11/29 – College Hoops Week in Review: The A-10’s struggles and the Big East’s success

Leave a comment

Game of the Week: Xavier 94, Wofford 90 3OT

This was far from the only exciting overtime game this week (and it wasn’t even the longest — Skidmore and Southern Vermont dueled for seven overtimes), but this was probably the best. Xavier was up 44-33 in the second half, but a 25-6 Terrier run left the Muskies down 58-50 with just 4:23 left on the clock, Chris Mack called a timeout and challenged his team. “I thought our kids in the huddle challenged one another, took the challenge from the coaching staff, and were able to put consecutive stops out on the defensive side of the floor to eventually get us back in the game,” Mack said.

It worked. Xavier got the stops they needed, using a 12-4 push to force OT. After an exciting back and forth that featured missed free throws and clutch buckets by both teams, the Terriers found themselves up three on the final possession. Wofford fouled Xavier’s Dante Jackson with 2.2 seconds left on the clock. Jackson made the first, missed the second, and this happened:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDVg7ymbaZw&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3]

In the second overtime, Xavier jumped out to a four point lead, but a basket and a three gave Wofford the lead back. After trading buckets — and after both teams made 1-2 free throws, the game was tied and Wofford had the ball. Cameron Rundles hit a jumper at the buzzer, but as you can see here, the shot came after the buzzer, forcing a third overtime:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhFkmV9qB0g&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3]

In the third overtime, Wofford scored to tie it up with just over 40 seconds left, but a Tu Holloway floater with 9.7 seconds left gave Xavier the lead. They would get a stop and hit two free throws for the win.

The win was another escape by a Xavier team that has struggled so far thus season. The biggest issue right now appears to be depth. All of Xavier’s starters logged at least 40 minutes and the Muskies only got three points from their bench. But, hey, a win is a win, and Xavier improves to 5-1 on the season.

The other good games:

  • BYU had a couple of exciting finishes. Against South Florida, the Cougars needed two overtimes before this buzzer beater by Noah Hartsock won the game:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpBEqipdiU4&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3]

  • BYU also took on St. Mary’s in a game that had another terrific finish. It was this dagger with just 10.26 seconds (I have no idea why the clock went to hundreths of a second) from Jimmer Fredette that won it for the Cougars:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqfbJeSYpqY&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3]

  • Butler led by as much as nine points in the second half against Evansville, but the Purple Aces made a 22-8 run to take a 58-53 lead with just over three minutes left. Butler rallied, tying the game on two Zach Hahn free throws with eight seconds left. In overtime, Denver Holmes hit 1 three with 17.7 seconds left before fouling Shelvin Mack on a three with seven seconds on the clock. Mack missed the second free throw, then missed the third intentionally. After an Evansville free throw, Mack missed a game-tying three pointer for a 71-68 loss.
  • Trey Thompkins tipped in a missed shot with 10.4 seconds left to force the first overtime, then Ben Hansbrough his 1-2 free throws with 4.7 seconds left to force the second overtime. In the second extra frame, Tim Abromaitis and Eric Atkins both hit big jumpers for an 89-83 win.
  • Texas State was down 31 points to Our Lady of the Lake with 8:31 left in the game, but used a 44-13 run to tie the game at 108. In the extra frame OLotL hit a three on their final possession for a 127-126 upset.
  • South Carolina needed a three with 20.7 seconds left to force over time, then a short jumper from Sam Muldrow to force a second OT. In the second extra frame, South Carolina took a two point lead with 4.4 seconds left and Western Kentucky was unable to get shot off and the Gamecocks won 87-85.
  • Boston College went up 66-62 with a minute left in the game, but after a BJ Holmes three and a free throw, the Eagles were up just 67-65. Dash Harris had a layup at the buzzer rim out.
  • Weber State was on opposite ends of great games this weekend. On Friday, after a Damian Lillard jumper gave them a 58-57 lead, Trent Lockett of Arizona State won the game with a jumper of his own the seven seconds left. On Saturday, we had the weirdest finish of the week. Lillard was called for a charge with 5.7 seconds down 81-80, but a Drake player spiked the ball. He was called for a technical, and Lillard hit both free throws for the win.

