12/13 – College Hoops Week in Review: Missouri is team excitement

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Game of the Week: Missouri 85, Vanderbilt 82 OT

The Tigers play one of the most exciting brands of basketball in the country. It’s only fitting that seemingly every time they are on TV, they play a barnburner. Just one week removed from a heartbreaking overtime loss to Georgetown, the Tigers welcomed Vanderbilt into Mizzou Arena on Wednesday.

And Wednesday ended up being all about Marcus Denmon. As we wrote about on Thursday, Denmon’s cousin was shot last Friday and passed away on Tuesday afteroon. Playing with a heavy heart, Denmon struggled through tears and finished the first half with two points on 1-6 shooting. In the second half, however, Denmon caught fire. He sparked an 11-4 Tiger run that gave Mizzou a 59-58 lead after Vandy opened their biggest lead of the game.

The teams would trade baskets the rest of the way, with Ricardo Ratliffe hitting one of two free throws with seven seconds left to force overtime. In the extra period, Vandy jumped out to an early lead before Denmon drilled a contested, 25 footer that put the Tigers back ahead. Vandy retook the lead before Michael Dixon scored with 34 seconds left to tie the game at 82. Then this happened:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUPqMpUtzZ0]

Denmon stole a Brad Tinsely pass and went the other way for an and-one layup with 5.8 seconds left. Tinsely would miss a three at the buzzer that would have tied it.

Stats of the Weird: There weren’t a lot great games this past week. In fact, I found myself saying “well, that was pretty anticlimatic” a lot more than “Holy Jeez, what a freakin’ finish!!!” In honor of college basketball’s weird week, we give to you some of the weirdest numbers pulled from a box score.

  • Marshall Moses: For the second time this season, a player had a perfect game when taking more than 11 field goals. This time is was Oklahoma State forward Marshall Moses, who went 12-12 from the field, hitting his only three pointer, in a 71-54 win over Tulsa. He was 6-7 from the free throw line, missing his last free throw attempt with 8:39 left. Apparently, Moses doesn’t care much about perfect basketball games. The three he hit? It came with 1:55 left in the game. Moses, a senior, hadn’t attempted a three since his sophomore season (he went 0-2). He hadn’t made one since he was a freshman (2-6).
  • Syracuse obliterates Colgate: This one was ugly. The Orange jumped out to leads of 12-0 and 34-4 before taking a 46-8 lead into the half. The Orange went up 60 (81-21) and took their biggest lead at 94-31. 17 players saw action for the Orange. With the win, Syracuse moved from 18th to 10th in Kenpom’s rankings. Their offensive efficiency went from 26th to 22nd. Their defensive efficiency? 26th to 12th.
  • Hartford Hawks: On Wednesday night, Hartford was on the wrong end of the best comeback of the season. Sacred Heart, down 51-31 with just 8:17 left on the clock, went on a 25-4 run to end the game. The clincher? Hartford turned the ball over with three seconds left, then intentionally fouled Stan Dulaire with 0.2 seconds left as he was streaking in for a layup. Dulaire hit one of two. Game over.Saturday’s loss may have been even worse. Hartford held Monmouth scoreless for the first 12:25 of the game. Hartford was up 15-0 at that point Monmouth didn’t hit a field goal until the 5:38 mark of the first half, which cut the lead to 20-5. At the half, Monmouth was just 5-28 from the field, but they only trailed 30-17. In the second half, Monmouth caught fire, eventually tying the game at 44 with 8:35 left. The game would go two overtimes, and in the second OT, Monmouth took control, winning 78-74. So Hartford lost two games this week. One, they lead 51-31 with 8:17 left. The other, they held a team scoreless for the first 12:25 of the game. Yuck.
  • Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels opened up a 22-13 lead on Minnesota with 6:51 left in the first half on Saturday afternoon on a three from Justin Stommes. That would be the last bit of scoring EKU did for a long time. The Gophers would score 12 straight points to take a 25-22 lead, and after Stommes hit a three with six seconds left to tie the game at 25, Maverick Ahanmisi hit a half court buzzer beater to put the Gophers ahead 28-25 at the break. It the second half, Minnesota’s defense clamped down even tighter. EKU didn’t score until a dunk from Stommes with 10:06 left in the half.Minnesota, by then, had opened up a 43-25 with a 30-3 run over the span of 17 minutes. That also included a stretch of over five minutes where Minnesota didn’t score. A Devoe Joseph three put the Gophers ahead 39-25 with 15:47 left in the game, and it wasn’t until Colton Iverson scored off of an offensive rebound with 10:37 left that the scoreboard changed.

