Eric Angevine

California v Syracuse

Cal’s Cobbs pain-free, expects to be “100 percent” by November

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The hype over Arizona’s upcoming season is warranted, but the Cal Bears won’t surrender the Pac-12 without a fight this season.

Things looked bad a few weeks ago, when Cal’s senior point guard Justin Cobbs went down with a foot injury, but Cobbs spoke with writer Jeff Faraudo of the Bear Talk blog and declared himself on track to participate in practice, and play in the Bears’ Nov. 8 opener against Coppin State.

“I feel really good about it. I’m not worried,” Cobbs told Faraudo. “Just stay healthy and stay focused. I should be back 100 percent.”

Cobbs had a screw inserted in the metatarsal bone in his right foot. Doctors have told him his foot will be stronger after the healing process is complete. The senior guard said he’d been running on a treadmill without any pain recently.

Cobbs has found perspective on his own recovery by comparing his situation to that of teammate Ricky Kreklow, who suffered a more extensive fracture in the same area of the foot and had to sit out all of last season. Cobbs is excited to get back on the court with Kreklow this season.

Kreklow, penciled in as a starter before last season, also is doing well, Cobbs said.

“People are going to finally see Ricky Kreklow for the type of player he is because he’s not going to have to worry about that foot,” Cobbs said. “He’s Jorge (Gutierrez) with a little jumper.”

Gutierrez, who won Pac-12 Player of the Year honors two seasons ago, gave the Bears a high-energy defender.

“Ricky’s very active. He loves physicality, diving on the floor, getting under people’s skin on defense,” Cobbs said. “That’s what we need.”

With Kreklow’s defensive prowess in reserve, and Cobbs and Jabari Bird forming what may be the Pac-12’s most exciting backcourt, don’t sleep on the Bears this season.

Butler entertains former Miami commit Henriquez this weekend

Butler Big East Basketball
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Butler rose to the top echelon of college basketball by recruiting solid midwestern kids, for the most part. It was a tent pole for the Butler Way, and it worked.

Which isn’t to say that the school will turn down a bit of flash, having grown from the Horizon to the A-10 to the Big East in a very short period of time.

This weekend, the Indianapolis Star reports that first-year Bulldogs head man Brandon Miller is entertaining former Miami Hurricanes commit Adonys Henriquez, who will make the trip to Indianapolis all the way from his home in Orlando, Florida. The 6-foot-5 Henriquez initially committed to Jim Larranaga in December 2012, but re-opened his recruitment in August of this year.

Henriquez’s high school coach Reggie Kohn said programs like Creighton, DePaul, Minnesota and Vanderbilt had visited open gym workouts recently, scoping out his player. Miller, the least known of the bunch, might have an edge, according to Kohn.

Kohn said he has come away with a favorable impression of Miller, the new Butler coach.

“I like him,” he said. “I can’t say that about all the coaches who come through here. I got a good chance to talk with him. At the same time, it’s a bit of an unknown and he obviously has big shoes to fill. But I’ve heard nothing but good things and came away with a good feeling myself from him.”

Kohn said Henriquez doesn’t have a timeline for a commitment but does plan to sign in November.

It’ll be interesting to see what Miller and the Bulldogs can do with their exalted status as Big East members. Beating rivals from their new conference to players like Henriquez will be a good sign.

Transfer Tarik Black praises Jayhawk freshmen after boot camp

Memphis Tigers Goodwin and Black during the second half of their third round NCAA tournament basketball game against the Michigan State Spartans in Auburn Hills
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“Boot Camp” is a popular term for tough pre-season workouts. Frank Haith actually had his Missouri players work out with the National Guard, and VCU’s Shaka Smart has had his squad train with a former Navy Seal. Bill Self’s workouts at Kansas don’t have any actual military component, but they are known to be intense.

Memphis transfer Tarik Black, who will play one season for the Jayhawks, just completed the KU boot camp and declared it one of the hardest thing’s he’s ever done in his basketball career.

“Later on in the season, I actually fell out of shape a little bit,” Black told the Lawrence Journal-World, referencing his junior season at Memphis. “The things we went through at Boot Camp … people would be shocked to see me doing that stuff now. They definitely would be. We got through it, came together as a team and now, here we are.”

Kansas will look to Black for some leadership on a team that will have to rely heavily on freshmen. The senior transfer told the newspaper that he was impressed with what the new kids showed him during the week of heavy-duty practices filled with running and workouts.

Black said he was impressed with the effort of KU’s six freshmen — Joel Embiid, Brannen Greene, Conner Frankamp, Frank Mason, Wayne Selden and Andrew Wiggins.

“If I was a freshman going through this stuff I would have given up. I can honestly say that right now,” Black said. “We didn’t have any freshmen give up. We didn’t have any freshmen hurling in the trash can. Everybody made it through.”

Black saw just one Jayhawk puke at Boot Camp, on Friday.

“I’ve got to put my boy, Naadir, on blast, man,” Black said with a smile. “The last day, today, he let it go. Like coach said, the last day is hardest day of Boot Camp. He had to do so many more (suicide sprints). He said he ate some weird stuff last night. He had to let it go.”

