While neutral site games and in-season tournaments can help teams figure out who they are, there’s no test more valuable than having to do so in a hostile environment. No. 19 Arizona played its first road game Saturday afternoon, and despite trailing by as many as 14 points Sean Miller’s team found a way to beat No. 13 Gonzaga 68-63 in Spokane.
And while the Wildcats were much improved offensively in the second stanza, it was their defense and perimeter play that opened the door for a comeback.
Senior guard Gabe York led the way with 14 second-half points while also grabbing six rebounds and dishing out two assists, playing the entire 20 minutes as Arizona made its charge. York scored all 14 of those points during a stretch in which Arizona outscored Gonzaga 22-10, turning a 40-28 deficit into a 50-50 tie with 12:57 remaining. The Wildcats needed someone to step forward offensively to provide a much-needed spark, and he was the one to do so.
Ryan Anderson (11 second-half points) and Allonzo Trier, who was Arizona’s best offensive player in the first half, chipped in as well, with Arizona shooting 50 percent from the field and scoring 20 points in the paint. As opposed to seemingly looking to go “shot for shot” with Gonzaga, Arizona did a better job of getting the shots that worked for them as the second half progressed which resulted in their averaging nearly 1.1 points per possession.
And for those clamoring for the Wildcats to find a “go-t0 guy,” it was York and Anderson who combined for the game-sealing pick and roll with less than 20 seconds remaining. Contrast that with the end of their loss to Providence, which had Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Dusan Ristic doing so in a sequence that resulted in a turnover. Saturday’s finish gets Arizona closer to figuring out that particular role, which will only help them down the line.
But the improved offense would not have meant anything Saturday without better play on the defensive end. Without Kaleb Tarczewski (Przemek Karnowski didn’t play for Gonzaga), who is out with a left foot injury, Arizona had to account for the absence of its best interior defender and that was an issue against Gonzaga’s tandem of Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis.
Wiltjer, who finished with 33 points, and Sabonis (18 points, 16 rebounds), combined to score 32 of Gonzaga’s 38 first half points and to no one’s surprise they were going to be an issue throughout for Anderson, Dusan Ristic and Mark Tollefsen. As a team Gonzaga averaged 0.67 points per possession in the second half, and Wiltjer needed 15 shots to score his 13 second-half points.
So how did Arizona get Gonzaga out of its comfort zone? By making the big men make challenged shots and forcing the guards, most notably Josh Perkins who committed four of his five turnovers in the second half, to make plays. Contrast that with Arizona’s two-headed point guard of Kadeem Allen and Parker Jackson-Cartwright, who combined to commit just one turnover.
The questions surrounding Gonzaga focused on their perimeter play, which is to be expected given just how much they lost from last year’s Elite Eight team. It isn’t easy to replace Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and Byron Wesley, which frankly goes without saying. Young players such as Perkins and Silas Melson will continue to develop for head coach Mark Few as the season wears on.
But on this day Arizona’s guards, led by York, won the matchup and that was a major factor in the final result.
Unlike last season’s team, which returned a lot of experience and had clear role definition almost from the start, this current group of Wildcats is still figuring things out and Saturday’s win doesn’t change that. But it does serve as an important result for a team looking to grow into a group capable of winning a third consecutive Pac-12 title.
The way that college basketball coaches build their rosters has changed in recent years, as the explosion of the transfer market has opened up a new avenue to attract talent into a program. Some may love it and some may hate it, but it’s not going away. Here are the 15 transfers that will have the biggest impact on the 2015-16 season:
THE TOP 15
1. Damion Lee (via Drexel) and Trey Lewis (via Cleveland State), Louisville
At the start of the offseason, Louisville’s top returning scorer was Quentin Snider at 4.1 points per game, and that’s after his scoring average jumped a full point following three straight double-digit outings in the NCAA tournament.
