Rob Dauster

Luther Vandross, Ne-Yo will both sing ‘One Shining Moment’

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It seems the people that are making the decisions at Turner pay attention to the people, because the kerfuffle over changing the singer of One Shining Moment appears to have made them change their mind.

Luther Vandross will be on One Shining Moment, at least the version that gets played on the TBS broadcast; TBS will be airing the National Title game this year. Ne-Yo has also recorded a version of the song and it will be the one that is used on the team-specific broadcasts on TNT and truTV.

So that solves that problem.

With all due respect to Ne-Yo — I love Ne-Yo, his first two albums are some of the best mid-2000s R&B you’ll ever hear — Vandross is One Shining Moment and One Shining Moment is Vandross.

Why Buddy Hield’s proof that the new NBA Draft early entry deadline will be a good thing

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) goes up for a basket against VCU in the second half during a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City, Sunday, March 20, 2016. Oklahoma won 85-81. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
(AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
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HOUSTON — The latest change to the NBA Draft early-entry deadline is going to be a major talking point over the course of the next two months.

For those that haven’t been paying attention to the deluge of players putting their name into consideration for the draft, the difference is this: Testing the waters is a thing once again. Players can declare for the NBA Draft and go through the process, attending workouts and interviewing with teams and going through the NBA combine, and return to school as long as they withdraw from the draft within 10 days of the end of the combine. They can do this up to three times in their career.

This is phenomenal for the kids. They’ve never had a chance to be this informed about what is arguably the most important decision of their basketball career. But it’s not necessarily a good thing for the college game — Will this mean that more kids end up turning pro? — and it certainly won’t reduce the stress level of the guys that are coaching them — These control freaks aren’t going to know what their rosters look like until late-May and you expect them to be happy about it?

So don’t be surprised when this becomes a major talking point once the season ends and the draft season begins.

And through it all, what you need to remember is that allowing players to get the access to information is the most important point in all of this.

Because without it, Buddy Hield wouldn’t have turned into #BuddyBuckets.


“He comes in at 5:30 a.m. and shoots.”

That’s how Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler sets up his favorite story about teammate Buddy Hield’s notorious work ethic.

“I used to come in at 7:00 a.m., so by the time I was getting there at 7:00 a.m., he was coming out,” Spangler continued. “I come back at 11 and he’s there before me again. He had four workouts that day. I came up there with my roommate [that night] and we go on The Gun and he was still there at midnight.”

“That’s an everyday thing, not just one day.”

That is how Hield operates. That is how he went from being a 23.8 percent three-point shooter as a freshman to the guy that put together a season that can be favorably compared to J.J. Redick’s senior year, to a guy that is shooting 46.5 percent from beyond the arc while firing up nearly nine threes a night.

A change like that is possible, but it requires putting in the effort, and there’s no question that Hield is willing to put in the effort. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that that’s all he did in his spare time over the course of the last two years.

He’ll even admit it.

“I’m always in the gym. I’m always shooting. All I do is shoot in the gym,” Hield said.

But that was also part of the problem.

Because he focused all of his energy on ensuring that he’ll be a threat to shoot from beyond the arc, it meant that the rest of his game was lacking. Specifically, his ability to handle the ball, and when he was able to get feedback from NBA people about his potential as a pro after last season, they gave him the cold, hard truth.

“I wasn’t a good enough ball-handler and I couldn’t create a shot for myself,” Hield said of the feedback that he received. It was that inability to put the ball on the floor that limited the Big 12 Player of the Year to being a likely second round pick if he had decided to enter the NBA Draft as a junior.

And as you might imagine, that didn’t sit well with Hield.

“It was embarrassing,” Hield said. “You either fix it or you don’t fix it. I had to fix it this summer, and I did.”

“I just went out there and did what they say I couldn’t do.”

His teammates noticed.

“His first three years he just shot on the gun, so his first two or three years of college he was a set shooter pretty much,” Spangler said. “So he got feedback last year from the NBA saying he had to work on his handles, and I haven’t seen him on the gun since then.”

“Everything that he’s doing in his workouts is coming off ball-screens, double moves, combo-moves, shooting that way. That’s why he’s shooting so good this year. Obviously he can hit his set shots, but if someone wants to come up in him, he can break them off and get his shot, too.”

