Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:01 pm

Pe'Shon Howard ready to return for Maryland

Jeff Borzello

HYATTSVILLE, Md. – Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin has been one of the most productive scorers in the country this season, but he’s had to shoulder much of the load himself. Help is on the way, though.

Sophomore guard Pe’shon Howard told CBSSports.com on Saturday that he will return December 23. He has missed the entire season thus far due to a foot injury.

“We’re going to add a little more each game,” Howard said at the National High School Hoops Festival, where he was supporting Oak Hill Academy. “The 23rd, that’s four games until NC State, so I should be back at 100 percent with no hesitation.”

There was a chance Maryland was going to bring him back for next Wednesday’s game against Florida International, but he wouldn’t have been able to play much anyway. By having him return two weeks before ACC play, the Terrapins will be able to ease him back so he’s comfortable when conference competition kicks off.

Originally, the fear was that Howard would be out two or three months with a broken foot, similar to Duke’s Kyrie Irving last season. However, it’s clear Irving’s injury was more severe. Howard is already wearing sneakers on both feet and isn’t showing any sign of an injury.

“We went to a few different doctors, was in a boot for about a week or so,” Howard said. “They said it’s a feel process.”

Howard has already been practicing, getting involved in a few possessions here and there, and also going full-speed in drills. He’s also in the process of getting back in shape, running on the treadmill to get his stamina and his cardio back. He hasn’t had any live contact yet though.

“All along, we were taking it slow because if I reinjure it, it’s a 12-week injury,” Howard said. “I’m going to test it out. Everyone’s on the same page.”

Howard has been wearing orthotics in his shoes, which eases the pressure on his feet. As a result, he said he has felt no discomfort in recent days.

Maryland is 5-3 right now, coming off a very tight win against Mount St. Mary’s earlier in the week. Head coach Mark Turgeon has some pieces, but Howard’s return – and Alex Len completing his suspension – will provide a considerable boost.

“I think the team can use me, for sure,” Howard said. “But I think they’re doing fine, they took big steps against Illinois and Notre Dame. They’ve grown up a lot; Nick Faust has learned to play point guard. It’s a good adjustment for the team. It could be a blessing in disguise.”

Howard isn’t worried about rushing back to the court too soon; he’s ready to contribute.

“You can’t hold back,” he said.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: December 10, 2011 2:35 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 3:47 pm

Duke gets sloppy, still wins easy over Washington

By Matt Norlander

NEW YORK — Light your torches in Durham, but I must ask: Why can’t I fully buy into this Duke team as elite yet?

I know the answer: because it's not yet put it all together, nor should it necessarily should at this juncture. Disagree? Then you side against me and Duke's players, who agree the team is not yet consistently playing at the highest of levels.

“We can get better. There’s things we must work on,” Austin Rivers said after Dukes 86-80 win Saturday afternoon over Washington. “For instance, we were up 17. At our full potential, we don’t let up that lead.”

Saturday's game in Madison Square Garden wasn’t ever in doubt, but Duke’s 86-80 W in a blasé way. The Blue Devils shot badly from the foul line (61.4 percent), saw Rivers and Seth Curry foul out, but still coasted past a Huskies team that will now have to play for its life to earn bubble-worthy talk in about six weeks. Duke also had 15 turnovers (five coming from Curry) and 21 hacks in an ugly 50-foul game.

This isn’t me doubting Duke as a top-10 team — in fact, just the opposite. I think when you play as badly as they did Saturday and still beat a plenty-capable team without too much trouble, it’s a very good sign. Washington’s a team that, even if it can’t ever string together a slew of Ws in a row, it won’t ever be an easy out.

“It’s frustrating because we played better than a six-point win,” Rivers said. “There goes your two best scorers on the team, and I think the main thing is, we started getting complacent. We basically just got safe instead of attacking — that’s what got us the lead in the first place.  The first half we were playing defense, making them turn the ball over, getting charges, and every time we got a rebound we kept attacking, attacking. And then we get this 18-point lead, and it’s like, ‘All right, let’s calm down.’”

