Pregame Shootaround 12.14.12: Charlotte, LSU look to remain undefeated

Leave a comment

Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will lay out a preview for the slate of games that night. We’ll take a look at some key match-ups and important games, as well as make some predictions and point out what you need to watch for. Take a look below at today’s edition:

Note: The weekend editions of Pregame Shootaround will be published half an hour prior to tip-off of the day’s first game.

Game of the Day: Charlotte at Miami (FL) (7 PM) 

Alan Major’s 49ers are a surprising 9-0 on the season, and they’ll encounter what could be their stiffest test to date as they take on the Hurricanes in Coral Gables. Senior forward Chris Braswell (14.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg) leads the way offensively for Charlotte and he’s one of just two (DeMario Mayfield) double figure scorers for this balanced group, as five other players are currently averaging between 7.0 and 9.7 points per game. Charlotte also has one of the best perimeter defenders around in Pierria Henry, who will undoubtedly be asked to slow down Shane Larkin at the point.

Miami has five players averaging double figures and guards Shane Larkin, Trey McKinney-Jones and Durand Scott can cause headaches for the opposition. But a key figure for Miami tonight may be Kenny Kadji, who when at his best combines with Reggie Johnson to make the Hurricanes tough to deal with inside. But if he’s not fully engaged in the action then there’s trouble.

Game of the Day, Part Deux: LSU at Boise State (9 PM)

Johnny Jones’ Tigers also enter Friday’s action undefeated but LSU must not overlook Boise State. Derrick Marks scored a career-high 35 points (28 in the second half) to lead the Broncos to an emphatic upset win at then-No. 11 Creighton a couple weeks ago, and with players such as Anthony Drmic and Mikey Thompson at Leon Rice’s disposal as well this is a dangerous game for LSU. Junior Shavon Coleman (15.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg) has proven to be one of the SEC’s best newcomers to this point in the season, and he’ll need to continue that if LSU is to win what is their first road game of the season.

Four Things to Watch

1) UCF visits Old Dominion in what’s a homecoming game of sorts for forward Tristan Spurlock (12.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg). But the star to watch is Keith Clanton, who dropped 30 and 13 on Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday night. And given the Monarchs’ (1-8) struggles, both Spurlock and Clanton could be in for big nights in Norfolk.

2) Army looks to remain undefeated at home tonight as they host Maine, who is 1-5 on the road this season. Senior forward Ella Ellis doesn’t get the pub that Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum or Bucknell’s Mike Muscala receive, but he’s a player who ranks among the best in the Patriot League with averages of 19.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

3) Ole Miss looks to rebound from its first loss of the season as East Tennessee State visits the “Tad Pad.” Murphy Holloway is the SEC’s leading rebounder (10.1 rpg), and in Marshall Henderson the Rebels have a guard capable of lighting it up at a moment’s notice.

4) Cal Poly (Eastern New Mexico) and Portland (Portland Bible College) both take on non-Division I members, and the Friday schedule features just seven games. Both should win comfortably, but after Anderson College beat College of Charleston last night you never know.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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.