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The Morning Mix

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This week has been relatively light on hardwood action. There were only a small sampling of solid games on last night, and even fewer tonight. That being said, the flow of news and information has been as steady as ever, and with the unearthing of a bizarre idea to hold four college basketball games at the same time at “Jerry World”, well, we’ve got a lot to get to before the weekend gets here.

Lets hit the links.
 
Friday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Harvard @ Connecticut
8:00 p.m. – Iowa State @ Iowa
9:00 p.m. – Virginia Commonwealth @ Old Dominion (NBC Sports Network)
 
 
Read of the Day:
Seth Davis’ Hoop Thoughts. Not exactly on the same level as Luke Winn’s Power Rankings. But then again, not very many columns are. Just read it, OK? (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Tweet of the Day:

Nothing says Grant Gibbs like 10 assists, 1 TO, and one scrum where he jumps in a pile and comes out with a loose ball. – @RobDauster

Tweet of the Day:

So this is likely to pick up steam here in the coming days…North Forest beat Lee 76-0 in girls basketball on Wednesday…. – @Ahverdejo

 
 
Top Stories:
Late Night Snacks: There were not a bunch of great games on the tube last night. However, Xavier and Vanderbilt put on a spirited battle at the Cintas Center that extended into free basketball, plus Nebraska and Creighton met up and threw down in a non-conference rivalry game.

Mark Hollis has the right idea, but it needs some tweaks: The Michigan State athletic director wants to stage four college basketball games at once at Cowboys Stadium. There are a list of reasons why four games at once doesn’t and won’t work, but the concept itself isn’t that bad.

Christmas lights synced up to Christian Watford’s buzzer beater: Yup. It’s exactly what you think it is. Christmas lights synced up to Christian Watford’s buzzer beater. Priceless.

Pac-12 isn’t very good, but will get two NCAA tournament bids: For what seems like the tenth consecutive year, Pac-12 teams are struggling to meet expectations as a whole. That being said, Arizona and Colorado both appear to be penciled in to the NCAA tournament.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Two former-Detroit coaches claim they were wrongfully terminated in an effort by the university “to cover up the misconduct of others in the athletic department. (USA Today)

– Murray State basketball player Zay Jackson was indicted by a  grand jury yesterday on two charges related to a Sept. 9 incident in which he allegedly struck two people with his car. (WPDS Local)

– Creighton’s Josh Jones was hospitalized prior to last night’s game against Nebraska because he collapsed during pregame warm-ups. The guard had undergone heart surgery in 2007. (Detroit Free-Press)

– Highly touted Providence freshman Kris Dunn is expected to make his college debut before Christmas. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Fairfield head coach Sidney Johnson has agreed to an extension until 2019. (Big Apple Buckets)

– The status of UNLV forward Mike Moser remains day-to-day after MRI results on his injured hip came back negative. (Las Vegas Sun)

– Monmouth head coach King Rice has been issued a one game suspension by the university for his actions and comments critical of the officials during the Hawks game against Navy. (Press & Sun-Bulletin)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– This is good news for us basketball traditionalists: Final Four likely to return to arena venues within five years (SNY.tv)

– The new Big East television deal might actually be worth $40-million less than what the conference originally thought. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

– I love this take from Jeff Eisenberg. He agrees that Kevin Ollie has done a great job, but wants to see more before the university commits to him long-term. (The Dagger)

– The great Ken Pomeroy explains why a team’s 3-point defense should not be defined by their opponent’s 3-point percentage. (KenPom Blog)

– A great read on the continued development of Charleston’s Adjehi Baru. Baru has an interesting back story and was a steal for Charleston. Now in his second year, the big man is making great strides to live up to the hype. (King Kresse)

– Michigan’s Trey Burke reminds ESPN recruiting expert Raggie Rankin of Chris Paul. (ESPN)

– Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is not a fan of conference realignment, in case you didn’t already know. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Many of the top recruiting experts in the country expect Jabari Parker, the top recruit in the nation, to choose Duke. (EPSN)

– Glenn Logan explains why point guard play isn’t the reason Kentucky is struggling, despite the popular opinion that it is in fact the issue. (A Sea of Blue)

