Posted on: December 8, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 2:10 pm

Dayton's Archie Miller mature beyond years

By Jeff Goodman

The first thing nearly every new head coach says after taking a job is say how he "needs to change the culture." It's almost a rite of passage within the coaching carousel.

"These guys had a great culture," Dayton coach Archie Miller said Thursday afternoon, just hours after his team pulled the upset over a ranked Alabama team.

Does Miller admit he needs to increase the talent in the program? Sure. Add depth on the frontline? Absolutely.

But the culture?

"These guys go to class, come to practice and work hard," Miller said. "Do I believe in everything from A to Z the way they've done things? No, but give Brian Gregory and his staff credit. They did a great job establishing a culture here."

That's maturity, coming from a guy who just turned 33 on October 30.

Want more?

"The key to this team is how they handle success and adversity at the same time," Miller said. "It's a delicate balance."

What Miller, the younger brother of Arizona coach Sean Miller is referring to is the fact that this is a team that has dealt with the challenge of winning the Old Spice Classic down in Orlando only to follow it up with a pair of blowout losses to Murray State and Buffalo. Then came the victory over the Crimson Tide on Wednesday.

"We'll be up and down a little bit," Miller said. "That's because of who are are as a team. ... We have some good players and really good kids, but at the end of the day, we have holes."

And it'll take time for the holdovers, who played for a rigid coach in Gregory who called no shortage of sets, to learn to play with more freedom.

"It's been an adjustment at times," Miller admitted.

Chris Johnson and Southern Illinois transfer Kevin Dillard both bounced back from dismal performances against Murray State and were terrific in the win over Alabama, but the truth is that this team is a star away from being a true contender in the A-10. Sure, the Flyers could well finish somewhere in the Top 4 or 5 in the league this season - especially with a rising star in Miller at the helm.

Dayton has already knocked off three teams from the Power 6 leagues: Minnesota, Wake Forest and now Alabama. The Flyers also took care of Fairfield, one of the better mid-major teams in the country this season, down in Orlando.

Sean Miller deserves a ton of credit -- and is receiving plenty -- for what he's done down in Tucson, but his younger brother may not be far behind.

Photo: Getty Images
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 2:42 pm

Temple's Scootie Randall expected back in Dec.

By Jeff Goodman

Temple coach Fran Dunphy is optimistic that Scootie Randall is expected to return sometime in early December.

"He's such a voice for us - especially on the defensive end," Dunphy told CBSSports.com.

Randall tore his meniscus in the summer and is in the midst of the rehab process.

"He's doing well, but the doctors are being cautious," Dunphy said. "It'll be a couple of weeks before we have him. ... He's a big part of our chemistry and is a glue guy."

The 6-foot-6 senior averaged 10.7 points per game and shot 37 percent from beyond the arc. His spot will be filled by Khalif Wyatt.

Dunhpy's concern appears to be on the defensive end to start the season - as he'll be without Randall and also graduated senior big man Lavoy Allen.

"He was so good defensively in terms of positioning," Dunphy said of Allen.

Dunphy said that 6-foot-11 veteran Micheal Eric will likely play about 28-30 minutes up front and 6-foot-9 redshirt freshman Anthony Lee should get plenty of time as well.

The team will be anchored by its backcourt of Juan Fernanez and Ramone Moore - which combined to average 26.4 points last season.

Temple doesn't open with a cupcake, either. The Owls play Dunphy's former team, Penn, in the Palestra on Nov. 14.

- Dunphy shaved off his mustache on Oct. 6 to honor ex-player Dionte Christmas - who earned his degree. Now he's growing it back as part of "Movember" - a cancer awareness fundraising campaign. "I've got it growing back," he said. "I'm a week in - and it doesn't look too sporty. I've got a face for radio, anyway."
Posted on: November 1, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: November 1, 2011 11:54 am

Report: Creator of Dribble Drive leaving UMass

By Jeff Goodman

The creator of the Dribble Drive is leaving UMass.

Vance Walberg, who was brought on by Derek Kellogg shortly after he got the job three years ago, will be leaving the staff.

At least that's the case, according to Matt Vatour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette. 

Kellogg told CBSSports.com a couple weeks ago that he was going to cut down on the amount of the Dribble Drive this season - and that may have played into the decision.

Walberg was the head coach at Clovis West, Fresno City College and also had a brief stint as the head coach at Pepperdine, where he was 14-35 in two years.

