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10 tidbits to know this week: Gophers’ balance, Friars go green and more

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Vin Parise is a former assistant college coach and the college basketball insider for NBC Sports. Look for his Top 10 Tidbits every week. 

1. Kudos to Providence’s Ed Cooley.  He called his Nike rep Sunday night after watching 60 Minutes and had his team in green uniforms and green sneakers against Colgate Tuesday night to honor Newtown, Conn. Cooley plans on framing 26 uniforms to honor the victims.

2. Minnesota wasn’t picked to finish top 5 in the Big Ten.  Tubby Smith’s team is 11-1 and ranked 13th nationally.  Best part: Gophers average 76 ppg as a team and the leading scorer is at 13 ppg.  Seven guys average between 4 and 13 points per outing.  Now that is balance.

3. Texas ranks 10th nationally as a team with 69 blocks on the season.  Chris Obekpa from St. John’s has 58 blocks alone.

4. Loyola (Md.) head coach Jimmy Patsos told me he bought his wife a car for her birthday in the fall — he is really concerned right now that he won’t be able to top that for the holiday season.

5. O.D. Anosike from Siena and Jack Cooley from Notre Dame have snatched the most offensive rebounds so far this season.  More difficult for Cooley however: Irish shoot 50 percent from the floor — Saints shoot 38 percent.

6. Yes, he was a 1st-team All-Big East selection; but people just do not talk enough about Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick.

7. The 6-8 junior college transfer and New Jersey-born David Laury is eligible for Iona Thursday night at LaSalle this week.  Big things are expected from Laury when MAAC play gets into full swing.

8. After a 5-5 start, South Alabama’s 65 year-old Ronnie Arrow is retiring effective immediately.  Associate head coach Jeff Price has been named interim coach.  This was Arrow’s second stint at South Alabama.  He returned in 2007 after leading the Jaguars from 1987-94. Arrow led the program to 3 NCAA tournaments.

9. Last season Fuquan Edwin from Seton Hall led the nation in steals. This year he’s getting it done on the other end.  Edwin ranks 1st in the Big East in 3 point shooting at 54 percent — good for 14th nationally.

10. At SMU, Larry Brown has an associate head coach, two assistant Coaches, one video Coordinator, an executive assistant, a strength coach, an assistant strength coach, a director of administration, a director of player development, a basketball intern, an academic Liason, an athletic trainer and a ‘partridge in a pear tree.’

Vin Parise is the College Basketball Insider for NBC Sports.  You can catch him on NBC Sports Network’s SportsTalk – Mon-Fri. 6 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter @VinParise.

Patience needed for South Carolina fans

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Vin Parise is a former assistant college coach and the college basketball insider for NBC Sports. He’ll post every week in CBT.

When Frank Martin took over Kansas State in 2007, the response from friends in the coaching world was almost always the same. “People didn’t understand it,” Martin said. “Everyone was like, ‘Why would you want to work there? It’s a graveyard for coaches.”

Soon after, he was coaching the Wildcats in the Elite Eight and honored as the Big 12 Coach of the Year.

Five years later, Martin heard the same type of questions as he began the challenge of rebuilding the brand of South Carolina basketball.

The Gamecocks are 5-3 overall but the signs of a tough road ahead in SEC play are evident.  The season started by sneaking past UW-Milwaukee in overtime.  Then there was the loss to Elon.  And most recently, South Carolina lost their last two to St. John’s and Clemson by a combined 33 points.  The Gamecocks are allowing opponents to shoot 46 percent from the floor.  That is not Frank Martin basketball.  Yet if history repeats itself, it shouldn’t stay this way for long.  As Martin stated on his Twitter account last week: “Sorry we didn’t get it done today for you. We will build a program u deserve.”

