Rob Dauster

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Markelle Fultz, Kelly Kline/Under Armour

USA Basketball’s U18 FIBA Americas team announced

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USA Basketball officially announced the U18 team that will be traveling to Chile to participate in the FIBA Americas Championship.

The team will remain in Houston for the next week to train and practice as they prepare for the tournament, which will take place July 19-23. There is a gold medal at stake, and the teams that finish in the top four of this tournament automatically qualify for next year’s U19 World Championships.

Here is the roster, which will be coached by Texas’ Shaka Smart, who will count Mark Turgeon and Kevin Ollie as assistants. The one thing worth noting here: Markelle Fultz, a potential No. 1 pick in the Class of 2017, is young enough to play on the U18 team.

  • Jarrett Allen (St. Stephen’s Episcopal School/Round Rock, Texas)
  • Mohamed Bamba (Westtown School/New York, N.Y.)
  • James Banks (Texas)
  • Matt Coleman (Oak Hill Academy/Norfolk, Va.)
  • Hamidou Diallo (Putnam Science Academy/Corona, N.Y.)
  • Markelle Fultz (Washington)
  • Quade Green (Newmann-Goretti H.S./Philadelphia, Pa.)
  • Kevin Huerter (Maryland)
  • Michael Porter Jr. (Father Tolton Catholic H.S./Columbia, Mo.)
  • M.J. Walker (Jonesboro H.S./College Park, Ga.)
  • P.J. Washington (Findlay Prep, Nev./Frisco, Texas)
  • Trae Young (Norman North H.S./Norman, Okla.)

Duke’s unimpressive non-conference schedule bad for the sport

Teammates congratulate Duke's Grayson Allen (3) during the first half of a second round game against Yale in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Providence, R.I., Saturday, March 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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Duke released their non-conference schedule on Wednesday, and while the highlights of the schedule will be the highlights of the non-conference season, there really isn’t all that much to sink your teeth into.

The Blue Devils will square off with Kansas in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden in what will likely be the most anticipated non-conference game in 2016. Duke will be the consensus preseason No. 1 team in the country while Kansas will likely be in the top five; we have them No. 3.

Duke also squares off with Michigan State, another preseason top ten team, in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

But after that?

They play seven games against mid-major or low-major competition with absolutely zero chance of beating the Blue Devils; the spread in all those games will be over 20 points. Their date with Florida in the Jimmy V Classic is better on paper than it will be in person, and their trip to Vegas to play UNLV looked a lot more difficult before the UNLV program imploded.

And then there is the Hall of Fame Tip-Off tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena, where Duke gets Penn State (meh) in the opener before facing off with either Cincinnati or Rhode Island, both of whom are borderline top 25 teams. That game should be competitive, especially if Duke plays URI and the URI faithful make the hour drive to see the Rams play Duke, but it’s a sad state of affairs when the third or fourth best game that Duke will play in the first six weeks of the season is one that we hope will be competitive.

That’s how it works with college basketball early in the season, and it’s one of the biggest reasons that the sport continues to lose relevance. Less than a third of Duke’s schedule in the first two months of the season is worth watching for diehard college basketball fans, and only two of those games will convince anyone with something better to do than sit on their couch and watch sports to make the effort to see them play. More than half of their schedule comes against completely overmatched opponents.

And this is the norm.

Sure, Kentucky and Kansas and North Carolina may have had some better luck with their marquee games this season than Duke did, but that doesn’t affect the overall trend in college basketball: Too many of the games that get played are blowouts that aren’t worth watching.

You can’t blame Duke for Florida and UNLV being down. And it’s not their fault that the Hall of Fame Tip-Off committee couldn’t land another elite program for that event.

But it is their fault that they play seven games against relative no-names before Christmas, and who is going to tune in to see Duke put a 40 point mollywhopping on Maine or Grand Canyon when we can watch our fantasy football dreams whither away and die along with the rest of America?

(UPDATE: People seem to be taking this as a shot at Duke, and it’s not meant to be, so I’m going to elaborate a bit more on this.

