Posted on: November 25, 2011 6:03 pm

Greenberg already eager to defend his schedule

By Matt Norlander

NEW YORK — If this were tennis at deuce, advantage: Virginia Tech.

But there is a return serve coming.

The Hokies mucked their way to a 59-57, just-held-on-to-it win over Oklahoma State Friday afternoon in the consolation game of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Decent W. Thing is, these two get another crack at each other on New Year’s Eve, at Oklahoma State, so who’s to say how big this win ultimately will be; the teams could cancel each other out if Okie State wins on Dec. 31. But Virginia Tech won on Nov. 25, and for now, that’s all that matters.

(The reason these two non-conference opponents get each other twice in one year is the unlikelihood and unpredictability of an early-season tournament like the NIT — Oklahoma State and Va. Tech scheduled each other long before they knew they’d get each other in NYC.)

Seth Greenberg’s team got a win, a confidence-builder. Still feeling the sting of the snub to last year’s NCAA tournament, winning a close one means something to Greenberg. It always does.

“The system’s flawed,” Greenberg said of the RPI, warming the cockles of my heart in the process. “We have a very difficult schedule … Kansas State, Minnesota, BYU, Rhode Island, it’s an extremely difficult schedule for such a young team. … I’ve never been able to figure out the RPI.”

To counterpoint Greenberg, none of the teams he mentioned are surefire tournament teams right now. Not easy ones, but nothing close to a Syracuse, which took beat Virginia Tech 69-58 on the eve of Thanksgiving.

I asked Greenberg if he considered bubble implications of this win for down the road, if he and his coaches were aware how winning this game and potentially earning a sweep over OSU in a month would possibly be paramount to his groups tournament chances. He already went into (and I offer this up playfully, not as a critique) defending-his-team’s-resume mode.

“The East Tennessee [State] win is going to help us; that team’s going to win 20-something games this year,” Greenberg said.

I couldn't believe it as he was saying it to me with a straight face. You can’t be using East Tennessee State as a defense ... ever. And he probably knows that, but he can’t help himself. It was funny to see Greenberg default back to that “mode,” if you will.

As for what this team is this year, without the departed Malcolm Delaney, the team's most valuable player last year, Greenberg said, “This team likes each other, is extremely unselfish. They have good trust and the upperclassmen, the few we have, are doing a good job with leadership. Dorenzo (Hudson) is the voice of the team. Erick (Green) leads by example and has total respect of his teammates, and Victor (Davila) is a guy that, when he opens up, people go, ‘Whoa,’ and pay attention.”

What Virginia Tech is best at right now: defending the long shot. The Hokies entered the game as the ninth-most efficient defense nationally against 3-pointers. Oklahoma State was 4-of-16 Friday afternoon — expect the Hokies back in the top five (they were No. 1 before losing to Syracuse Wednesday) by Saturday morning. Hard to judge Dorian Finney-Smith’s performance on an island, since he was a non-factor against Syracuse’s bigs, but he looked very nice against the Pokes. He helped out on a lot of second-chance points and had 14 boards, more offensive (eight) than not. He put up 10 points.

“He’s got a feel for the way the ball’s going to come off,” Greenberg said. “The big improvement was range. … He has a gift to rebound, but I think the best thing he does — he’s a facilitator. I think he makes other people better. He’s like a little kid on Christmas that has a lot of toys. He affects the game in a lot of ways. He can make enough shots to people honest, he can guard multiple positions, and he’s still learning a lot.”

The Hokies have another quick turnaround, as they host St. Bonaventure Sunday.

Photo: AP

Posted on: November 19, 2011 9:29 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 10:39 pm

N.C State: The real deal or an imposter?

By Jeff Goodman

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It was tough to tell.

Is this N.C. State team a legitimate NCAA tournament contender with the addition of C.J. Leslie -- or was this an inaccurate evaluation of the Wolfpack since Vandy was without Festus Ezeli?

I wish I had the answer.

Leslie, in his first game back after serving a two-game NCAA-mandated suspension, was dominant -- especially in the first half. He finished with 20 points.

Richard Howell went for 16 points and nine boards. N.C. State's big men exposed Vanderbilt on the interior, a team that is missing a potential first-round pick in Ezeli.

"I don't know yet," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried told me when asked if this team can get to the Big Dance. "We need all our guns."

The Wolfpack were without its top shooter, Scott Wood, who is nursing a sprained ankle. Gottfried also said he's hopeful that the NCAA will make a decision soon on the status of skilled 6-foot-8 Belgium native Thomas de Thaey. On paper, N.C. State nearly knocked off a Top 20 team on Saturday night.

But Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings will be the first to say that, without Ezeli, his Commodores don't deserve to be ranked right now.

"We've got a long way to go before we're a good team," he said.

Which brings me back to my original question -- which may be impossible to answer just yet.

Photo: AP
Posted on: November 15, 2011 9:34 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 11:20 pm

Mike Krzyzewski breaks record in ideal manner

By Jeff Goodman

NEW YORK - It was the ideal setting.

Bob Knight was courtside calling the game, in the world's most famous arena and with Tom Izzo as the guy on the opposite sideline.

Mike Krzyzewski made history in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night, in a sold-out Madison Square Garden, becoming the all-time winningest men's coach in Division 1 with his 903rd victory.

There was some nerves prior to the game by those in the Duke camp, whether Coach K would break his mentor's mark on Tuesday. Michigan State may not be a Top 25 team, but the Spartans are from from a cupcake. And if Coach K is regarded as the top active coach, Izzo isn't all that far behind.

The next opponent -- if Duke was unable to get past Michigan State - was Davidson at home on Friday night.

But now, with the help of Andre Dawkins' 26 points, it's over - and Krzyzewski can focus on the task of trying to get this Blue Devils team to where they are a legitimate Final Four contender.

And he can also pile on the victories.

He's probably good for at least another 27 this season -- which brings him to 930. Let's give him another five seasons - at about 27 per season - which would put him at in excess of 1,050.

That's a difficult number to chase.

One that may never fall.

Photo: AP
Posted on: November 15, 2011 11:55 am
Edited on: November 15, 2011 12:03 pm

Henson's Carrier Classic uni auctioned on eBay?

Jeff Borzello

The Carrier Classic was everything that is right about today’s world. There was no talk of suspensions, extra benefits, or academic ineligibility; or the economy, foreign wars and social unrest.

After such a beautiful event, it seems to have taken a turn for the worse.

After the game, North Carolina center John Henson gave his game-worn jersey to a veteran aboard the ship.

Now, an unnamed person is trying to sell that uniform.

“Whoever is selling my jersey I gave to a wounded veteran from the ship is not cool at all… smh…” Henson tweeted earlier today.

It turns out someone took to eBay and is auctioning off the Henson jersey for more than $1500. Once Henson mentioned it in a tweet, though, the auction suddenly was taken down from the site.

Matt Norlander screen grabbed the page though, which you can see above.

It’s presumably not the veteran Henson gave the jersey to; someone must have gotten hold of the jersey along the way and tried to swing a profit off of it. If it was the veteran selling it, then it's just a poor move for sentimental value. This was a historic game and should be remembered.

If it was a middleman trying to profit off of the game, that’s disgusting.

Posted on: November 13, 2011 3:52 pm

Virginia poised to make leap in the ACC

By Jeff Borzello

Outside of North Carolina, Duke and maybe Florida State, the ACC is fairly wide-open this season. There is a gap between the Seminoles and the next team in line, just waiting for a team to step up and be a contender.

Why not Virginia?

The Cavaliers got off to a roaring start to their season on Sunday afternoon, thoroughly handling South Carolina State, 75-38. Mike Scott was his typically impressive self, racking up eight points and 15 rebounds, while Joe Harris got hot early and scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers.

Sure, it was just South Carolina State, which is not expected to be much of a factor in the MEAC race. For me, though, the Cavaliers just needed to look good in order for me to be a believer.

It starts with Tony Bennett, who was 31-31 in two seasons since arriving in Charlottesville. On the surface, that’s obviously not impressive, but there was plenty of injuries and plenty of personnel attrition along the way. Bennett now has a roster full of his type of players, which means they will get after it on the defensive end and make life difficult for the opponent at the other end.

The return of Scott is a huge boost. He’s one of the most underrated players in the conference, and flew even further under the radar this season after missing most of last year with an ankle injury. Scott provides a legitimate inside option for the Cavaliers.

The perimeter is deep and talented. Harris and K.T. Harrell are both talented shooters who spurred multiple runs for the Cavaliers against South Carolina State on Sunday. When they are knocking down their shots, it opens up more opportunities for Scott down low. Jontel Evans is a quick point guard who creates pressure on both sides of the ball, and Sammy Zeglinski, who missed Sunday with an ankle injury, can play both guard spots. Freshman Malcolm Brogdon can be an impact player.