Player of the Week: Kemba Walker, UConn

This one was easy. Walker scored 29 points in the second half to lead the Huskies to a win over Wichita State, scored 30 in an upset of then No. 2 Michigan State, and went for 29 in UConn’s win over then No. 9 Kentucky in the Maui finals. He also averaged 4.0 apg and 2.7 spg while shooting 28-52 (53.8%) from the floor, 26-28 (92.9%) from the line, and 8-19 (42.5%) from three. All in all, I think Walker had a pretty good week.

The All-they-were-good-too team:

  • G: Kevin Anderson, Richmond: Anderson averaged 18.0 ppg on the week, but it was his 28 point performance in the Spider’s upset of Purdue on Saturday that earned him a spot on this list.
  • G: Jimmer Fredette, BYU: Fredette led the Cougars to a 3-0 week, averaging 24.0 ppg, 4.7 apg, and 3.0 spg, which included a number of crucial baskets in two close BYU wins.
  • F: Kris Joseph, Syracuse: Joseph shook off some early season struggles. He scored 22 points in a win over Michigan, then went for 16 second half points, finishing with 19, as the Orange beat Georgia Tech in the finals of the Legends Classic.
  • F: Terrence Jones, Kentucky: Kentucky went 2-1 in the Maui, but after their disastrous performance against UConn, some fans left unsatisfied. Jones, however, was terrific, averaging 23.0 ppg, 11.3 rpg, and 3.3 bpg for the tournament.
  • C: Keith Wright, Harvard: Wright averaged 21.5 ppg, 9.5 ppg, 3.5 apg, 3.0 bpg in a 2-0 week. Harvard knocked off Colorado this week.
  • Bench: CJ McCollum, Lehigh; Chace Stanback, UNLV; Adrian Oliver, SJSU; Kenneth Faried, Morehead State; Jamie Skeen, VCU

Team of the Week: UNLV Runnin’ Rebels

After last season ended, the talk of the MWC was BYU and Jimmer Fredette. Early in the season, the toast of the league has been San Diego State after the Aztecs went into Spokane and beat Gonzaga. And, of course, there was the obligatory “wait until New Mexico gets Drew Gordon” references. UNLV, on the other hand, started the season out without star Tre’Von Willis and was, for the most part, the afterthought when discussing four potential bids for the conference.

But UNLV has put those thoughts on hold. Heading into the 76 Classic in Anaheim coming off of a 68-65 win over Wisconsin, the Rebels had a ton of confidence, and that roll continued with their impressive showing out west. UNLV knocked off Tulsa, Murray State, and Virginia Tech en route to the tournament title. More impressive, they did it with Willis looking slow and out of shape. There are few teams in the country as fu to watch as UNLV. They play with essentially four guards (Chace Stanback gets the majority of his minutes as a power forward) and press for 40 minutes. At every spot on the perimeter, they have athletes that can shoot, penetrate, and pass the ball. This club understands what they want to do on each offensive possession. This could very well be the best team in the MWC, which is saying quite a bit.

The Atlantic 10 could be in trouble this season. We already noted Xavier’s troubles early in the season. Temple, the only ranked team in the Old Spice Classic, ended up losing two of their three games, and not in impressive fashion either. They were dropped by Cal in a game the Owls looked largely uninterested in, then they proceeded to lose to a Texas A&M team that lost to Boston College who lost to Yale. Ok, that doesn’t mean much, but a 1-2 performance in a tournament with a field that was largely mediocre is not a good sign for a team that was expected to be the best in the Atlantic 10.

And then there is Dayton. If we had an award for worst team of the week, that would go to the Flyers. Dayton lost to Cincinnati 68-34, and it wasn’t even that close. At one point in the second half, the score was 56-19. This is the same Cincinnati team that will likely finish well done in the bottom half of the Big East. Charlotte, URI, and St. Louis have all looked unimpressive as well.

If there is any saving grace, its that Richmond went into Chicago and knocked off Purdue. But that same Richmond team also has a double overtime loss to Iona on their resume this season. So there’s that.