But with Duke, there’s an ingredient there that’s not quite mixing in yet. If it was playing at its peak today, it’d have beaten Washington by 25. Instead, it won by six. This sounds like nit-picking, but that’s what happens when you’re Duke, you’re so good every year and the expectations of your team are top-five-in-the-nation level. Duke can get there; it's not playing like it just yet.

“It was weird, because we thought we played better for the whole game until the last five minutes. We should’ve won more than by what we did,” Curry said. “We weren’t aggressive until the end.”

It was only the second time Curry’s ever fouled out in his college career. Perhaps Curry's issues at point guard are the legitimate long-term concern, but at least he's aware of it. And at least Duke's in a better position with him than a team like Vanderbilt, which seems downright handcuffed at the 1, where Duke might just be tied up at the moment.

“We’re still finding our rotations, how guys are going to play where, and I’m still trying to work on my point-guard ability,” Curry said. “The biggest thing is trying to find my scoring, these past few games I haven’t been scoring as much as I usually do. I need to balance my scoring abilities with running the team.”

Yes, absolutely, part of it was Washington, which can be so erratic but also continues to draw us in because of the natural talent, speed and ability on Lorenzo Romar's team. Duke’s players said Washington’s backcourt was the best they’ve faced this season.

Mike Krzyzewski looked to the free throws as the reason it was so close at the end. Totally legitimate, but if Duke remains aggressive and plays with gusto, free throws aren't an issue. Mason Plumlee was the worst of it, going 2-of-11, but he's a 42-percent foul shooter as it is. There's not much you can do to fix that in three months' time.

“We must get better at free throws, and we cannot let up at any point in the game,” brother Miles Plumlee said. “But when we get up sometimes, people get settled. … We’ve let up in almost every game.”

Duke teams letting up ... sounds out of character, right? The Devils have the pieces, and I think eventually Rivers needs to be given the keys without abandon, but for now, a little more toughness and aggressiveness is what's got to come as Duke heads toward the new year.


Quick note on Rivers, who's had his fair share of criticism just seven weeks into his college career. As of late, the chirping has piped down on his game. I asked him if he'd heard, known, paid attention to the scrutiny. He said yes, but is a media-savvy kid. You can tell when you talk to him that he gets the game. I think his quotes above the asterisk right there and down below are telling to who he is.

“It just made me more motivated, to tell you the truth,” Rivers said. “I thought I was actually playing well, the coaches though it was doing everything in needed to do. The media got on me a little bit, but they haven’t gotten on me since, because I fixed things. … They’ve all said positive things since, so whatever I’ve been doing, I guess it’s been right.”

The matter was never addressed in practice, Rivers said.

“I started calming down, realizing how to play my game through the college game,” he said. “I got it. I can play now.”

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 9, 2011 8:55 am

Wakeup Call: Officially, the draft rule stays

By Matt Norlander

This is stupid. I thought the original really came into its own -- commercially and artistically. // The best music of 2011. Yes, I've got issues with some selections, but a lot of that is up my alley. // Investment banker writes condescending email to girl who realized immediately what she got herself into; writes how you’d imagine an entitled investment banker would. // Impressive. Don't let anyone tell you how you can't do something. // The best books of 2011. I've actually read two! // If it's at all possible to be let down by a Kate Upton photo gallery ...

★ Yeah, minor detail and all, but as expected: NBA draft rule remains as is.

★ We debuted our Player of the Year feature yesterday. We'll be coming back to this throughout the season.

★ Mountain Goats looped over Frank Martin's anger? MY HEART IS YOURS.

★ Got some UConn-over-Harvard reaction for you. That game played out pretty much like I thought it would. Crimson still capable of stealing one in March.

★ More thoughts on Harvard, via College Hoops Journal, a site you should totally follow on Twitter.

★ Good catch by Eamonn Brennan, who saw the report that the NBA will play on championship Monday this year due to the 66-game schedule.

★ What college basketball doesn't need: another team in Division I.

★ Small story out in Hawaii, but whoa.

