Cody Zeller

Invitations extended to the NBA Draft’s “Green Room”

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As reported by ESPN’s Chad Ford, the NBA has extended invitations to the “green room” for draft night this coming Thursday, June 27th. This room is designated for players who are projected to be selected in the top half of the first round — “the lottery.”

Those invited are Nerlens Noel (Kentucky); Victor Oladipo (Indiana); Otto Porter (Georgetown); Alex Len (Maryland); Anthony Bennett (UNLV); Ben McLemore (Kansas); Trey Burke (Michigan); Michael-Carter Williams (Syracuse); C.J McCollum (Lehigh) and Cody Zeller (Indiana).

If there is one name on the preceding list that isn’t like the others, it’s Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum, who is the only player from a mid-major league that has been invited to the green room. Make no mistake, McCollum has proven he belongs in this group, but it isn’t often that a player from the Patriot League reaches the NBA. In fact, in the history of the league, there has only been one other player make his mark in the NBA and that was Colgate’s Adonal Foyle.

This year, McCollum and Bucknell’s Mike Muscala will be drafted. For extended draft reading on McCollum, NBC Sports’ Raphielle Johnson spoke with him and his coach, Dr. Brett Reed.

According to Ford, “In the past, the NBA has expanded the list of green room invites as the draft date nears. Typically, the NBA has invited 13-to-15 players. This year, the league has told a number of agents it may add a few names to the list as the draft approaches.”

Other names that may receive an invitation to the green room are Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Georgia), Steven Adams (Pittsburgh), Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA), Sergey Karasev (Russia), Kelly Olynyk (Gonzaga), and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greence).

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

Cody Zeller tentative in No. 1 Indiana’s loss to Minnesota, raises concern for Hoosiers

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Minnesota set the tone early against Indiana’s Cody Zeller on the interior in its 77-73 win Tuesday night at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn.

First it was Gopher forward Trevor Mbakwe with an emphatic block that rejected Zeller at the rim with 13:55 to play in the first half. Less than six minutes later, uber-athletic senior Rodney Williams used his length to swat another Zeller shot in the paint. From that point on Zeller appeared tentative, including scoring only one basket in the final 4:39 of regulation.

He finished with nine points on 2-of-9 shooting and added seven rebounds.

This highlights a lingering problem for Indiana this season and should be a concern, heading into the Big Ten tournament and into March. In order for Indiana to thrive, Zeller must to assertive on the interior. Tuesday night, he was outplayed by a more physical and more imposing Mbakwe. Mbakwe’s 21 points and 12 rebounds, plus the energy he brought on both ends, powered Minnesota to a much-needed win.

Indiana needs the Zeller whose energy pushed him to 24 points and eight rebounds in a win over Ohio State on Feb. 10, or the Zeller who had 19 and 10 one week earlier in a win over Michigan. He doesn’t necessarily need to be the centerpiece of the offense, as swingman Victor Oladipo has shown that he can carry a significant amount of the load, but Zeller needs to be there as an elite complement on the interior that will allow Oladipo and others to thrive.

He has the tools and the array of post move to be a force. We know this. Look no further than his 16.6 rebounds and 8.1 rebounds per game for evidence of it. But as the No. 1 team, the grading scale is different. His continued presence is what makes the Hoosiers a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and in a better position to make a run to the Final Four.

Indiana’s has now lost three times when ranked No. 1 in the nation and drops to 24-4 overall and 13-4 in Big Ten play. That opens the door for Michigan to climb back into the race for the regular season conference title. It also makes one date very important: March 10 in Ann Arbor, when the Wolverines meet Indiana in the Big Ten regular season finale.

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

Cody Zeller, No. 3 Indiana knock off No. 1 Michigan

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It was billed as the Big Ten’s heavyweight title fight of the year and it did not disappoint.

Behind a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds from sophomore forward Cody Zeller, No. 3 Indiana outmuscled No. 1 Michigan down the stretch for an 81-73 victory Saturday night at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind.