But head coach Rick Pitino tapped into the graduate transfer market and came out with the most-sought after transfer, Damion Lee. Before that he had grabbed a point guard and 3-point shooter in Trey Lewis. Those two fifth-year seniors joined a heralded incoming freshman class that included Donovan Mitchell, Ray Spalding and Deng Adel.
Lee missed almost all of the 2013-14 season with a torn ACL, but recovered to finish fifth in the nation in scoring last season at 21.4 points per game. Lewis will be able to play either guard spot and provides a deep threat, hitting 96 threes (42 percent) in 2014-15.
2. Robert Carter Jr. (via Georgia Tech) and Rasheed Sulaimon (via Duke), Maryland
The Terrapins could very well open up the season as the No. 1 team in the nation. Part of that is Melo Trimble and Jake Layman spurning the NBA for another year in College Park, but another part of that high praise is the transfers who are coming into to fill spots in the starting lineup.
Robert Carter Jr. averaged 11.4 points and 8.4 rebounds for Georgia Tech before transferring to Maryland in 2014. The 6-foot-9 forward, who has reportedly dropped 20 pounds during his redshirt season, will help Maryland with low-post scoring, as will fellow newcomer Diamond Stone.
The Terrapins added a former rival in May, as Rasheed Sulaimon had committed to Maryland as a graduate transfer, giving him immediate eligibility. On paper, it’s a good pickup for the two-guard spot, but this is the same player whose production went in both his sophomore and junior seasons. Mark Turgeon likely isn’t looking for much offensively, he just needs Sulaimon to defend on a nightly basis.
3. Sterling Gibbs (via Seton Hall) and Shonn Miller (via Cornell), UConn
Kevin Ollie had a great spring, picking up two impact transfers for next season. With Ryan Boatright graduating, Gibbs, the ex-Seton Hall lead guard, can slide right into that role of scorer and facilitator. He’s also someone who isn’t afraid to take a big shot. Gibbs will run the show in a talented perimeter of Daniel Hamilton, Rodney Purvis, Sam Cassell Jr. and Jalen Adams. Gibbs averaged 16.3 points, 2.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, shooting 43 percent from three for the Pirates last season.
Joining Gibbs is Shonn Miller, the all-Ivy League forward. The 6-foot-7 stuffed the statsheet, posting averages of 16.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. Matched up with shot-blocker Amida Brimah, the Huskies will have two very good defenders on the frontline.
4. Eron Harris (via West Virginia), Michigan State
Tom Izzo scored big when he landed the former West Virginia guard back in 2014. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 17.2 points per game and shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc for the Mountaineers during the 2013-14 season. Harris joins Denzel Valentine, Bryn Forbes and Tum Tum Nairn on the perimeter for the Spartans.
Although, he’ll have to overcome a rocky start to his career in East Lansing, being suspended for the team’s foreign trip in August.
5. Anton Grady (via Cleveland State) and Conner Frankamp (via Kansas), Wichita State
The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in his final season at Cleveland State. Electing to use his final year of eligibility as a role player to Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet, Grady will offer a different low-post presence, head coach Gregg Marshall said recently. While it’s a different style than his predecessor, Grady helps fill the void left behind by the graduating Darius Carter.
Conner Frankamp, the former Kansas Jayhawk, becomes eligible in the second semester and will offer depth for the Shockers back court.
6. Ryan Anderson (via Boston College) and Mark Tollefsen (via San Francisco), Arizona
Anderson decided to use his final year of eligibility at Arizona after averaging 13.5 points per game through his first three seasons at Boston College. He’ll bring experience to the starting five, sharing the front court with senior Kaleb Tarczewski, the only returning starter. Mark Tollefsen should also provide some contributions in his lone season with the Wildcats. The 6-foot-9 forward shot 38 percent from three for the Dons in 2014-15.
7. Cole Huff (via Nevada) and Mo Watson Jr. (via Boston University), Creighton
Creighton struggled in the first season of the post-Doug McDermott era. It would appear it would only get worse for the Bluejays after graduating five contributors this past spring. However, among all the new pieces are two key transfers in Watson and Huff.