★ This was a great sportswriter's re-telling of what it's like to be a writer and amid the NBA lockout.

★ Looks like Sullinger's playing against Kansas, which is great.

★ Still wonder what BYU becomes in conference play this year, but Davies is so important to that team regardless.

★ I'll try not to link Winn's Power Rankings every Friday morning, the morning after they get published, but I can't make any promises.

★ Deregulation at the college level? How that's possible.

► Don't know, don't care. Have watched 30 times.

♬ Yeah, I've got that soft emo side to me, OK? Jeez, lay off or I just might cry about it. Let's listen to some Death Cab for Cutie, a perfect way to head into the weekend. This is one of the "harder" DCfC songs Ben Gibbard's written. It's off Transatlanticism, the band's best album.

Photo: AP
Posted on: December 8, 2011 4:09 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 4:22 pm

Greenberg checks in from locked-down Va. Tech

By Jeff Goodman

Virginia Tech Seth Greenberg sat at his desk on Thursday afternoon, in the midst of a campus-side lockdown after a gunman shot and killed two people - including a campus police officer.

"It's sad. This is a peaceful, quiet, serene community," Greenberg told CBSSports.com. "This is not reflective of the environment here at all." "We're seeing that there are deranged people in any environment," he added.

Authorities continued to search for the gunman, who killed the police officer on campus during a traffic stop. Greenberg sounded in shock after the second major tragedy that has taken police on the Blacksburg campus in four years. In April of 2007, 33 people were killed by a gunman.

Greenberg said he and his staff have been in constant communication with his players and their families. He also said that one of his daughters, Ella, a cheerleader at the school, was locked down next door at the Coliseum.

"I can't even get to her," Greenberg said. "I've been texting with her consistently and I know she's alright."

"This place is all about community," he added. "It's the greatest sense of community and university of anywhere I've ever been. ... It's just so sad."

Final exams have been postponed. Greenberg's team defeated Rhode Island on Wednesday night and wasn't scheduled to practice today.

Photo: AP

Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:15 am

Wakeup Call: Sign up for our new newsletter

By Matt Norlander

Is there something fundamentally wrong with how we assemble standardized tests in this country? // This worst-Christmas-songs bracket is fine, but at least six of those songs do not suck. If you can't bop to "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," then you can't wear that sweater to my party. Also, McCartney penned the worst still-widely-played Christmas song ever. // Suicide by piranha? // Is Guns N' Roses the Gale Sayers of HOF rock and roll bands? Rush continues to be victimized. // That's one heck of a cake to thank your surgeon with. //

★ Palm's second edition of Bracketology is up. Go look and see if where/if your team would be in the tournament, should it start today.

★ I haven't been incessant about this on the blog at all, so here it goes: We're on Facebook. A Like would be appreciated, absolutely. We do things a little different over on that side of the Internet.

★ We've also now got a newsletter which, again, is enough of a change-up from what you see on the blog that it's worth subscribing to. We're trying to give you as much access, information and variance in coverage/tone that you're satisfied no matter what.

★ The Syracuse DA has his doubts about the third accuser in the Bernie Fine case.

★ Non-Fine news related to Syracuse: The AD says it won't leave the Big East early. Hmmmmm. It's expected Zach Tomaselli will file a civil suit against Fine today.

Missed this. Love it.

★ You think San Diego State going to the Big West won't hurt recruiting?

★ The once-sour relationship with Tim Hardaway, Jr. and his famous father.

★ The Legends Classic had a bad showing in Atlantic City in 2010. This year, further north at the Izod Center, it wasn't much better. But in 2012, it's off to Brooklyn.

★ Another problem surfaces at UCLA, but this has nothing to do with character issues or suspensions.

★ I enjoy Mrs. O'Neil when she finds that soapbox and pulls it out of the storage bin.

★ This really does look like a Butler team that could not make the tournament this season. We best get used to that.

Beasties got voted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame yesterday, as linked above. Of all their singles, this is my favorite. Also the first one I memorized. The Boys still have it after three decades; I really liked a lot of Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. Well I'm as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce ...