The end result of that hard work is a handful of National Player of the Year awards, leading Oklahoma to the Final Four and, in all likelihood, a spot in the top ten of the NBA Draft. That would not have been possible without Hield’s ability to get feedback from the NBA.

And in the end, that is what matters the most in this situation.

Because Hield’s deal was different. He didn’t declare for the NBA Draft. He didn’t go through the draft process. He didn’t attend the combine or workout with NBA teams. He simply got some information from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee and went to work.

But Hield is a different beast, bordering on the insane. Most of the greats are. You need to have certain physical gifts in order to be a player at that level, but you also have to have a drive that’s almost inhuman. It’s not normal to be as good at something as they are at basketball, and it’s certainly not normal for any player to make a jump like this their senior year.

“He was Player of the Year last year after his junior year,” head coach Lon Kruger said. “If they had a most improved player in the league, he maybe would have won that this year.”

The love of basketball, the desire to get better, has been in Hield since he was still a kid back in the Bahamas. As he tells it, he used to sneak out of his house when his mother would go to church at night, heading up to the park that had a basketball court. He just had to make sure that he would get home before she did to avoid getting in trouble.

That didn’t always happen.

“I heard her van come squeaking and I just ran home through a shortcut,” Hield said, telling the story of one of the nights he lost track of time. “After I got home, I hopped in the shower and acted like I was sleeping. She came in and started beating me. She is short, 5-foot-2 or 5-foot-3, but no matter how short she was she would still start slapping me or get a wire hanger and hit me.”

“It was all worth it, I’m not going to lie.”

That’s who this dude is.

He’s the kid that was so focused on getting better at basketball that he would risk getting hit with a wire hanger just to play.

Not every kid is like that.

Not every kid is going have the drive to take a couple of sentences from an advisory committee and use it to turn a weakness to a strength in the span of a summer.

Most of them are going to need to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.

And that’s what makes the chance to test the waters so important.

The way the system is set up is probably not perfect. Do we really need kids having the ability to declare three times before their senior seasons? Once should really be enough, and then they either improve enough to raise their draft stock or they don’t. And the idea of a player going through this process without representation is risky. If he has an agent, and a team promises that they’ll use a second round pick on him and then balks on that promise, there will be repercussions. I’m not sure any team wants CAA mad at them. But if it’s just the kid and his parents? How many NBA teams are going to honor that handshake agreement?

So there are inefficiencies in the process that can be improved upon.

But the point is that there is a process.

And if Buddy Hield showed us anything, it’s that the process may be more valuable than we realized.

Final Four Preview: They won’t win the title because …


We’re now just two days away from the Final Four kicking off, and as such, we’ve already taken a look at some of the key storylines this week and the x-factors at play as well as breaking down what happened when the teams that square off in the national semifinals played during the regular season.

Earlier, we took a look at what it is going to take for each team to win two games in Houston this weekend. This is why the Final Four team will not win the National Title:

North Carolina: The major question mark with North Carolina earlier this season was their toughness, which is something that I think we can safely say has been answered. If the run through the ACC tournament wasn’t answer enough, getting to the Final Four should be.

But the Tar Heels still do have two flaws that could eventually cost them a game this weekend. The most obvious is their inconsistency shooting the ball from the perimeter. Marcus Paige, Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson have been better, but every coach in the country will tell you that they’ll live with those guys taking threes as opposed to North Carolina’s big men getting post touches.

The other issue is defending ball-screen actions. Kennedy Meeks is not exactly fleet of foot. Brice Johnson is vertically explosive but he’s not great when he’s asked to move laterally. And the Orange? They like to put Michael Gbinije in ball-screen actions — they’re in the 90th-percentile nationally with 28.9 percent of their possessions ending in a ball-screen action — which can be a problem for the Tar Heels if Gbinije is allowed to turn a corner and get going downhill. With shooters all over the floor and a play maker like Gbinije, that’s an exploitable matchup for the Orange.

Oklahoma: The Sooners score 38.9 percent of their points from three-pointers, which was the 14th-highest total in college basketball this season. Michigan was the only high-major program that was more reliant on the three-ball for points than the Sooners. Two out of every five shots they take from the floor are from beyond the arc. Why does this matter? Because shooting NRG née Reliant Stadium has never been an easy thing to do. In 15 games played in this building since 2002, teams have shot 32.2 percent from distance. Is that just a fluky number? Or is it really that difficult to shoot here?