During Creighton’s foreign trip in Italy, the 6-foot-8 Huff led the team with 14.3 points per game. Watson averaged 6.7 assists per game with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4:1
8. Terry Henderson (via West Virginia), NC State
The former Mountaineer guard will attempt to follow the success for previous transfers like Ralston Turner and Trevor Lacey. Henderson will slide into that role this season alongside Cat Barber. In 2013-14, Henderson averaged 11.7 points per game, shooting 38 percent from behind the arc.
9. Kuran Iverson (via Memphis), Rhode Island
The top-30 recruit in the Class of 2013 had an grand exit from Memphis. The versatile 6-foot-9 forward gets a new start at Rhode Island, where he will have the chance to fit in with the Rams’ four returning starters.
10. Ricky Tarrant (via Alabama), Memphis
This has not been an easy offseason for Josh Pastner. But the one bright spot was landing Alabama’s second-leading scorer Ricky Tarrant. The 6-foot-2 guard should be able to provide consistent production the Tigers guards could not do last season.
11. John Egbunu (via South Florida), Florida
The 6-foot-11 center averaged 7.4 points, 6.4 boards and 1.3 blocks per game in his freshman season at South Florida in 2013-14. Egbunu is reportedly down 11 pounds, which will only help in Mike White’s uptempo system.
12. Rafael Maia(via Brown) and Sterling Smith (via Coppin State), Pittsburgh
Through his first three seasons, the 6-foot-9 Brown big man averaged 8.1 boards per game, leading the Ivy League in that category in each season. He can help a Pitt team that ranked tenth in the ACC in defensive rebounding percentage. As for Smith, who averaged 13.9 points per game at Coppin State, he provides depth behind James Robinson and Chris Jones.
13.Tyler Lewis (via NC State), Butler
The former McDonald’s All-American takes over for Butler’s leader the past few season, Alex Barlow. Lewis, who has a career 3:1 assist to turnover ratio, steps into a good spot alongside all-Big East caliber guards Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones. Former St. Bonaventure guard Jordan Gathers joins the Butler back court as a graduate transfer.
14. Seth Allen (via Maryland), Virginia Tech
Allen, who averaged 13.4 points per game as a sophomore, before transferring from Maryland in 2014. He provide a scoring boost alongside Justin Bibbs and will share ball-handling duties with Devin Wilson.
15. Dylan Ennis (via Villanova), Oregon
The fifth-year senior started in all 36 games for the Big East champions, averaging 9.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 28.1 minutes per game. He brings experience to a young back court, which is headlined by five-star recruit Tyler Dorsey.
HERE ARE THE REST OF THE NATION’S IMPACT TRANSFERS
Max Bielfeldt (via Michigan), Indiana: The former conference foe provides experience and depth to a young frontline.
Deonte Burton (via Marquette), and Hallice Cooke (via Oregon State) Iowa State: The former Marquette guard was pegged as a breakout star in 2014-15. After transferring mid-year Burton hopes to become the next successful transfer in Ames. Cooke had a successful freshman campaign at Oregon State, but spent much of last year recovering from a pair of hip surgeries.
Kareem Canty (via Marshall) and Tyler Harris (via Providence), Auburn: Canty was one of the prized transfers in 2014 after averaging 16.3 points per game in his only season at Marshall. This will be Harris’ third school, and he will play in a front court alongside Cinmeon Bowers and freshmen Horace Spencer and Danjel Purifoy.
Tyler Cavanaugh (via Wake Forest), George Washington: The 6-foot-9 Cavanaugh should make an immediate impact in lineup that includes Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald.
Charles Cooke (via James Madison), Dayton: Jordan Siebert graduated and Dyshawn Pierre suspended, the 6-foot-5 guard could play a key role for the A-10 contender.
Nick Faust (via Maryland) and Gabe Levin (via Loyola Marymount), Long Beach State: The 49ers lost all five starters. Faust, who averaged 9.3 points per game at Maryland, Levin, the 2013 WCC Rookie of the Year and Roschon Prince, a former top-100 recruit, are all eligible.
