significant increase in his minutes since his freshman season, now averaging 2.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in just over 12 minutes per game. His best game of the season came on Jan. 10 against North Dakota when he scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds in a double-digit Montana win.

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

Does the lack of a dominant team help or hurt college basketball?

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A hearty welcome to those of you just now joining the rest of us in following college basketball now that football season has ended. We’ll be running a series of posts to get all you football fans caught up on the season at-large. To read through them all, click here.

This year in college basketball is different. We don’t see a dominant favorite for a national champion like we did last year with Anthony Davis and Kentucky. The No. 1 team in the country has lost on five different occasions, including Duke twice. Every team has at lost at least twice, and seven teams currently have only two losses.

So what does that mean for college basketball? Is that parity, or a sign that the quality of the game is diminishing?

For the casual fan, one who is now getting into the swing of the season after the Super Bowl, it could seem less interesting. John Calipari and the national brand he has built at Kentucky doesn’t have the same luster this season as previous teams that featured John Wall, Brandon Knight, or Davis.

Instead, they’re a team that has looked human, a collection of freshmen that had its struggles early, but is picking up steam and looking for an NCAA tournament berth.

North Carolina has worked through something similar. They likely won’t be competing for an ACC title with Duke, especially with the emergence of a tough Miami team. James Michael McAdoo was billed as the next UNC superstar and has put up good numbers, but isn’t in National Player of the Year discussions.

And all of that plays to the state of college basketball.

Though Indiana is back and the Big Ten is the nation’s best conference, the lack of a definitive National Player of the Year or king in college basketball makes it harder to draw in the casual fan. Parity works well in some sports, but it takes a more involved fan to want to tune in for Wichita State-Creighton (as great a matchup as that is) than any run-of-the-mill mid-season NBA game.

But what that parity promises is a stellar NCAA tournament. Expect shakeups like last season, where two 15-seeds knocked off 2-seeds, or years previous when Butler and Virginia Commonwealth reached the Final Four.

This March is going to be a good one.

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