Player of the Week: Ramone Moore, Temple

Moore may very well be the most important player on the Temple roster. Juan Fernandez is a capable point guard and facilitator, but he’s not a big time creator. Neither is Lavoy Allen, a big man with the tools to dominate but the aggressiveness of a housecat. That leaves Moore, an athletic 6’4″ off-guard that has becomes Temple’s go-to guy early in the season. Coming off of a 16 point performance in a de facto road game against Maryland, Moore exploded for 30 points against Georgetown in Philly. He was slashing to the rim, he was getting out in transition, and he was turning Temple’s defense into points. The Owls need a go-to scorer if the are going to live up to their expectations of being the A-10’s best team. Moore should be that guy.

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

  • G: Charles Jenkins, Hofstra: The Pride only went 1-1 this week, but it was hardly Jenkin’s fault. He averaged 36.0 ppg in two games, scoring 40 (31 in the second half) in an overtime win over Binghamton.
  • G: Scott Christopherson, Iowa State: Christopherson has led the way for the Cyclones surprising 8-2 start. He’s averaging 16.5 ppg on the season and put up 19.7 ppg in a 3-0 week. It was headlined by a 30 points performance against Iowa.
  • F: Marshon Brooks, Providence: Providence lost to BC by two this week, but the Friars won their other two games, improving to 10-2 on the season. In those three games, Brooks averaged 31.3 ppg and 8.7 rpg.
  • F: Scotty Hopson, Tennessee: Hopson had 27 points in a dominating win for Tennessee over Pitt.
  • C: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: Sully had 40 points and 13 boards, shooting 12-17 from the field and 16-23 from the line against Oakland on Wednedsay. Ohio State scored 75 points as a team in their 11 point win.
  • Bench: Bruce Ellington, South Carolina; Kenny Lawson, Creighton; Marshall Moses, Oklahoma State; Demetri McCamey, Illinois; Marcus Denmon, Missouri; Rick Jackson, Syracuse

Co-Teams of the Week: The Syracuse Orange and the Tennessee Volunteers

Michigan State is reeling right now. This is not the team that we expected to see this season, and this is likely not the same team that we will see come March. That said, Syracuse still manhandled the Spartans. They dominated the Spartans in the paint, led by 17 points and 16 boards from Rick Jackson, and completely took Michigan State out of what they wanted to do offensively. Syracuse is far from a finished product and still has a number of worrisome red flags — like, for example, how much they struggle shooting from the perimeter and whether or not Scoop Jardine or Kris Joseph will become a star. But one thing that is certain is that the Orange are just as good on the defensive end as they were last season. Just ask Colgate.

The question of whether or not Syracuse is the best team in the Big East is one that must be asked now. Why? Because on Saturday, Tennessee finished their sweep of the Big East’s preseason favorites by absolutely dominating Pitt in what was essentially a road game. Tennessee was up 61-40 at one point. Melvin Goins shut down Ashton Gibbs, Scotty Hopson played like a lottery pick, and the Vols competed with the Panthers formidable front line by outrebounding Pitt. Just how good can Tennessee be this year? Well, its safe to say at this point that they are likely the best team in the SEC, and with impressive wins over Pitt and Villanova, this group should move into the top five this week.