While the A-10 struggles, the Big East looks like they may have been slept on this season. Seven teams in the conference either won or made the finals of their respective early season tournament:

  • UConn beat Wichita State and upset Michigan State and Kentucky to win the Maui Invitational.
  • Syracuse beat Michigan and Georgia Tech to win the Legends Classic.
  • Notre Dame notched wins over Georgia, Cal, and Wisconsin to with the Old Spice Classic.
  • St. John’s beat Arizona State in the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout.
  • Pitt won the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic by beating Maryland and Texas in NYC.
  • Georgetown won the Charleston Classic with a win over NC State in the finals.
  • Villanova lost to Tennessee in the finals of the Preseason NIT.
  • West Virginia beat Vanderbilt in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off before losing to Minnesota in the finals.

Everyone know about Pitt and Villanova coming into the season. Everyone expected good things from Georgetown, Syracuse, and West Virginia. But with Louisville’s impressive start, UConn and Notre Dame’s big tournament wins, and Marquette, Seton Hall, and St. John’s still waiting in the wings, the Big East looks like they will once again have a deep conference with quite a few tournament teams.

The Old Spice Classic managed to set records on back-to-back days for offensive futility. On Thursday, Wisconsin and Manhattan slogged their way to a 17-10 score at the half. The 27 points were the fewest ever scored in the first half since the advent of the shot clock. The previous record came on January 8th, 2003, when Ole Miss took a 15-13 lead into the break against South Carolina. It got worse the next night, as Notre Dame took a 21-5 lead into the half against Cal. The Bears, who came one point away from the record for the worse half in the shot-clock era (Savannah State scored four points in the second half against Kansas State), were 2-25 from the field and didn’t score a point for the last 10:44 of the half. They had twice as many turnovers (11) as points (5), and more than four times as many fouls (9) as field goals (2).

Interestingly enough, its not even the D-I record. North Carolina Central took a 13-5 lead at the break against (guess who!) Savannah State last year. But since NCCU was still a D-I provisional last season, the record isn’t officially the “record”, which may actually be a positive. That game ended up going to overtime tied at 34, which may also set a record for free basketball that least the number of people wanted to see.

Other Notes from the week that was:

  • Butler is a long way from where they were last season. Evansville is a bottom feeder in the Missouri Valley, and they went into Hinkle Field house and beat the Bulldogs. That is not a good sign, and not having Ronald Nored is not an excuse.
  • I saw Harvard play earlier this year. They were thoroughly beaten by a thoroughly mediocre George Mason team. Colorado just lost to the Crimson by 16 points, dropping the “sleeper” Buffaloes to 2-3 on the season. The worst part? Harvard’s best player (Kyle Casey) played 13 minutes off the bench as he tries to come back from a broken bone in his foot.
  • Duke really is that good. Like, seriously. (Post coming on this.)
  • The Pac-10 will get, at best, two teams into the NCAA Tournament. That I am sure of. Well, for now. Washington will be fine once they determine who their late-game scorer is. Arizona, and Derrick Williams, had an impressive showing against Kansas. But Cal? All that good will from beating New Mexico and Temple went out the window with their five point first half performance against Notre Dame and their 22 point whooping at the hands of Boston College. Arizona State? They were manhandled in the paint by Justin Brownlee of Saturday night in the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout. And UCLA? I saw them twice this weekend in NYC. They don’t have the defense or the point guard to be a tournament team.

Matchups of the Week:

  • The ACC/Big Ten Challenge (see here) headlines the week
  • 11/30 – 9:00 pm: Georgetown vs. Missouri
  • 12/1 – 8:05 pm: BYU @ Creighton
  • 12/1 – 10:30 pm: St. Mary’s @ San Diego State
  • 12/2 – 7:00 pm: Arizona State @ Baylor
  • 12/2 – 9:00 pm: UCLA @ Kansas
  • 12/3 – 7:30 pm: St. Joe’s @ Villanova
  • 12/3 – 11:00 pm: Kansas State @ Washington State
  • 12/4 – 12:00 pm: Utah State @ Georgetown
  • 12/4 – 12:30 pm: Kentucky @ UNC
  • 12/4 – 3:15 pm: Butler vs. Duke in New Jersey
  • 12/4 – 5:15 pm: NC State @ Syracuse
  • 12/4 – 5:15 pm: Illinois @ Gonzaga
  • 12/4 – 10:05 pm: Wichita State @ San Diego State
  • 12/5 – 2:00 pm: Richmond @ Arizona State
  • 12/5 – 8:00 pm: Temple @ Maryland

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
7 Comments

LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

Getty Images
4 Comments

The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.