– With early season success from Illinois-Chicago and Loyola (Ill.), it looks like Horizon League hoops is returning to relevancy in Chi-Town. (The Horizon League)
 
 
Lists & Rankings:
– John Gasaway does a brilliant job breaking down the top-25 best freshman in college hoops thus far. My only complaint is that Marcus Smart should be a bit higher than just No. 14. (ESPN Insider)

– An excellent breakdown of the best mid-major players in the month of November. (Mid-Major Madness)

– Jeff Goodman’s Good N’ Plenty column doesn’t have a lot of direction to it, but it’s a weekly must-read because of the information it provides. (Eye on College Basketball)

– The best and worst of the month from Big East newcomers. (Rush The Court)

– This is bound to create a small midwest frenzy: 10 reasons why Marquette has “Badger Envy” (Madtown Badgers)

– A mid-major power rankings update from Myron Medcalf. (ESPN)
 
 
Odds & Ends
– Sir Charles and Dickie-V calling games together? It could happen. (Awful Announcing)

– An excellent read on the common misconception that everyone who wears BYU gear is Mormon. (Vanquish the Foe)

– A solid Q&A with UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad, who still sees big things ahead for the Bruins. (Sports Radio Interviews)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Detroit held a “Star Wars” night on Wednesday against Toledo. This is, in short, the single greatest promotional event in the history of collegiate athletics. #Fact. #LandoFTW. (Detroit Titans Athletics)
 
source:
 
 
Dunk of the Day:
This may the only time all season I get to reference the very athletic conference I played in at college. Widener and Albright representin’ The MAC! #D3MACtion. (That’s Mid-Atlantic Conference to you non D-III folks). Watch the fan reactions. Classic.
 
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPScCwZaveQ]
Fun fact about Albright College. In 2009, the Lions were fortunate enough to have the freshman/senior brother combination of Phil and Derek Hall. Phil, the senior, was 6-foot-11. Derek, the freshman, was 6-foot-10. Tell me the last time you saw that at the mid-major D-III level? Answer: NEVER.
 
Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or wanted something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

Under Armour Elite 24 features some must-see stars

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The newly re-branded Elite 24 all-star game tips at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday (ESPNU) and is sponsored by Under Armour, having taken the game’s reins from Boost Mobile. The contest is unique in that August is usually a quiet month for high school stars, having been put through a grueling July evaluation period. The first year of Under Armour at the helm of the game is notable for a great crop of incoming senior and underclass stars, as well as NBA player coaching staffs.

The game has been a high-flying, dunk-filled affair in the past, and this year’s edition is expected to be no different, despite the late scratch from the game of Baltimore star Aquille Carr, due to his recent arrest. As always, with a game featuring young players on national television, defense will be at a minimum. This event is also a measuring stick for selection to the McDonald’s All-American game, as it should be accessible for all voters to view.

The Raymond Lewis team, coached by young NBA stars Brandon Jennings and Derrick Williams, has a devastating quartet from Texas as its headline players. With three of the top five seniors in guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison and power forward Julius Randle, as well as elite junior point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, Jennings has some terrific Lone Star State talent at his disposal. Keep an eye on glue guy Rondae Jefferson, and another high-flying Texas forward Justise Winslow. Also, expect hometown SoCal talents guard Isaac Hamilton and center Marcus Lee to put on a show for local fans.

Kemba Walker and DeAndre Jordan’s Marques Johnson squad took a hit in losing Carr, and doesn’t have the top to bottom star power that Jennings’ team has. Still, the land’s best high school basketball player, Andrew Wiggins, will have the opportunity to put on a show in front of a nationwide audience, and top 5 senior talent Aaron Gordon will have his chance to prove that he has completed his transition to small forward, and shaken off the effects of a spring injury. Keep an eye on mismatch forward Kuran Iverson, who was solid during the summer, and junior Chris Paul-clone Tyus Jones could demonstrate he is the best pure point guard nationally.

The festivities start on Thursday with what should be an at least entertaining dunk contest, with the participants still to be announced. ESPN’s selection team put together two very talented an intriguing rosters, who should have the opportunity to demonstrate their considerable talents against some big names.

