Tag:Jeff Goodman
Posted on: January 1, 2012 10:22 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 10:27 pm
 

Night Court: Gates-less Bearcats win -- again

By Jeff Goodman

(NOTE: We will file a Night Court almost every night this season. Follow @GaryParrishCBS, @GoodmanCBS, @MattNorlander, @JeffBorzello and @EyeOnCBB on Twitter to make sure it gets sent to you as soon as it's posted.)

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

Game of the day: Cincinnati became the third team to go into the Peterson Events Center and come away with a victory this season. Pittsburgh entered Sunday with a 156-14 mark in the building and the Panthers had won 62 of their past 66 home games at the Pete. The Bearcats won 66-63 and run their record since The Brawl to a perfect 6-0. 

Win to brag about: Akron has been difficult to figure this season. The Zips handed Mississippi State a win in Starkville early in the season and got another big road victory Sunday, a fairly easy 67-51 win at Marshall -- a team expected to challenge Memphis for the C-USA title. Five guys finished in double-figures in a game that was delayed for an hour due to a bent rim on one of the baskets. 

Loss to hide from: Pittsburgh is now 0-2 in the Big East and has lost three straight games overall after the setback to Cincinnati. Jamie Dixon has seen Khem Birch leave the program after 10 games and was without Travon Woodall again on Sunday as he sat out for precautionary reasons. 

Player who deserves improper benefits: Michigan freshman Trey Burke is making those in Ann Arbor say, "Darius Who?" Burke went for a career-high 27 points in a win over Minnesota and has made Michigan fans forget about last year's point guard Darius Morris -- who left early for the NBA. 

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Villanova's Dominic Cheek was a big-time recruit. Frankly, he just hasn't lived up to expectations. Cheek was just 2-of-10 from the field, 1-of-7 from long distance and had nearly as many fouls (5) as points (6) in 'Nova's loss at Marquette. 

Numbers don’t lie:

26: That's how many consecutive field goal attempts that Bowling Green's Torian Oglesby has converted. He was 10-for-10 in a loss to UTSA on Sunday. 

6: That's the number of times already this season that North Carolina sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall has managed double-figure assists. He had 11 in the rout over Monmouth. 

42: That's the percentage that North Carolina's trio of Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston are shooting from beyond the arc. They are a combined 72-of-173 this season. 

Three Other notable results:

Syracuse ran its record to 15-0 after an easy road win at DePaul. The Orange started 18-0 a year ago and the program's best start was 19-0 in 1999-2000. 

Marquette knocked off Villanova, 81-77, in Milwaukee. Darius Johnson-Odom went for 24 points and 'Nova fell to 7-7 overall and 0-2 in league play. 

Michigan jumped out to a 2-0 start in Big Ten play with a 61-56 victory over Minnesota in Ann Arbor. 

Notes:

Rutgers talented freshman big man Kadeem Jack made his debut against Florida, playing three minutes in the win, and logged five minutes in the loss to South Florida. 

Joe Jackson's former summer league coach told CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish that the Memphis point guard won't transfer and will remain with the Tigers. 

Tennessee's Cuonzo Martin told CBSSports.com that Jarnell Stokes -- who has enrolled early -- won't play against his hometown Memphis Tigers even if he's cleared by the NCAA in time for Wednesday's game. 

On tap: 

It's a fairly light Monday, one that's headlined by a Big 12 matchup between Texas A&M and Baylor. Towson has its best shot of ending its futility streak prior to setting the Division 1 record when it hosts Northeastern at 7 p.m. ET. Marquette lost in Baton Rouge to LSU earlier this season. Now Trent Johnson gets a chance at what appears to be the third-best team in the ACC: Virginia. 

Posted on: January 1, 2012 9:00 pm
 

Jarnell Stokes won't play in Memphis this week

By Jeff Goodman

Jarnell Stokes won't make his debut in his hometown of Memphis this week. In fact, the talented big man may not see his first college action for a couple weeks. 

Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin told CBSsports.com that even if Stokes, a Memphis native who is enrolling in college early, gets through the NCAA clearinghouse, he won't play against the Tigers on Wednesday night in Memphis. 

"We need to get him acclimated, adjusted and comfortable," Martin told CBSSports.com. "There's no reason to rush him." 

Martin said it's unlikely Stokes would play until Jan. 12 at the earliest.

Martin doesn't want to throw his talented Memphis native -- who committed last week and will enroll in college early -- to the wolves. 

Stokes, who graduated from high school in 3 1/2 years, is still waiting to be officially admitted to school and cleared by the NCAA. But the schedule is daunting for the big man with hometown Memphis this week, followed by Florida on Jan. 7, at Mississippi State on Jan. 12 and Kentucky on Jan. 14. 

If that's the case, he might want to wait to play him until Jan. 18 in Athens against Georgia. 

Posted on: January 1, 2012 8:44 pm
 

Updated Top 25 (and one)

By Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman

The Top 25 (and one) will be updated on the college basketball page shortly.

Here's how it will look ...
  1. Syracuse (15-0)
  2. Kentucky (13-1)
  3. North Carolina (13-2)
  4. Duke (12-1)
  5. Baylor (13-0)
  6. Michigan State (13-2)
  7. Indiana (13-1)
  8. Ohio State (13-2)
  9. Missouri (13-0)
  10. Connecticut (12-1)
  11. Georgetown (12-1)
  12. UNLV (15-2)
  13. Louisville (12-2)
  14. Kansas (10-3)
  15. Florida (11-3)
  16. Mississippi State (13-2)
  17. Michigan (12-2)
  18. Harvard (12-1)
  19. Marquette (12-2)
  20. Wisconsin (12-3)
  21. Creighton (11-2)
  22. San Diego State (12-2)
  23. Murray State(14-0)
  24. Virginia (12-1)
  25. Kansas State (11-1)
  26. Gonzaga (11-2)
Posted on: January 1, 2012 10:14 am
 

Indiana proving Hoosier Hysteria for real

By Jeff Goodman

First it was Kentucky. Now Ohio State. 

It's about time we start taking Indiana seriously. 

When I made a stop in Bloomington back in October, I knew this was a team that was set to improve upon the last struggles of the past few years. Will Sheehey had made a serious jump from his freshman season and Tom Crean added the most significant recruit in his tenure - talented freshman big man Cody Zeller. 

But I didn't see this coming. 

No one did. 

Hoosier Hysteria is officially back. I was still cautious, even after the win over Kentucky three weeks ago, not quite ready to declare the Hoosiers a lock to make the NCAA tournament. Could a program that had won just eight league games over Crean's first three seasons in Bloomington turn it around so quickly in Big Ten play?

There was the opener at the Breslin Center in East Lansing against Michigan State. Although the Hoosiers lost, they did it in impressive fashion. They took an early punch from the Spartans before delivering one of their own. Yes, they wound up leaving 0-1 in conference play, but this group showed it was mentally resilient. 

There are those who still want to see if this group can sustain this throughout Big Ten play, especially on the road, but as long as Crean & Co. win six more games in the league, Indiana is a lock to make the NCAA tourney. 

It sure looks as though I was wrong in my prediction this team would be headed to an NIT berth. 

Fans aren't the only ones that can relax that this program is headed in the right direction, either. Crean can finally relax. His future as IU's coach is secure. They'll be no more Brad Stevens-to-Bloomington thoughts around these parts. 

I questioned the backcourt of Jordan Hulls and Verdell Jones. I questioned whether Christian Watford was consistent enough. I questioned the depth after the Hoosiers lost Mo Creek. Well, Indiana is 13-1 with wins over two of the elite teams in America. 