This is not always the case, but generally speaking, the industry standard for high-major programs is to play at least seven of their 13 non-conference games at home. This generates revenue, whether it be making season ticket packages more appealing and easier to sell or profiting off of the food, apparel and parking that sports fans always seem to be spending their money on. Some programs require more than seven games.

This becomes a problem when you look at how Duke scheduled: They play two neutral site games in New York and two in Connecticut. Their trip to Vegas is, technically, a neutral site game, as is their game against Elon in Greensboro. If you bust out your calculator, that means that Duke has six neutral site games on their schedule — not unusual for the Blue Devils — which means that they cannot schedule a home-and-home for this season if the athletic department wants them to play seven non-conference games at Cameron Indoor Stadium. And that’s before you consider that the games against Grand Canyon and Marist are given to the Blue Devils by the organizers of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, which is typical for the early season tournaments.

Now imagine that this is happening at all of the visible, high-major programs around the country. No one is going to volunteer to play a road game with getting a home game in return, and with the way that these schedules shake out, it’s impossible for a lot of these programs to actually play true road games.

So what happens is that the low- and mid-major programs willingly accept a big check and a chance to play on national television in exchange for, in all likelihood, taking a whipping on the road.

And so what we’re left with is this situation, which no one can argue is good for the sport of college basketball even if, individually, it is in the best interest of the individual programs.)

If we really want people to pay attention to college basketball outside of the month of March, they need to be provided with something worth paying attention to. That’s true of just two of the 13 games that Duke, the biggest brand and the preseason No. 1 team in the country, announced today.

Anyway, here is Duke’s full schedule:

Nov. 11: Grand Canyon

Nov. 12: TBA

Nov. 15: vs. Kansas (MSG, Champions Classic)

Nov. 19: vs. Penn State (Mohegan Sun Arena, Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
Nov. 20: vs. Cincinnati/Rhode Island (Mohegan Sun Arena, Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off)

Nov. 23: William & Mary

Nov. 26: Appalachian State

Nov. 29: Michigan State (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)

Dec. 3: Maine

Dec. 6: vs. Florida (MSG for Jimmy V Classic)

Dec. 10: vs. UNLV (Las Vegas)

Dec. 19: Tennessee State

Dec. 21: vs. Elon (Greensboro, N.C.)

*(NOTE: Duke’s release initially included Marist as their Nov. 12th opponent, but they subsequently announced that game had not yet been confirmed.)

Star Lamonte Bearden to transfer from Buffalo

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
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Buffalo suffered a major blow on Wednesday as starting point guard Lamonte Bearden will be transferring out of the program.

The school confirmed the news with a statement on Wednesday morning.

“I spoke with Lamonte Bearden last week about his basketball future and he thought it would be in his best interest to transfer,” head coach Nate Oats said in a statement. “Even though I am disappointed in his decision, I want him to be at peace with where he is at. He has been given his release to pursue other options.”

“As we have done since we’ve been here, we will move on and continue to win at a high level. We are truly excited about the players we have here and the upcoming season.”

Bearden was a four-star recruit coming out of high school that ended up at Buffalo, where he started the past two seasons. He averaged 8.3 points and 4.4 assists as a freshman and, after losing head coach Bobby Hurley and their two leading scorers, his 13.7 points as a sophomore helped lead the Bulls to their second straight NCAA tournament.

Bearden will immediately become one of the best point guards on the transfer market. He has two years of eligibility remaining but must sit out the 2016-17 season.

Duke’sTatum wins national prep athlete honors

East forward Jayson Tatum, from Chaminade in St. Louis dunks against the West team during the McDonald's All-American boys basketball game, Wednesday, March 30, 2016, in Chicago. The West won 114-107. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
(AP Photo/Matt Marton)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) Jayson Tatum, a forward headed to Duke was honored as the male national prep athlete of the year Tuesday night.

Tatum starred at Chaminade College Prep in Creve Coeur, Missouri. He averaged 29.5 points and 9.1 rebounds as a senior, leading the suburban St. Louis school to this year’s Class 5 state championship. Tatum scored 40 points in the title game, a mark he topped in six games as a senior.

Tatum accepted his silver trophy from Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, LA Rams player Todd Gurley, NBA rookie of the year Karl-Anthony Towns, who won two years ago, and retired soccer star Landon Donovan.