Zeller and junior Victor Oladipo set the pace for Indiana on both the offensive and defensive ends. Oladipo’s energy was a catalyst and his impact was felt in more ways than just his 17 points and three rebounds.

Indiana had Assembly Hall on fire from the start, jumping out to a 28-13 lead with 10:13 to play in the first half.

The difference early was energy, with Indiana pushing the basketball and scoring with Oladipo, Zeller, and Christian Watford all contributing and getting the crowd at Assembly Hall to become a factor. Indiana coach Tom Crean was even vocal and visibly expressive in trying to rile up the fans in attendance.

But the same speed that allowed Indiana to get out to an early lead also allowed Michigan to get back into the game, once the Hoosiers sped up too much for their own good.

Indiana turned the ball over 11 times in the first half, almost negating an advantage in rebounding (+8 in 1st half) and shooting percentage (Indiana: 54 percent, Michigan: 40 percent).

While Glenn Robinson III struggled in the first half and Tim Hardaway, Jr., was relatively quiet, point guard Trey Burke carried the Wolverines in the first twenty minutes.

He was relentless in transition and pushed the pace to score 14 of his 25 points in the first half, including a key three-pointer at the close of the half to pull Michigan within four at the break. He would finish with his game-high 25 points on 9-of-24 shooting, while adding eight assists and five rebounds.

Coming out in the second half, Michigan worked to tie the game at 40 with 17:42 to play after three Nik Stauskas free throws.

But from that point, Indiana seized control.

The Hoosiers ripped off an 11-0 run over the next 3:14, capped by a Will Sheehey jumper with 14:27 to play to extend the lead to 51-40. During that stretch, Michigan guard Tim Hardaway Jr. picked up third foul and was forced to the bench. Despite sitting out for that stretch, he finished with 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

Michigan responded quickly with an 11-2 run of its own to pull back within two points, 53-51.

Indiana fought to take control again, never letting Michigan get within four points after the 7:13 mark. Two consecutive Zeller dunks and an Oladipo layup with a questionable “and-one” foul tacked on, extended the lead to seven and the Hoosiers never looked back.

This is the fifth time this season that the No. 1 team has fallen, following Indiana’s loss to Butler, Duke’s losses to both Miami and NC State, and Louisville’s loss to Syracuse.

Indiana now claims sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with a conference mark of 8-1, 20-2 overall. Michigan falls into a tie for second at 7-2 with No. 13 Michigan State and No. 11 Ohio State.

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

Pregame Shootaround 1.27.13: Big Ten battle between Indiana, Michigan St. reigns supreme

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Game of the Day: No. 7 Indiana vs. No. 13 Michigan State (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

Michigan State did not take advantage of its frontcourt assets, Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne nearly enough in its 49-47 win over Wisconsin earlier in the week. Now, against Cody Zeller and Indiana, they’ll need to. The Spartans cannot afford to shoot 38 percent as it did against the Badgers, especially not against the nation’s top scoring team and a team that shoots 50 percent from the floor itself.

For Indiana, the Hoosiers will look to Zeller and swingman Victor Oladipo, but a struggling bench remains a concern. Will Sheehey has not been producing at the rate he was earlier in the season and a game like this has the potential to highlight that major flaw. Indiana will have the benefit of a loud and likely sold out crowd at home in what is a good chance to pick up a win in the tough Big Ten conference slate.

Who’s Getting Upset?: Massachusetts (-3.5) vs. Richmond

Fresh off an upset victory over Virginia Commonwealth, Richmond has the momentum to go on the road and get a tough A-10 victory. Kendall Anthony was the catalyst for the Spiders in their win over VCU with 26 points, but he’ll run into one of the conference’s best point guards on Sunday when he matches up with UMass junior Chaz Williams. Both are low-to-the-ground, quick scoring point guards  and that fails to mention Richmond’s Darien Brothers. He’ll make himself known on Sunday, too.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Niagara vs. Canisius (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Niagara sits atop the MAAC standings at 8-1, but we know from the non-conference season what Canisius is capable of. Antoine Mason and Juan’ya Green are perhaps the conference’s most lethal scoring duo, averaging 18.4 points and 16.4 points respectively, but they will be countered by Billy Baron and Harold Washington, both solid scorers in their own right.