Sure, there will be excuses from some. The two wins were in front of raucous crowds in Bloomington. Terrence Jones didn't show up in the UK game and Ohio State was plagued by foul trouble on Saturday. Well, Indiana was without Sheehey against the Buckeyes. 

The bottom line here is that Indiana has earned a spot in the top half of the Top 25 - and it's only going to get better in Bloomington. 

Posted on: December 29, 2011 3:06 pm
 

UMass on an upswing

By Jeff Goodman

It's tough to tell whether it's experience, the addition of a legitimate point guard or jettisoning Vance Walberg and his now-infamous Dribble Drive. Whatever the case, Derek Kellogg finally appears to have his alma mater, the UMass Minutemen, on track.

The first three seasons haven't exactly gone as planned, but UMass had 10 wins under its belt prior to Santa Clause arriving at the Kellogg Household - and that's a significant sign of progress. Sure, there aren't a ton of eye-popping victories -- the most impressive is a home win against Davidson last week -- but it's about steady progress these days for this once-storied program. The three losses are all legitimate: Florida State in the Bahamas, against a quality College of Charleston club and also at Miami.

Hofstra transfer Chaz Williams leads the team in scoring (14.5) and has a near 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, putting up 6.2 assists per contest. There's no one else averaging double-figure scoring, but guys like Raphiael Putney (8.8 ppg) and even Freddie Riley (8.7 ppg) are starting to mature after coming into the program undisciplined and unprepared. The new players -- Cady Lalanne and Max Esho -- aren't putting up staggering numbers, but give UMass quality depth it truly hasn't had since Kellogg took the reigns from Travis Ford.

"I think it's a combination of having some older guys and having Chaz helps," Kellogg said. Kellogg has also made wholesale changes to the system. The Dribble Drive is basically history. These guys get out and run more, set screens, toss the ball inside on occasion -- and on the defensive end, they press. It's resulted in more points (the Minutemen are averaging 75.6 points per game) and also forcing mistakes by the opposition (teams are averaging 19 turnovers against UMass).

"We're one of the few teams out there that presses all 40 minutes," Kellogg said. And Kellogg is hoping that it won't be quite so easy to prepare for the Minutemen once league play hits.

"Teams aren't accustomed to it," Kellogg said. UMass goes for its fifth consecutive win Friday night against a Central Connecticut team that may not appear imposing, but it one that crushed the Minutemen last season, 92-63.

"We've still got a ways to go," Kellogg said. "But we're definitely making progress."

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 29, 2011 12:56 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 1:09 pm
 

Ellington's 2-sport schedule this week impressive

By Jeff Goodman

Bruce Ellington is a busy man these days, pulling double-duty at South Carolina. 

The Gamecocks two-sport guy went for a season-high 17 points last night in a win over Wofford, then set the alarm for a 5:30 a.m. flight this morning that took him to Orlando. Then it'll be a few days back at football practice in preparation for the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 2 against Nebraska.

"It's really not that hard doing both," Ellington said. "It hasn't been too crazy. Both coaching staffs have been really good at working with me and my schedule."

And somehow, Ellington has managed to keep his GPA at a 3.19.

Immediately after Monday afternoon's football game, Ellington will jump in the car with his parents and make the six or so-hour drive back to Columbia, S.C. He figures he'll get a few hours of sleep, rejoin the basketball team for the shootaround and suit up on Tuesday night against South Carolina State.

That means the lone game he'll miss due to football is Saturday night against USC Upstate.

"It's been fun," said Ellington, who is averaging 8.1 points in seven games. "It's taken a little time for me to get back in basketball shape, but I think I'm there now."

Ellington will also likely take his starting spot back when he returns. 

"I think we'll be much better after this when we have the entire team together and healthy," Ellington said.

Posted on: December 29, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: December 29, 2011 10:14 am
 

Birch sets record straight, gives school list

By Jeff Goodman

Khem Birch wants to make a couple things clear. 