Fans of Kansas (Conner Frankamp and Brannen Greene), Syracuse (Tyler Ennis), Washington (Nigel Williams-Goss) and North Carolina (Nate Britt) can get a glimpse into their futures, as they have players that have made non-binding verbal commitments participating in the game. Also, expect UCLA and possibly other programs to benefit from the game’s location with unofficial visits by some of the game’s participants.

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

No shortage of stars in the 2014 high school class

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After every July evaluation period, college basketball recruiting junkies put an eye towards their favorite school’s current recruiting class. It’s hard not to take an early look out a little bit further, though, and dig into the underclassmen stars who will be making an impact as college freshmen.

There already is significant excitement in the 2014 recruiting class, as many members of the basketball community already are familiar with 6-7 wing forward Andrew Wiggins, the native of Canada who recruiting analysts and NBA scouts already believe is the best overall prospect current in the high school basketball ranks. He plays in West Virginia for Huntington Prep, and is believed to be weighing Kentucky and Florida State (where is father played). A player with athleticism and explosiveness as calling cards, Wiggins looks like he’s ideally forged to be a long-time NBA player.

All summer long, it’s been rumored that Wiggins will jump up to the 2013 recruiting class, a move many top stars have made the last few years. With Wiggins being the same age as many 2013 stars, it would make sense for him to do so. If he does reclassify, the top of the 2013 class is still deep and talented, though lacking in the “sure thing” pizzazz that Wiggins represents. Two lead guards on opposite borders of the country, Tyus Jones of Minnesota and Emmanuel Mudiay (pictured) seem poised to fill the gap at the head of the class if Wiggins does reclassify. Jones is the Chris Paul of the high school ranks, while Mudiay is a long, sleek and attacking point guard that has some Russell Westbrook in him.

If Jones and Mudiay don’t do it for fans in terms of excitement, then two Windy City big men, Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander have the post prowess to turn heads. Okafor has a FIBA Americas U17 gold under his belt, and his nearly immovable at over 250 pounds solidly on his 6-9 frame. Alexander has the explosiveness near the hoop to make him unstoppable in drawing fouls and converting, and he has some nasty to his game. At 6-9, 230 pounds, Alexander projects as an elite-level power forward when he refines his skills and harnesses his talent.

An X-factor in the 2014 class is burgeoning combo forward Noah Vonleh. He was a road warrior all spring and summer, taking on all comers in adidas and Nike sponsored events. He’s caught in a no man’s land between small forward and power forward, but at 6-8 he has time to clarify his ultimate position. A long, gazelle-like mover who can just as easily start breaks as he can finishing them, Vonleh can also ascend to the head of the class if Wiggins is gone.

As mentioned above, the core of the best players in the class already have two summers of undefeated play in international competition under their belt. The 2013 class is far from in the books, and certainly has not decided how the top player is, but 2014 has the makings of something special, at present.

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

Coach K wins gold medal in final game with Team USA

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After a driving layup by Chris Paul that all but sealed a victory with 51 seconds remaining in Team USA’s gold medal game against Spain Sunday, head coach Mike Krzyzewski gave a display of emotion that we don’t typically see from the stoic and legendary college coach.

He jumped up in celebration as Team USA took a 104-93 lead, on its way to claiming the gold medal with a 107-100 victory in London.

That moment will be frozen in time for many if Krzyzewski holds to his word and says he is stepping down as Team USA coach, an announcement he made to the Associated Press Saturday.

It has been a memorable basketball year for Coach K, after becoming Division I’s all-time wins leader and now taking the Americans to a gold medal.

He was tapped to become the head coach of the US National Team in 2005, one year after perhaps the lowest point in US Olympic basketball history when they took home a Bronze from the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

”He was the right guy at the right time,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told the Associated Press. ”He’s been so important to me in everything we’ve done in building the infrastructure and philosophy and standards – all of it. His legacy goes beyond the record on the court. We’re 52-1 since this all began, and hopefully we’ll be 53-1 after tomorrow. That’s a legacy in itself.

”I really love him and respect him.”

Coach K took this 2012 team, depleted by injuries in the frontcourt, and made a collection of all-stars into a cohesive unit as they marched toward Sunday’s gold.