Posted on: December 7, 2011 11:50 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 11:57 pm

Night Court: Florida knocks off Arizona in OT

Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Wednesday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Without Josiah Turner, Arizona went into Florida with its back against the wall. The Wildcats, though, led by seven with seven minutes left before Florida rallied to win in overtime, 78-72. Nick Johnson was solid in Turner’s place, while Patric Young dominated down low for Florida, going for 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Win to brag about: Dayton had struggled since winning the Old Spice Classic, losing to Buffalo and Murray State by a combined 46 points the past two games. However, the Flyers led by as many as 16 points en route to a 74-62 win over Alabama. Kevin Dillard had 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Chris Johnson racked up 20 points.

Loss to hide from: There were a couple of embarrassing losses, but Utah takes the cake yet again. The Utes played host to a Cal State Fullerton team that is expected to be a middle-of-the-pack team in the Big West – and lost by 31. Utah was outrebounded by 28, and also allowed the Titans to shoot nearly 57 percent from the field. It’s almost at the point where, if Utah doesn’t beat Idaho State next weekend, the Utes might not beat a Division-I team this season.

Player who deserves improper benefits: In Festus Ezeli’s first game back for Vanderbilt, it was another Commodore that stole the show. Jeffery Taylor went for 30 points and four rebounds, shooting 12-for-17 from the field, in an 87-83 win over Davidson. As for Ezeli, the big man had 15 points and six assists.

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Penn State's Tim Frazier came into Wednesday averaging 19 points per game. Against Lafayette at home, Frazier went 0-for-12 from the field with five turnovers in a 61-57 loss. Frazier finished with just three points, although he did dish out nine assists.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • After its win over Alabama on Wednesday, Dayton has now won nine of its last 10 games against BCS opponents.
  • Louisville’s Chris Smith scored 19 points against IUPUI on Wednesday, surpassing 1,000 career points.
  • Meanwhile, Alex Young was held to just nine points for the Jaguars. That’s only the fourth time in the past two seasons he’s been held to single-digits.
  • Georgia Tech beat Georgia on the road for the first time in 35 years.
  • Colorado State came into Wednesday leading the nation in 3-point percentage at 46 percent. The Rams went 4-for-11 from behind the arc.

Three other notable results:

  1. Illinois rallied late to beat St. Bonaventure, 48-43. Brandon Paul scored 12 points in the last four minutes.
  2. Wisconsin beat Wisconsin-Green Bay by 28, but the Kohl Center didn’t sell out for the first time in 144 games.
  3. Xavier handled Butler in a battle of two of the best non-BCS programs, 73-61. The Musketeers jumped out to a 27-9 lead and never looked back.


  • Nevada beat Arizona State, but Malik Story was held to nine points, below his season average of 15 points per game. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as ASU assistant Scott Pera was Story’s high school coach.
  • Princeton beat Rutgers for the second straight season, as Ian Hummer hit a game-winner with three seconds left.
  • High Point’s Nick Barbour went for 35 points Wednesday night, but Wake Forest picked up a road win.
  • Weber State’s Damian Lillard, the nation’s leading scorer, was held to 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting as BYU beat the Wildcats, 94-66.
  • Iona rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to beat Denver in overtime, 80-78. Randy Dezouvre hit a long 2-pointer with 1.6 seconds left in overtime.

On tap: There’s a top-25 matchup on the docket, as Harvard visits Connecticut in a game many are pointing to as a potential upset. Two of the most intense coaches in the country – Frank Martin and Bob Huggins – will tangle when West Virginia takes on Kansas State. The best non-BCS game of the day will involve Cleveland State and Robert Morris.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: December 7, 2011 9:20 am
Edited on: December 7, 2011 9:32 am

Wakeup Call: Pac-12 suspensions becoming a trend

By Matt Norlander

Music today is horrible, etc. // My God I'm horrified and yet can't look away. // I love eight of the top 10 worst cereals for you. // This was a terrific read ...

Very tragic news out of Ohio State.