First of all, he didn't bolt Pittsburgh because he's in a rush to get to the NBA. Second, he didn't leave because of those around him telling him that Jamie Dixon's program wasn't best for him. 

Birch said he left because he wasn't happy at Pittsburgh and didn't feel it was the right fit. The soft-spoken Canadian, who left the Panthers after just 10 games, admitted that he didn't "bond with the players on the team" -- and that the style of play wasn't ultimately one that suits his game in an ideal manner. 

"Coach (Jamie) Dixon is a great coach and a terrific person," Birch told CBSSports.com from his home in Canada. "I just didn't think it was the best place for me." 

The bottom line is that Birch, who was the highest rated recruit in Dixon's tenure, wasn't happy. There are some who felt he should have stuck it out longer, but Birch said that he and his mother decided it was best for him to play elsewhere. 

"I'm not in a rush to get to the NBA," he said "I know I have a lot of work to do." 

Birch reiterated that he wants to go somewhere more up-tempo and a spot where he can develop his four-man skills. "I want to play more four," he said. "That's one of the main reasons I went to Pittsburgh in the first place. I know I don't have the four-man skills yet, but I want to develop them." 

He said that several schools have expressed interest thus far. His early list includes Florida, UNLV, Gonzaga, Washington, Xavier and New Mexico State. Birch is close with fellow Canadian Kevin Pangos at Gonzaga and also developed a friendship with big man Sim Bhullar - who is at New Mexico State. 

"I'm going to try and take a few visits soon," he said. "I just want to make the right decision." 

Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: December 29, 2011 9:42 am
Edited on: December 29, 2011 9:58 am
 

Nebraska difficult enough to win - without issues

By Jeff Goodman


It's difficult enough to win at Nebraska. Then when you toss in the rash of injuries Doc Sadler has experienced, it's darn-near impossible. 

That's exactly what Cornhuskers coach Doc Sadler is dealing with these days. 

Senior big man Andre Almeida is likely done for the season with chronic knee problems. Junior big man Jorge Brian Diaz, who averaged double-figures last season, is dealing with recurring foot issues and sat out the loss to Nebraska earlier in the week. The status of wing Dylan Talley, another projected starter, is up in the air due to a leg injury. 

Take three of your top five or six guys off your team and it's virtually impossible. 

Especially at a spot such as Nebraska. 

This was supposed to be Sadler's best season in Lincoln. The talent level was as high as he's had here, but the margin for error is so slim at a spot such as Nebraska that everything needs to go right for this program to get into the NCAA tournament conversation. 

Instead, it's gone all wrong. 

"I still believe this is our best team," Sadler said. "That we can get in the top six, but we've just got to get some guys back. We don't have the depth to withstand this." 

Sadler is visibly frustrated with the rash of injuries, and it's especially difficult since it's the program's inaugural season in the Big Ten. The team played with a ranked Wisconsin team for the first 20 minutes before the Badgers pulled away for a 64-40 victory in Nebraska's Big Ten debut. 

Sadler just doesn't have enough bullets. He's is a terrific coach. You won't get an argument from any of his peers about that fact. But again, it's difficult at Nebraska -- where football rules supreme and the in-state recruiting base for basketball prospects is lackluster. 

At least now Sadler doesn't have to make excuses for his facilities any longer. 

The new practice facility stacks up against any throughout the country -- and the locker rooms are superior to anything I've seen. 

Sadler is cautiously optimistic that Diaz and Talley can return sometime soon, but he honestly isn't certain when they'll get back onto the court. He could use them sooner rather than later, especially with the brutal league slate that awaits. 

Michigan State is up next at home on Saturday, then road contests against Ohio State and Illinois follow. Finally the Cornhuskers will be favored in a game against Penn State on Jan. 11, but then Sadler & Co. head to Wisconsin and then host Indiana and Ohio State. 

If you're counting, that's seven of the first eight league games against ranked opponents. 

Welcome to the Big Ten. 

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