The Sooners better hope that it is the former, because the achilles’ heel for this team is that if they are not hitting their threes, they don’t really have another way to beat you.

Villanova: There are a couple things that I could see costing Villanova a win, but none is bigger than the fact that they just don’t have the same kind of athleticism as the rest of the teams left in the tournament. Josh Hart is a physical freak that plays like a physical freak, but beyond that, the Wildcats have a pair of guards in Ryan Arcidiacono and Jalen Brunson that are slow and crafty and a power forward in Kris Jenkins that is a land warrior with a jumper. Some of that is mitigated when Mikal Bridges sees the floor — he does give them so much lineup versatility — but his presence defensively takes away from what is their best offensive lineup.

I’m not sure that will be a huge issue against Oklahoma. I don’t think Ryan Spangler is really a guy that’s built for dominating smaller defenders. But if the Wildcats do end up locking horns with North Carolina in the title game, that’s the matchup that the Tar Heels will be able to take advantage of.

Syracuse: They just don’t have the size inside to deal with North Carolina’s big men. It’s really that simple. Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks are big enough and physical enough to overpower the Orange front line. It doesn’t help matters that the best lineup that the Orange can put on the floor features a five-man in Tyler Lydon that is generously listed at 200 pounds. Now to be fair, the Orange lost by just five points in the Dean Dome earlier this season, and that happened because they just packed their zone in as much as possible. That could end up working this weekend as well, but the one thing to remember: Joel Berry II and Marcus Paige are hitting threes at a better clip than they were during the middle of the year.

I think the Orange actually match up fairly well with Oklahoma and with Villanova, but the issue is getting past the first game this weekend, which is not going to be an easy task.

The NCAA mistakenly told South Carolina they got an at-large bid

South Carolina head coach Frank Martin, center, reacts after a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Texas A&M, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
(AP Photo/Sam Craft)

Buried in a story on this morning was a juicy little nugget that claimed that the South Carolina men’s basketball team was, essentially, invited and then disinvited from the NCAA tournament on Selection Sunday.

Turns out, the story was true. The NCAA confirmed it this afternoon, saying that a staffer mistakenly sent a congratulatory text to South Carolina that was not meant to be sent to them.


I feel bad for whoever it was that had to tell Frank Martin that their invitation to the tournament was a mistake.

Here’s the full statement from Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s vice president of men’s basketball championships:

“Unfortunately, during the selection show a junior men’s basketball staff member mistakenly sent a text to a member of the University of South Carolina athletics department staff via an app we used for the first time during the 2016 tournament. The text was supposed to go to all teams, congratulating them for making the tournament. Regrettably, a text meant for another institution went to South Carolina instead.”

“While the Gamecocks were given serious consideration, at no time during the selection process was South Carolina voted in to the field. Ultimately, they were one of the last four teams left out of the tournament. I take full responsibility for this clerical error and apologize to Coach Martin, his staff and team, and the entire University of South Carolina community.”

Xavier’s J.P. Macura facing a misdemeanor after dropping pants in bar underage

Xavier guard J.P. Macura (55) takes the ball to the hoop past Providence forward Ben Bentil (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, in Providence, R.I. Xavier defeated Providence 75-68. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
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Xavier guard J.P. Macura is officially your idiot of the day, as the 20-year old sophomore was charged disorderly conduct and obstructing official police business.

Why was he charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing police business?

Because Macura “knowingly drop[ped] his pants” at bar that he used a fake ID to get into.

Man, what?

Look, I’m not going to sit here and moralize about a college kid using a fake ID to get drunk and then doing something dumb while drunk. That sounds like a pretty standard night out for most college kids. I will say that J.P. might want to stop drawing that much attention to himself when he’s illegally in a bar, because I don’t think explaining this to Chris Mack is going to be much fun.

Macura was the sixth-man of the year in the Big East after averaging 9.4 points and 2.6 boards.

Final Four Previews: They can win the national title if …


We’re now just two days away from the Final Four kicking off, and as such, we’ve already taken a look at some of the key storylines this week and the x-factors at play as well as breaking down what happened when the teams that square off in the national semifinals played during the regular season.