Johnny Hill (via Texas-Arlington), Purdue: This will be the third stop for the 6-foot-3 guard, who attempt to replicate the success Jon Octeus had in his lone season with the Boilermakers.
Khalid Lewis (via La Salle) and Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte), Illinois: The late addition adds of Lewis helps combat Tracy Abrams season-ending injury. The 6-foot-10 Thorne a highly-sought after big man before picking the Illini.
Kamari Murphy (via Oklahoma State), Miami: Versatile big man should have a presence on the defensive end for the Hurricanes.
Sean Obi (via Rice), Duke: The big body post player recorded 11 double-doubles at Rice and was third in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage.
Semi Ojeyele (via Duke), SMU: The former McDonald’s All-American has a chance to make an impact for the Mustangs when he becomes eligible midseason.
Duncan Robinson (via Williams College), Michigan: A healthy Caris LeVert and Zak Irvin will limit his minutes, but the ex-Division III hooper might be Michigan’s top shooter.
Adam Smith (via Virginia Tech), Georgia Tech: The graduate transfer remains in the ACC and brings a deep shooting range to the conference’s worst 3-point shooting team from a season ago.
Andrew White III (via Kansas), Nebraska: White couldn’t find minutes in a crowded Kansas perimeter. The former four-star recruit has a chance to restart his college career playing alongside Shavon Shields.
Tim Williams (via Samford), New Mexico: The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 17.6 points per game in 2013-14.
After averaging 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in three seasons at Boston College 6-foot-9 forward Ryan Anderson made the decision to transfer earlier this spring. Given his production and skill set Anderson was a highly sought-after player, with programs such as Arizona, Iowa State and Indiana looking to land a commitment.
Late Thursday night the Long Beach, Calif. native announced via Twitter that he’ll finish his career at Arizona, with the decision coming during a visit to the school.
Blessed to say that I've committed to Arizona!! BEARDOWN!!! 🐻🏀💯
Anderson will have to sit out the 2014-15 season per NCAA transfer rules, but that may actually work out for the best for both player and Sean Miller’s program. Anderson was expected to miss anywhere from four to six months after undergoing shoulder surgery earlier this spring, and the year in residency will give him the opportunity to get back to full strength for the 2015-16 season.
As for Arizona, with Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski and incoming freshmen Craig Victor and Dusan Ristic at Miller’s disposal interior depth won’t be a concern for the clear favorites to win the Pac-12. But with Ashley and Tarczewski expected to be on the NBA radar after the 2014-15 season (the same can be said for wings Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson), having a player who’s skilled and has Division I experience waiting in the wings will help the Wildcats should they suffer major personnel losses inside.
Anderson played just over 31 minutes per game as a junior, reaching double figures in points in 26 of the Eagles’ 32 games with six double-doubles. He’s essentially the third player committed to Arizona in 2015, with highly regarded prospects Tyler Dorsey and Justin Simon having verbally committed to join the program.
On Monday night, a few hours before UConn and Kentucky played for the National Title, Anderson announced his transfer via Twitter.
“I have decided to transfer from BC. Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last three years. Proud I was able to be an Eagle,” Anderson tweeted.
Anderson averaged 14.3 points and 7.3 boards per game for the Eagles in 2013-2014.
Since the end of the season, reports have surfaced that Anderson along with several other teammates were considering leaving the program. The Boston Globe reported Joe Rahon, a California native like Anderson, was thinking about transferring while Olivier Hanlan, the team’s leading scorer, would test the NBA.
The following evening, Anderson told Jeff Goodman of ESPN that he will look for “the best fit” at his next school. According to Goodman, Anderson will have shoulder surgery, and will have one year remaining after he sits out next season.
I’m not sure there was a more disappointing team in the country that Boston College.
Bringing back most of their key pieces from the 2012-2013 season, the Eagles were expected by many to finish in the top half of the ACC and compete for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. That’s what happens when you have a pair of talents like Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson on your roster.