“Dad, I love you,”‘ Tatum said. “Mom, I’m the biggest momma’s boy in the world and I’m not going to change anytime soon.”

Tatum thanked his high school teammates and his fellow nominees, saying, “Any one of us could have won this award.”

 

Previous winners of the award sponsored by Gatorade include LeBron James, Dwight Howard, and Kevin Love.

How often do coaches play players with two first half fouls? We know now

Jim Boeheim
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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One of the most polarizing debates when it comes to college basketball strategy is what a coach should do with a player that has picked up two fouls in the first half of a game.

And there really is no easy answer.

On the one hand, these are college kids we’re talking about. They’re 19, 20, 21 years old. They’re not seasoned veterans. They’re going to make mistakes. They’re going to commit fouls. As a coach, do you really want to risk an important player picking up an early third foul, particularly when that player only gets five fouls to begin with? Three fouls in the first half means that the kid is one foul away from having to play totally passive on the defensive end of the floor.

As long as the score is still close and your bench guys are doing their jobs, it’s not necessarily wrong to try and ride out the first half to ensure your best players will be on the floor in crunch time. I get that line of thinking.

But …

I also understand — and, to a degree, agree more with — putting your players back in the game with two first half fouls. There’s something to be said for trusting your players to avoid fouls, particularly if they are of the veteran variety, and while I’m not totally bought into the analytics perspective here — i.e. the tenth minute being just as important as the final minute — I do think that it’s silly to risk digging yourself a hole you can’t get out of just so you have a shot at making a late comeback.

I bring all this up because our buddy Ken Pomeroy ran the numbers to see which coaches are the most likely and the least likely to play their guys with two first half fouls.

And it should come as no surprise that Jim Boeheim tops the list for high-major head coaches; he’s fourth overall, as players with two fouls were on the floor for 49.1 percent of the possible first half minutes over the past seven seasons. The Orange play a zone. That makes them less foul-prone, which makes it less risky to use a guy with two fouls that early.

Boeheim isn’t the only legend whose name is at the top of this list: Sean Miller is 32nd, Roy Williams is 39th and Coach K is 43rd. Other notable names in the top 50: Bryce Drew (15), Mike Brey (17), Lorenzo Romar (22), Josh Pastner (42).

But there are some sensational coaches at the bottom end of this list as well. On average, Virginia’s Tony Bennett (who ranks 305th out of 321 active coaches with at least one season of experience since 2009) has played a player with two first half fouls for less than 15 total minutes in the last seven season. Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall (312) has played a kid with two first half fouls for a total of 16 minutes while Archie Miller (304) averaged a total of 20 minutes in his five years at the helm of Dayton, and those are arguably the three most in-demand young coaches in the business. They will never do it unless they have to. The same goes for Rick Pitino (261), Lon Kruger (263), Will Wade (277), Larry Krystkowiak (284), Ben Jacobsen (285), Tom Izzo (294) and John Beilein (308).

What’s really interesting here is to see the differences in opinion among family, both coaching and otherwise. Archie and Sean Miller are brothers, but they totally differ in how they use players with two first half fouls. Archie never does. Sean does quite a bit.

Then take a look at Coach K’s coaching tree. Brey (17) and Steve Wojciechowski (50) are on the same page as K in terms of how to use a player with two first half fouls. Chris Collins (93) and Tommy Amaker (96) are both top 100 on this list, while Johnny Dawkins (155) is barely in the top half.

Anyway, it’s a fun little exercise worth looking at.

VIDEO: Mixtape for Kentucky freshman Malik Monk

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Malik Monk may be the most exciting and entertaining player that I’ve seen in the high school ranks.

He’s wildly inconsistent, so when he’s playing poorly he’s really, really bad. But when he’s on, he’s hitting 25-foot threes and dunking on anyone and everyone that gets in his way.

You don’t see any of the former in this mixtape. You do see a lot of the latter, however, so keep that in mind while you salivate over what Monk can do on a basketball court.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 15: West Team MVP Malik Monk (L) (Bentonville, AR) in action during the 15th iteration of the Jordan Brand Classic at Barclays Center on April 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Jordan Brand )
Malik Monk (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)