Here, we’re going to take a look at what it is going to take for each team to win two games in Houston this weekend:

Syracuse: The Orange are going to have their work cut out for them on Saturday as they face a North Carolina team that is about as bad of a matchup on paper as anyone in the country is for the Orange. Here’s the thing to know about the Syracuse zone: It’s always been really good at taking away threes. In the 15 seasons that are in’s database, the Orange have been outside the top 75 in defensive three-point percentage just three times; they’ve never allowed opponents to shoot better than 35.4 percent from three and have not once finished outside the top half of the country in that stat.

That’s not by accident. That’s how Jim Boeheim coaches that defense. If you watch them play, there are times where the zone almost looks more like a 2-2-1 than a 2-3 because of how high the wings play. That’s designed to make it difficult to get clean looks at the rim from beyond the arc, but by extending his defense as much as he does, Boeheim leaves open the short corner and the high post, not to mention the offensive glass. The Orange are 337th in the country in defensive rebounding percentage. North Carolina? They’re third nationally in offensive rebounding percentage and they have one of the nation’s best front lines at their disposal.

What does this all mean? Well, the Orange are going to have to find a way to battle in the paint on Saturday night or else their stay in Houston is going to be short-lived. And if they can get past the Tar Heels, I think they would actually have a real shot at winning a national title.

Villanova: The key for Villanova is offensively is going to be their shot selection. The difference between the Villanova that we’ve seen over the course of the last two months — the Villanova that has looked like the best team in the country during the NCAA tournament — and the one that was mollywhopped by Oklahoma back in December is how smart they are with when they decide to shoot from the perimeter. For a stretch early in the season, the Wildcats were shooting more than half of their field goal attempts from beyond the arc and making them at a roughly-30 percent clip. That’s going to earn you a lot of losses.

During the tournament and down the stretch of the season, it was a totally different story. The Wildcats focused on getting the ball into Daniel Ochefu in the post. They put Ryan Arcidiacono in ball-screen actions and tried to get the ball into the paint. The threes they took were on kickouts and in transition as opposed to the shots they settled for because they couldn’t — or didn’t have the patience to try — find something better.

The result has been that Ryan Arcidiacono has been more productive and efficient and Josh Hart has gotten some easier looks at the rim. But the biggest beneficiary may have actually been Kris Jenkins, who has been feasting on the catch-and-shoot threes and the opportunities he gets to attack close-outs as power forwards struggle to remember that he is the most dangerous perimeter weapons Villanova has.

Villanova is good enough defensively — they’re tough, well-coached and mix up defenses enough to keep people off balance — that they’ll keep Oklahoma and whoever they play in the title game from running away from them. But their shot selection is going to determine whether or not they actually win this thing.

Oklahoma: Who shows up other than Buddy?

I mean, it’s really going to be that simple for the Sooners. You know what you’re going to get from Buddy Hield. He’s either going to be making shots like he did against VCU and Oregon, or the defense is going to be selling out to take away his touches like Texas A&M did. The Sooners have a pair of guards in their back court that have made game-winning plays and put on game-changing performances in big games this season. But both Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard have put together some clunkers during the year.

Ryan Spangler is a stretch four that can get a double-double and Khadeem Lattin is an energy guy that blocks shots, gets to the offensive glass and finishes off lobs, but they’re not the real danger for opponents. It’s Cousins and Woodard, and when those guys get it going, Oklahoma is really, really good.

North Carolina: North Carolina has the best front line in the Final Four and, to be frank, it really isn’t all that close. Brice Johnson was an AP First Team All-American. Kennedy Meeks is an all-ACC caliber player. And Isaiah Hicks? There are NBA scouts that believe he may actually be the best of the bunch when it comes to NBA potential.

Those dudes are long, they’re athletic, they’re physical and they know how to get the space they need to be effective, whether it’s on a post touch or getting to the offensive glass. The key for the Tar Heels, the way that they’re going to win the national title, is by doing what they’ve done for the last month: pounding the ball inside. Not only will that get Carolina points at the rim and opponents in foul trouble, but once teams realize that they’re not going to be able to stop Johnson and company without some kind of help, it will create open looks from the perimeter for Joel Berry II, Marcus Paige and Justin Jackson.

With the way those guys are shooting the ball right now, rhythm threes for them are the kind of back breakers that will win the Tar Heels a title. In other words, if opponents are forced to live with those guys shooting threes, and they’re making threes, that’s a bad sign for those opponents.