Teams deserving a shout out:

  • South Carolina: Believe it or not, the Gamecocks appear to be the best team in the state of South Carolina. That wasn’t exactly expected with Devan Downey graduating and Wofford and Clemson fielding tournament caliber teams. But Bruce Ellington, a freshman point guard for Darrin Horn’s club, has been terrific early in the season, averaging 13.9 ppg and 4.1 apg while shooting 44.4% from the floor is Downey’s stead. South Carolina is now 7-1 on the season.
  • Texas A&M: The Aggies are putting together a nice tournament resume here in the non-conference season. They had already beaten Temple before knocking off Washington at home on Saturday afternoon. The Aggies, who are known for their defensive effort, have a balanced attack on the offensive end. Khris Middleton is their leading scorer at 14.0 ppg, but after him, five of the other seven Aggies in Mark Turgeon’s rotation average between 7.0 ppg and 10.9 ppg.
  • Boston College: The Eagles have continued to play great basketball. After knocking off Providence on Tuesday, the Eagles kicked off conference play by stealing a road game against Maryland. They knocked down 13 3’s, including one from Corey Raji with 34 seconds left to break a 75-all tie.
  • The Atlantic 10: We’ve questioned the A-10 this season quite a bit in this space, but when credit is due, it must be given. The league has shown signs of life in the last week. There was Temple’s win over Georgetown, Richmond beating both Arizona State (last Sunday, but still) and VCU, Xavier knocked off Butler, and even Dayton (74-71 to Old Dominion) and Duquesne (64-61 to West Virginia) had competitive losses. This league isn’t as good as it was last season — mainly because they don’t have a team like Xavier that is a national power — but it appears as if it will get multiple bids again this year.

Steve Lavin clearly has something going at St. John’s. You cannot recruit the was he has recruited and not has a promising future. But that future certainly isn’t now, not after the Johnnies lost to St. Bonaventure at home then went to Fordham and blew a 21 point second half lead. I had high hopes for this squad. They are an experienced bunch that plays as hard as anyone in the country, but experience is only worth something if you’ve experienced winning. If you haven’t, it could end up being a negative.

The Johnnies are the only hyped preseason team to stumble out of the gates. Gonzaga, a preseason top 15 team that was picked by Adrian Branch to be the national champ this season, is not 4-4 on the year after an embarrassing loss to Washington State was followed up by a loss to Notre Dame. There are a multitude of issues with this team, but they all stem from one thing — losing Matt Bouldin. There is no leader on the Zags right now. They have no offensive facilitator. When they are struggling, they have no one that is going to demand the ball and will a quality shot out of their next possession. They don’t have someone that can go one-on-one at the end of the clock and create a shot for someone, be it himself or a teammate. Steven Gray is a slasher and a scorer, but he’s not a leader. Demetri Goodson simply isn’t that good. And Elias Harris is still working his way back from an achilles injury.

Speaking of Washington State, is it possible that they are the best team in the Pac-10 right now? Well, probably not. I’m not going to read into Washington’s loss at Texas A&M too much — on the road, by one point, good team — and once Lorenzo Romar realizes that he team is at their best when he reins in (or sits) Isaiah Thomas, Washington will win games.

But that shouldn’t take away from the start that Wazzu has had. If anything, they look like the Pac-10’s best chance at getting a second team into the tournament. Klay Thompson and Faisal Aden are as dangerous of a perimeter duo as you will find out west, Reggie Moore is finally back from injury, and DeAngelo Casto anchors an underrated front line. That said, their rise up the Pac-10 ladder has as much to do with the rest of the league’s struggles as their own successes. Arizona got drilled by BYU on Saturday. Cal lost at home to Southern Miss. USC’s win over Texas doesn’t over shadow losses to TCU, Bradley, or Rider.

Matchups of the Week: Its finals week at many schools across the country, so the pickins are slim until the weekend.

  • 12/18 – 2:00 pm: South Carolina @ Ohio State
  • 12/18 – 2:00 pm: Arkansas vs. Texas A&M
  • 12/18 – 2:00 pm: Cleveland State @ West Virginia
  • 12/18 – 3:30 pm: Kansas State vs. Florida
  • 12/18 – 4:00 pm: Texas vs. UNC
  • 12/18 – 4:30 pm: Gonzaga vs. Baylor
  • 12/18 – 5:00 pm: Richmond vs. Georgia Tech
  • 12/18 – 8:00 pm: Virginia Tech vs. Mississippi State
  • 12/18 – 11:00 pm: Florida State @ Loyola Marymount
  • 12/19 – 4:45 pm: Arizona @ NC State

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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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
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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

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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

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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

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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.