★ They turn around that SI Sportsman of the Year dinner pretty quick, huh? When do you think Summitt and K got the news? I'm saying about 10 days ago.

★ Josiah Turner will not play tonight against Florida. Gators should win by 10 or 14.

★ Did you catch it? Jay Bilas infused his Twitter persona on the air last night.

★ Been awhile since I've agreed this much with a Mike DeCourcy column.

★ Goodman could just as easily blog all this great information, but it's much prettier in one big column.

★ Why the sophomore-year improvement for one point guard hasn't translated to similar results for his team.

★ One program, a program with one of the greatest nicknames in the history of sports, played its 2,000 game last night.

★ John Gasaway, I know you read the Wakeup Call, and so I want to thank you directly for a very convincing argument against those who believe players receiving endorsements will create chaos for competing schools.
★ We're big proponents of non-D-I dunks here in the Wakeup Call. The latest. The play-by-play is just as good. Feel free to send yours if you're from an NAIA, D-II or D-III school.

Talking Twitter and hoops, Borzello and I are.

★ I wrote about Florida yesterday, but that's not what I'm hear to talk about. I'm hear to link you to a better piece, written by Andy Glockner.

Howland does deserve criticism for having the guts to suspend Reeves Nelson twice, but not kick him off the team. One explusion comes before two suspensions in three weeks, IMO.

★ On that Missouri win, that unbeaten start and my man, Marcus Denmon, playing even better than his biggest proponents thought he cold.

► This was relayed to me on Twitter yesterday after I bashed  the Big East for taking SMU. I'm now ready to fully retract that claim.

♬ I normally use this space to plug a band I think is worth your time/worth discovering. Today, I'm passing along an artist I'm not familiar with. It's a pretty disgusting blues track -- from a blind guy. This is so great. His name is Jeff Healey, and I don't know much of his music but that should change soon. Sad as hell: Healey's already left the coil, having died from cancer in 2008. We've been cheated again.

Photo: Getty Images

Posted on: December 6, 2011 9:09 am

Basketball Wakeup Call: Vitale gets court honors

By Matt Norlander

This got a lot of run on the 'Net Monday: the 45 Most Powerful Images of 2011. Just some absolute all-timers in there. // Yesterday had to be the biggest day in space news in ever. First, there was the planet with possible life on it. // We've got NASA Voyager up and out of this piece we call our Solar System. // The really happy news: astronomers have found black holes the size of 10 billion suns. There's only one way for this party to end, folks. // I hate that lists start so early in December (can't we wait until the 20th or so?), but here are/were the top stories on Twitter, Yahoo and Bing ...

★ How great was it that Dickie V got the floor named in his honor at Detroit last night? Good for him.

★ Utah's dumpster fire of a season continues.

★ The third accuser in the Bernie Fine case has fessed up to molesting a young himself.

The 10 sophomores a certain high-profile CBS TV analyst thinks you need to be watching for from here through March.

★ If you missed us linking to it yesterday, the gallery of every Sports Illustrated Sportsman or Sportswoman of the Year.

★ Looking at UNC-UK from a scout's perspective. Jonathon Givony does good work here.

★ I absolutely refuse to click on the video linked in this blog post, but I do wonder if Weber State's in for a lot of trouble in the next few weeks.

★ Love the hoops doubleheader. It's really no big deal for those kids -- they played three games in one day on the regular during AAU tournaments.

★ It's already starting to feel like a lost year for Utah State, yes?

★ The details of Chauncey Hardy's death overseas just seem like such a waste. A trial is now pending, since the investigation has been completed.

★ A different kind of Christmas tree.

★ Valpo has certainly become one of the good-not-great surprises of the season.

Now Ben Howland is seeing the light?

► This will get is annual airtime on ESPN tonight. Watch, as usual. Be moved, like you always are. One of the best things about ESPN's programming, undoubtedly.

♬ I could only hold out for a month before giving Jimi a bump. If you're just a casual Hendrix fan, then I just don't get it, but here's a tune you may not have heard before. It's in my top five.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com