WATCH THE RACERS PLAY — AND SOON

I don’t know how many 6-foot-1 guards will be drafted in June, but I know one that should.  Isaiah Canaan is as efficient as any point guard in the country.  Canaan and Murray State critics obsess too much about his size and way too much about how legit the Racers are as a ball club. The ridiculous success Murray State attained last year and their weak schedule sometimes overshadowed their point guard’s stature nationally.  Like a leopard, an elite player does not change its spots.  Remember, Jewuan Long and Donte Pool are gone from last year’s dynamic squad — so expecting Murray State to be the last unbeaten in the nation again is of course unrealistic.

But this team is still very good and their leader is noticeably stronger than last season.  Canaan is 8th in the country in scoring at 22.5 points per game, shoots an astounding 49 percent from the floor, shoots 42 percent from deep and 77 percent from the foul line.  And the Racers as a team?  They are 5-1 with wins against St. John’s, Auburn and Old Dominion.

WELCOME MR. MUNFORD

A little over a week ago the world of college basketball was introduced to Rhode Island’s Xavier Munford.  Who was this transfer who led his team to a double overtime victory at Auburn with 33 points?  Dan Hurley was grateful because it was his first win as head coach of the Rhody Rams.  He’s equally grateful for how long he’s known his junior transfer.  Before his time at Iowa Western College and Miami-Dade College, Munford played for Hurley at St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey.  St. Benedict’s went 26-1 Munford’s senior season and were ranked No. 2 in the nation.  Also on that team, was current URI teammate and Rutgers transfer Gilvydas Biruta.

There’s only eight games under his belt, but Munford plays like a seasoned veteran and defends the only way he knows how — the way Hurley taught him years ago.  Munford is averaging 18.9 points per game — tops in the Atlantic 10 — and is shooting 33 percent from 3-point land.  But his impact goes beyond leading the Rams in scoring.  One day soon it looks like we’ll be talking about Dan Hurley’s revival of Rhode Island basketball — and so far the script reads Xavier Munford as the first name fans from the Ocean State will credit.

Vin Parise is the College Basketball Insider for NBC Sports.  You can catch him on NBC Sports Network’s SportsTalk – Mon-Fri. 6 p.m. ET.  Follow him on Twitter @VinParise.

SportsTalk: Things to know as college hoops begins

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The season is here. Finally. Officially. We get to watch some college basketball.

Friday’s filled with interesting games – two of which, No. 4 Ohio State vs. Marquette and Georgetown vs. No. 10 Florida – you can watch on NBC Sports Network tonight starting at 7 p.m. ET. Throw in a matchup between No. 3 Kentucky and Maryland and Michigan State-UConn, and it’s a pretty solid opening night.

You’re primed and ready, right? You’ve read all the preseason content we’ve churned out for the last six weeks (find it here and here) and can’t wait for Friday’s predictions from CBT’s writers, right?

Good. In the meantime, here’s a preview video for those of you tuning in late. Our friends at SportsTalk do a quickie overview of the season, including which teams are overrated.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

CollegeBasketballTalk’s 2012-13 preseason All-Americans

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of The Lists we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

We rarely come to a consensus about anything at CBT. That’s what happens when you have this many writers. But it turns out we all agree on two things: That Cody Zeller and Doug McDermott are first-team All-Americans. It’s the rest of the team that was tougher to select.

So here’s what we did: Six writers sent their choices for first, second and third teams. Then we weighted those ballots to pinpoint which guys got the most mentions. Zeller and McDermott were easy. So were picking Deshaun Thomas and Isaiah Canaan to join them. I figured the final spot would go to either Trey Burke or Aaron Craft, but neither one earned as many first-team votes as Michael Snaer. He rounds out our first team. (Guess he’s not wrong.)

As for the rest? Click here to see all of our selections.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Tennessee, Cal on the verge of huge ’13 classes

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When one looks at school recruiting class rankings, similar college basketball programs pop up every year. With that in mind, it is important to keep an eye on outliers, programs that either jump up for a year or two (an indicator of a head coach or assistant on the rise) and possibly produce a deep tournament squad.

Two teams that look to be on the verge of entering the national top-10 recruiting class rankings, perhaps unexpectedly, are Cal and Tennessee. Both have a strong duo of players already committed, with a potential elite player, or two, in the pipeline.