When Bennett has had success in the past, he has had a very solid perimeter, capable inside players and a ferocious defense. The Cavaliers have the pieces to be like that this season. They have been one of the better defensive teams in the ACC the past two seasons, but have simply not had the offensive firepower or inside play to contend with the top teams in the conference. They’ve shown flashes, but haven’t been able to put it together on a consistent basis.

If everyone stays healthy, and Assane Sene and James Johnson provide something up front, don’t be surprised to see Virginia finish fourth in the ACC and go dancing come March.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: November 12, 2011 6:37 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 6:42 pm

Krzyzewski ties Knight record with Saturday's win

By Jeff Goodman

It couldn't have set up any better.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski will go into Tuesday night's Champions Classic - a three-year round-robin event that also includes national powers Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State - with an opportunity to make history.

With a victory at Madison Square Garden against Michigan State, Coach K will become the NCAA Division 1 all-time winningest coach.

Krzyzewski, whose team suffered a close call on Friday night in a one-point win over Belmont, tied Bob Knight's record of 902 on Saturday afternoon with a convincing win over Presbyterian.

Now he'll have a chance to make history with a win over Michigan State and another future Hall of Famer, Tom Izzo.

While Izzo's Spartans aren't ranked and are coming off a loss to top-ranked North Carolina at the Carrier Classic on Friday, this isn't exactly a layup for Coach K and the Blue Devils.

Krzyzewski will have a chance to break his old coach's mark in New York City with the nation watching. If it doesn't happen, it'll likely occur at home against Davidson four days later.

It's inevitable, but it would be cool for him to do it on Tuesday night in an event that was created to give a much-needed jolt to the start of the college basketball season.

The 64-year-old Krzyzewski, whose career mark is 902-284, has a chance to shatter the record if he goes another five or so years - as many close to him expect to be the case.

"He wants to put it out of reach," said one Coach K confidant.

Coach K moved into exclusive company - one that includes only John Wooden and Adolph Rupp - when he won his fourth national title a couple years ago.

He won't ever catch Wooden's 10 national championships, but the same may be said for his win total - when K ultimately decides to call it a career.

Photo: AP
Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:01 am

NC State's Leslie among three suspended Friday

By Jeff Borzello

North Carolina State announced on Friday that forward C.J. Leslie will sit out the first three games of the season due to receiving impermissible benefits.

Leslie and his half-brother accepted $410 from a friend after a car accident last May. The friend, a former NC State student, allowed Leslie to borrow his car and also paid an apartment application fee for Leslie’s half-brother.

NC State reported the violations to the NCAA.

“I understand the issue and regret what has occurred,” Leslie said. “I will support my teammates in every way possible and look forward to getting back on the court.”

Leslie missed the Wolfpack’s 84-75 win over UNC-Asheville on Friday, and will also be on the sidelines for Sunday’s contest against Morehead State, and Wednesday’s game against Princeton.

He averaged 11.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season.

Glen Rice Jr. suspended for violating team rules

Shortly before Georgia Tech opened its season against Florida A&M, head coach Brian Gregory announced that Glen Rice Jr. had been suspended for three games for a violation of team rules.

Gregory did not get into specifics.

“The guys are learning that there are consequence, but there’s also going to be growth,” Gregory told reporters after the Yellow Jackets’ 92-59 victory. “We’re here to help him grow from this.”

Rice Jr., a 6-foot-5 swingman, averaged 12.8 points and 5.6 rebounds last season. He sat out last night’s game and will also miss next week’s matchups against Delaware State and Saint Joseph’s.

Marquette’s Juan Anderson suspended for three games

The NCAA has suspended Marquette freshman forward Juan Anderson for three games because he accepted a free ticket to a Brewers’ playoff game.

The Golden Eagles self-reported the violation.

“My college eligibility is much too valuable for me to risk,” Anderson said.

The freshman from California had been receiving rave reviews for his performance in early workouts and practices.  

Photo: US Presswire

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: November 12, 2011 9:51 am

Photo album: Carrier Classic

By Matt Norlander

It shows you how great last night was, when you consider the fact the game was a stinker. But no one seemed to care about that. The incredible views and television production and -- most importantly -- massive nod and acknowledgment to our country's veterans were the takeaways from Friday night. (Here's Parrish's take.)

The photos? So great. I sent an hour hunting through the three major photo dens at Associated Press, Getty Images and US PRESSWIRE. I could've loaded this post with about 30 photos, but I went with the 16 most notable I saw. I the fifth-to-last one may be my favorite.

Photos: AP, US PRESSWIRE, Getty Images
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com