Both teams will be looking to score, so look for a game in the 70s on Sunday, especially if the guards start finding their stroke.

Five Things to Watch For

1) With so many Top 5 teams losing this week, the nation’s No. 1 spot likely belongs to Michigan, if it can get a win over Illinois on Sunday. The Wolverines have lost just one game so far this season.

2) Doug McDermott was sick with flu-like symptoms in the second half of his team’s loss to Drake earlier this week and his performance struggled because of it. The Bluejays hope to have him fully healthy and back in the lineup on Sunday vs. Southern Illinois.

3) Fresh off its 27-point trouncing of No. 1 Duke on Wednesday, Miami looks to avoid a letdown vs. Florida State. Reggie Johnson will be looking to continue to work back to full game shape after returning from injury vs. Duke.

4) St. John’s has a Big East Rookie of the Year candidate in freshman JaKarr Sampson and one of the nation’s premiere shot blockers, Chris Obekpa. They’ve notched two impressive wins over ranked teams, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Lavin is building something solid in Queens. They take on Seton Hall on Sunday.

5) Northeastern remains undefeated in CAA play. George Mason looks to change that Sunday and get a big road win to pull within a game of the top spot in the conference.

The Top 25

No. 2 Michigan vs. Illinois (6:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

No. 7 Indiana vs. No. 13 Michigan State (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

N0. 17 Creighton vs. Soutern Illinois (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

No. 25 Miami vs. Florida State (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Other Notable Games

Seton Hall vs. St. John’s (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Virginia Tech vs. Clemson (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Rutgers vs. Connecticut (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

California vs. Colorado (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net National)

Iowa vs. Purdue (3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Niagara vs. Canisius (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

George Mason vs. Northeastern (8:00 p.m. ET)

Stanford vs. Utah (9:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

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

Indiana cruises past Penn State on the road

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Indiana went on the road and came away with a 74-51 victory over Penn State.

Four of five starters finished in double-figures for the no. 5 Hoosiers, led by Christian Watford’s 16 points and eight rebounds. Cody Zeller capped the game with 15 points and five rebounds in the win. Ross Travis led the Nittany Lions with 14 points.

The Hoosiers held Penn State to 31.7-percent shooting overall, including a 5-for-18 night from three-point range. Indiana finished the night 8-for-16 from deep and shot 52.4-percent overall.

It wasn’t the prettiest game for either team, combining for 36 turnovers (Indiana – 17, Penn State – 19).

It was a solid road win against an inferior opponent for the Hoosiers. I’m sure coach Tom Crean will take 50-percent night from three any time.

David Harten is a sportswriter and college basketball blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

 

Indiana brushes off North Dakota State

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The No. 1 team stays the No. 1 team in the land, at least they did their part to keep it that way.

Indiana got 22 points and nine rebounds from national player of the year candidate Cody Zeller and went to  2-0 on the season with an 87-61 victory over North Dakota State in Assembly Hall.

Three other players finished in double-figures for the Hoosiers, including two bench players in Remy Abell and Jeremy Hollowell with 14 each. Indiana never led by less than 10 in the second half.

Marshall Bjorklund led the Bison with 16.

It’s another day at the office for the Hoosiers and Zeller, who overpowered the overmatched Bison and never really were threatened. Tom Crean and team have so far lived up the the well-deserved hype and if Hollowell and Abell keep up with the steady bench play — both had 12 each in Indiana’s season-opening win over Bryant — there’s no reason this team can’t be the team everyone thinks they can be.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.