In the case of Cal, they are set on the perimeter, with two local preps, top-25 national wing Jabari Bird and scorer Jordan Mathews (son of a UCLA assistant coach) already in the fray. Mathews increased his profile rapidly with tremendous play during the summer.

Cal also has a legitimate shot at landing a top-15 national prospect, with another in-state prospect in center Marcus Lee strongly considering the Golden Bears. They will have to beat out another Cal (as in Coach Cal) as Kentucky and Louisville made the final three for Lee. Should Cal get Lee and Bird to go with Mathews, they could have two players in the venerable McDonald’s All American games.

Cal is also in the mix for a top-150 post in Torren Jones, an Arizona-native that played on the circuit with Mathews and Lee on California Supreme. He would be solid consolation prize if Lee heads to the Bluegrass State.

Meanwhile, Tennessee seems to be really getting their recruiting efforts in gear under coach Cuonzo Martin. He only had a short time to assemble his first recruiting class, but outside of Memphis star Jarnell Stokes the second class was also under the radar.

Now, the Volunteers received commitments on Monday from forward AJ Davis and in-state star guard Robert Hubbs. A potential top-15 national prospect, Hubbs ran on an AAU team with Austin Nichols, another possible McDonald’s All American, during the spring and summer circuit.

Nichols and another Memphis big man Johnathan Williams, are both considering the Vols and are among the elite power forward prospects nationally. Through in either post with Hubbs, and the core of an elite class is there, along with a solid forward with NBA bloodlines in Davis.

Tennessee and California haven’t been in national recruiting class rankings as of late, but both are off to great starts in ’13 and are bordering on breakout groups. Don’t be surprised if either class spurs a deep NCAA tournament run while on campus.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.

Non-BCS schools quietly land impact players for ’13

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It’s a common narrative in March for schools and players to come out of “nowhere” and excel on the national stage. That does happen to a certain extent, particularly given the way players develop on different schedules, but certain players choose a spot where they can develop and find success.

The recent flurry of weekend commitments were primarily important for BCS schools, but in extending a lens out to a week or more, some easy to identify difference makers have made their pledge for college basketball outside of major media attention. Some commitments that seem to be future March stars include the following:

  • Murray State is one of the programs du jour lately, and it landed their point guard of the future in Memphis-native Cameron Payne. After playing against some of the top high school basketball leagues in the country, Payne emerged as Murray State’s top target for the all-important lead guard slot. He’s a guy who could emerge after some seasoning as a standout.
  • North Carolina combo forward Tyrone Outlaw garnered more than his share of high major scholarship offers, and was a back-up option for some recognizable programs. Still, he’s a bit undersized to play power forward and doesn’t quite equate to a wing player in college. Outlaw’s overall production cannot be argued, and he’ll star at UNC-Greensboro after committing as their top target. Young head coach Wes Miller has already amassed a few supporting pieces to go with Outlaw.
  • Jack Whitman is a skilled competitor who does not have the ideal strength and frame on his 6-7 height to fill a role at power forward at the high-major level. After impressing against stronger and more athletic players in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, don’t bet against Whitman doing the same in college for William & Mary.
  • Anders Broman is among the best pure shooters in his region (Minnesota) and is taking his game to South Dakota State. Their opponents will be forced to guard him once he passes half court. Also, jet quick, attacking lead guard Jordan Wilson doesn’t have ideal height at 5-8, but it should be fine in the Big Sky, where the SoCal lead guard will be playing at Northern Colorado.
  • Quinnipiac scored a gritty, undersized point guard in Kasim Chandler. He may take some time to physically adjust to college hoops, but the backcourt skills are there. Also in the Northeast, Boston dipped in Florida for shooting guard Cedric Hankerson, who looks to be a multi-year starter for them. Hankerson will have to adjust to the weather, but is an extremely important recruit for Boston.

Kellon Hassenstab runs Hoopniks.com. Follow him on Twitter @hoopniks.