But the season was a disaster.
Boston College finished 14th out of 15 ACC teams. Entering the first round of the ACC tournament on Wednesday night, the Eagles have all of eight wins on the year. If it wasn’t for their win at Syracuse back in February — that will go down as the season’s single weirdest outcome — the year would go down as a total waste of time.
The bad news doesn’t end there, however.
According to a report from Michael Vega of the Boston Globe, Hanlan, who averaged 18.6 points this season, is considering bolting for the NBA after the season. Per Vega, if Hanlan leaves — and maybe even if he doesn’t — Joe Rahon (9.0 points) and Anderson (14.3 points, 7.1 boards) may be convinced to transfer closer to their California hometowns.
Donahue’s job is already in jeopardy as he heads into the final year of a four-year contract he earned after leading Cornell to the Sweet 16 in 2010. Losing his top three players from a team that won just eight games certainly isn’t the way to keep his job, especially when an already apathetic fan base has reached patheticlevels.
From Nov. 20th thru Dec. 1st, I’ll be on the road, hitting 21 games in 11 days. To follow along and read my stories from the road, click here.
NEW YORK — Deandre Daniels finished with 23 points and Shabazz Napier added 19, 11 of which came in the second half, as No 18 UConn survived upset-minded Boston College 72-70 in the opening round of the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
Daniels scored 15 of his 23 points in the first half to help the Huskies build a lead that reached 11 on a number of occasions, but BC’s stars Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson brought the Eagles back down the stretch. Napier missed a free throw with less than a minute left that gave the Eagles life, but Hanlan missed at the rim on the ensuing possession and Boatright was fouled during the scrum for the rebound. His two free throws put the Huskies up four.
The knock on BC coming into this game was their ability to defend on the perimeter. They had been torched by the likes of UMass, Toledo and Providence, all of whom have quality guards. That also happens to be UConn’s strength with the likes of Napier, Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun. But BC actually held their own. Napier had 20, but it was a quiet 20; he made some big shots down the stretch, but he certainly didn’t dominate the game and he struggled getting to the rim at times. Boatright had just nine points on the night, and combined the duo shot 8-for-26 from the floor.
“They were doubling on the pick and rolls,” Napier said, “and when we penetrated the paint they played great help defense, we weren’t knocking down our shots. ”
The issue for Steve Donahue’s club on this night was on the offensive end of the floor. No one on the UConn can guard Anderson, yet the Eagles couldn’t — or wouldn’t — get him enough touches on the block in the second half. There were multiple possessions where he had Phil Nolan or Amida Brimah sealed and the BC guards simply didn’t give him the ball. He still finished with 22 points, on just eight shots, while going to the line 11 times. That would have been less of an issue if Hanlan went off for 38 points again, but he didn’t. He struggled for most of the first 35 minutes of the game.
“It was not only me and Ryan, the whole team, we had all five guys looking at him,” Napier said of Hanlan.
Hanlan’s a talent, however, and he was at his best in the final minutes. But at this point, BC is really just a two-man show. Anderson and Hanlan combined for 39 of their 68 points, and when going up against a team that is as talented as the Huskies are, that’s not going to cut it, even when they have an off-night.
UConn moves to 5-0 on the season, while BC drops to 1-4.
I can safely say they are the best 1-4 team in the country, and while I still think this group is good enough to win a game or two in the tournament, the hole that they have dug themselves may be too much to work their way out of. The only two relevant games left on their non-conference are VCU on the road and Harvard. Then it’s the ACC schedule, which certainly won’t be easy.
BC will have plenty of chances to build a resume that is strong enough to earn an at-large bid, but November’s not yet over and they are already to a point where their margin of error is very slim.
“All these failures are going to make us tougher, stronger,” said Donahue. “We have to stay the course. I think we’re going to be a good basketball team.”
If the Eagles want to avoid being forced into having to win the ACC’s automatic bid, they’re going to have to turn their season around in a hurry.