Boot camps are all about building team concept and conditioning, but the mental fortitude gained by pushing through pain is the real payoff. According to Black and his head coach, KU’s all-important freshmen, as well as putative point guard Naadir Tharpe, took everything the coaching staff could dish out and more. That kind of mental toughness will come in handy as Kansas goes for a tenth straight Big 12 title this season.

Report: Pseudo-Bucky is roaming Madison, Wisconsin

MARY SPICUZZA – State Journal
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Bucky the Badger is a common sight at Camp Randall Stadium these days, and soon enough we’ll be seeing him on the sidelines at the Kohl Center, rooting Bo Ryan’s troops on in their nearly decade-and-a-half streak of NCAA tournament appearances.

Where Bucky shouldn’t be, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, is hanging out at the state Capitol building in the early afternoon. Apparently, the Bucky that has showed up at political events, holding a sign that reads “Let Freedom Sing”, is not the real deal, and he’s not even a particularly effective cosplay imitator, at that.

From the State Journal’s report:

A person in a Bucky Badger imitation costume has made recent lunchtime visits to the Capitol for the Solidarity Singalong, but its “puffy features, odd coloring and sloppy sweater” give away that the Bucky is not the real deal, according to a UW-Madison press release.

UW-Madison is calling upon Wisconsinites to know their favorite badger.

“If you find yourself standing next to a fake Bucky, know that it is not a representative of UW-Madison,” the press release said. “Please do not treat it as you would the Buckingham you know and love.”

To add insult to injury, the ersatz badger is cutting into the legit action of a local business. The official Bucky costume is made by the Olympus Group of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The University is making moves to halt the sale of the unlicensed costumes.

Until then, remember this: you don’t need no stinking Badgers. Only the relatively odor-free, properly dressed Badgers will do. Bo knows the real thing when he sees it, and so should you.

@stfhoops

 

It’s raining recruits for Rick Pitino in Seattle

Shaqquan Aaron
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Sometimes it must be pretty rough being Lorenzo Romar. He gets the lip service from top recruits in the Pacific Northwest, but recently he’s been publicly spurned by recruits like Kyle Wiltjer, Terrence Jones and Enes Kanter, all of whom chose to leave home to play for John Calipari at Kentucky.

And it doesn’t end there. Our most recent national title-winning commonwealth-based coach and Hall of Famer, Rick Pitino, has practically made a second home in Romar’s backyard, and he’s not shy about saying so.

“We have a Seattle pipeline that’s been very good to us,” Pitino told the Seattle Times’ Percy Allen last week. “It’s a fertile area with some of the best basketball at the high-school level in the country.”

Pitino snagged versatile point-forward Terrence Williams from the Seattle area back in 2005, and more recently rode Peyton Siva’s ballhandling skills to a national championship. So who’s next?

Shaqquan Aaron is the next Seattle-to-Louisville standout. The Rainier Beach High senior forward is considered a four-star prospect by the major recruiting services. Rivals ranks him 27th nationally and ESPN 53rd.

Pitino said Siva and Williams have helped bolster Louisville’s reputation in Seattle.

“The more success those guys have, the more the younger ones – the next generation – sees that and affiliates that to Louisville,” Pitino said. “They’re our greatest ambassadors. They sell the program better than I ever could.”

Romar’s roster is hardly bare of local products, but there’s no doubt his team could have been a serious national title contender in the past few seasons had he kept some of his players from upping and moving south.

BYU gets early jump on 2018 recruiting class

Dave Rose
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I know coaches like to get the jump on their rivals by getting a kid’s verbal commitment early, but this is ridiculous. Dave Rose has offered a scholarship to 6’1″ guard Frank Jackson, and Jackson has accepted. The rub is that Jackson isn’t expected to suit up for Brigham Young until 2018.

It’s not as bad as it sounds. Jackson is actually a high school sophomore, which isn’t so far off the pale. He’s planning to take a two-year mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints right after he matriculates, however, so Rose’s offer to honor Jackson’s service and hold a spot for him until he’s done with his mission makes a lot of sense.

The highly-regarded local product has been on the school’s radar for some time, according to Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune:

Jackson played his freshman season at Lehi High School, averaging 10 points a game for the Pioneers. His family moved into the Lone Peak boundaries last spring.

Jackson scored 30 points against Lone Peak last February in a 90-71 loss to the Knights, ironically. He also had big games against Pleasant Grove, scoring 27 and 21 points in two outings against the Vikings.

“There’s no question he’s a highly regarded player,” Lone Peak coach Quincy Lewis told The Salt Lake Tribune in June.

Jackson has attended BYU team camps for several years. He averaged 1.3 assists per game for Lehi last season.

Patience has always paid off for BYU and other Utah schools. Talented players from the LDS Church tend to stay with the local schools, take their missions, and return with tons of life experience and maturity to go with their basketball abilities. Our latest example is super-scorer Tyler Haws, who was profiled by Rob Dauster last season. Rose has done an excellent job of identifying talent and keeping the right kids close to home in recent seasons, so we’ll be interested to see if Jackson is worth the wait as well.