Of course, a great deal of credit goes to the players as well, including LeBron James and Kevin Durant, who at separate times carried Team USA. Durant had 30 points against Spain. James added 19.

Don’t think that Colangelo will let Krzyzewski go without some serious efforts to persuade him to stay, but if this is the last chance we have to see him coaching on the international stage, it is memorable, picturesque, and fitting for the man who helped return Team USA to the top.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Tim Frazier looking to lead a Nittany Lion resurgence in 2012-13

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Tim Frazier’s impact on Penn State Basketball grew exponentially in the 2011-12 campaign, as the point guard nearly tripled his scoring average from the season before and led the Big Ten in assists.

But the first season of the Patrick Chambers era in Happy Valley wasn’t a joyful one, as a Nittany Lion team that was adjusting not only to a new coaching staff but also to the loss of some vitally important seniors went 12-20 overall.

With the Big Ten getting even tougher as Indiana continues their rise and a host of teams possessing the look of a contender, rebounding from such a tough season could be difficult.

But the familiarity between Frazier and his head coach, along with a summer that’s included trips to the Deron Williams and LeBron James skills academies, could mean even bigger things for the senior point guard.

“At this time last year I was coming in not knowing what kind of person [Coach Chambers] was or what his style of play was, or what I was getting myself into,” said Frazier in an interview with NBCSports.com on Saturday.

“But now with a year under my belt we’ve [developed] a great relationship that will definitely help the program so I know what he expects and I know what he’s looking for.”

Frazier averaged 18.8 points, 6.2 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game for Penn State, but the Nittany Lions struggled as a team offensively with just one other player averaging double figures (Jermaine Marshall- 10.8 ppg).

How important is Frazier to Penn State? According to Ken Pomeroy’s numbers (subscription required), Frazier ranked tenth nationally with a possession percentage of 32.6% and finished with an offensive rating of 103.8.

Only two other Nittany Lions finished the season with an offensive rating higher than 101, and neither of those players played a role in at least 20% of Penn State’s possessions.

The question now is what does Penn State have to do in order to take steps in the right direction as a program, with Chambers already winning some important battles on the recruiting trail.

“We just have to play Penn State Basketball,” remarked Frazier. “Coach Chambers has brought a new attitude to the program and he’s had some success in the past, and I have no doubt that we’ll have success in the future.”

The presence of Frazier gives Penn State a shot at turning things around in 2012-13, and there aren’t many point guards in America that would be taken ahead of him either.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Anthony Davis headed back to where he helped UK win a title

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The last time Anthony Davis played in New Orleans, he won Most Outstanding Player after leading Kentucky to its eighth national title.

So maybe he won’t mind going back.

The New Orleans Hornets won the NBA draft lottery Wednesday night, claiming the No. 1 overall pick in 2012. They’ll almost certainly draft Davis, the national player of the year and the consensus top player available. It’ll help ease the rough transition from the Chris Paul era into one that’ll feature the most promising defenders to enter the NBA since Greg Oden. (Not that Davis is Oden. Fingers crossed. Now I feel badly for even associating Davis with Oden, the man with the worst knees in NBA history.)

Davis joins a roster without much pop – Paul solved so many of their problems – but with a strong scoring guard in Eric Gordon and hustle guys in Chris Kaman, Carl Landry and Trevor Ariza.

Hmmm. Good luck, Anthony.

After New Orleans, the order goes like this:

2. Charlotte Bobcats
3. Washington Wizards
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
5. Sacramento Kings
6. Portland Trail Blazers (via Nets)
7. Golden State Warriors
8. Toronto Raptors
9. Detroit Pistons
10. New Orleans Hornets (via Minnesota)
11. Portland Trail Blazers
12. Milwaukee Bucks
13. Phoenix Suns
14. Houston Rockets

Apparently the Bobcats will be snagging Barnes (though at No. 2 or by trading down, I don’t know), which means the Wiz could give John Wall some instant help by taking either Bradley Beal or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Either would be better than what Washington has now.

Part of me is hoping Sacramento takes Andre Drummond and pairs him with DeMarcus Cousins to form a new version of the twin towers. Just one that would frustrate Kings fans to no end. That’d be amusing.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.