His offense became renowned largely due to the success of John Calipari - who implemented it while at Memphis.
Posted on: October 28, 2011 10:25 am
Edited on: October 28, 2011 10:38 am

Preseason Tour: Thoughts from Xavier

By Jeff Goodman

Now that I've returned home and had an opportunity to catch my breathe from my Preseason Tour, I'll try and run through my thoughts from each practice I attended. I've already done so for North Carolina, Duke, Ohio State and Cincinnati:

Here are my thoughts and observations from Xavier (photo is of Mack's leg, which has a Shaq-style tattoo. Judge him for this beyond anything else): 

1) Just love the chip on their shoulder that many of the guys carry around with them. It starts with Tu Holloway and goes to his backcourt mate, Mark "Cheeks" Lyons - and continues to a guy like Monmouth transfer Travis Taylor. This is a team full of guys who were passed over by the elite programs in America - and they are and have been on a mission to prove people wrong. Even though Holloway is on many Preseason All-American lists, he still feels as though people don't truly respect him for his abilities. "I think they put me on there because of my numbers and because they have to put someone on our team on there because we're supposed to be good," he said.

2) If you don't know it by now, I'm in love with Taylor already. He's 6-foot-7 and some change, 220 pounds and just goes hard every possession. He's relentless, brings a toughness to the table and I love the way he fights for position in the post. He'll be the ideal power forward for Chris Mack because he'll do a ton of the dirty work - and can finish in the paint.

3) Holloway may have averaged 20-plus points a year ago, but he'll show the country that he's actually a pass-first point guard. That's what he's always been, but a year ago Mack and the Musketeers needed him to be a scorer. This year, with the maturity of Lyons, the addition of Taylor and freshman Dez Wells and the return of Brad Redford, he won't have to score as much. He can make his teammates better - which is honestly what he does best. "It won't be me leading this team in scoring most games," Holloway said.

4) Xavier's season may depend on whether big man Kenny Frease - a monster down low and a potential pro - falls victim to the good old Knucklehead Rule. He has already been suspended (and since reinstated). Frease needs to get his act together - and keep it together - or else Xavier doesn't stand a chance of going deep into the NCAA tournament. The Musketeers don't have a true backup center, so the loss of Frease would be a crushing blow.

5) You won't find five more deadly "pure" shooters than Redford, who missed the season last year due to a knee injury. Redford is fairly one-dimensional as a perimeter shooter, but it's a dimension that Xavier could sorely utilize. Put Redford around Holloway, Lyons, Frease and Taylor and teams will have to pick their poison - and leaving Redford open from long distance wouldn't be a wise move. "He's the best shooter I've ever seen," Holloway said.

6) Xavier's non-conference slate is as much of a buzzsaw as any program in the entire country. I've ranked the Top 50 overall games of the season and the Musketeers are represented a half-dozen times - including five in the non-league slate. There are home games against Gonzaga and Cincinnati and road contests at Memphis, Vanderbilt and Butler.

7) Lyons has matured and if it continues Xavier's backcourt may be able to match up with just about anyone. "He was so wild when he got here," Holloway said of his backcourt mate. "But he's calmed down - and has slowed the game down. ... He's more talented than I am." Lyons said it's been an adjustment for him because Holloway has the ball in his hands much of the time - and prior to college, that was always Lyons' role. He worked on jump stops and pull-ups this summer so he can add the mid-range dimensional to his game - which has always been either a long jumper or going all the way to the rim - with authority.

8) I was one of the biggest critics of Justin Martin's attitude and body language back when he was in high school, but it appears as though he's made significant strides in that area. Martin is talented. He's long and can really shoot the ball. The year sitting out as a non-qualifying freshman last season may have been the best thing that could have happened to him.

9) Dee Davis will be a quality backup point guard who can come in and allow Holloway to stay fresh when it matters later in the year. Davis is a pure point guard from Indiana who doesn't back down - despite his small stature- and a guy who can really pass the ball.

10) With the added depth that he didn't have last year, Mack has been able to play Holloway and Lyons against one another in practice this year. A year ago, with virtually no backcourt depth, they always played with each other in practice. Now they get a chance to push one another in practice due to guys like Davis, Wells and Redford.

11) I'm not sure any team in America will feature a more potent trio of trash-talkers than Holloway, Lyons and Taylor. It'll be an issue that Mack need to address at some point, but there's also the school of thought that he doesn't want to reel them in too much and take away that swagger and toughness. "We're straight tough," Lyons said.

12) Holloway and Lyons will receive plenty of attention for their offensive performances this season, but both are guys who play both ends of the court - and can be all-league guys on the defensive end. Holloway is already terrific defensively while Lyons can be even better due to his athleticism.

13) Vanderbilt one-year transfer Andre Walker was a terrific pickup for Xavier. He's a low-maintenance guy who just knows how to play. I'm not sure he'll wind up starting over Taylor, but he'll play a good amount because he doesn't make mistakes and also makes his teammates better.

14) I'm admittedly a fan of Mack and his brash, forthcoming attitude off the court. However, I'm also a believer of his as a coach - despite the fact that he's just a couple years into his tenure. However, this will be a major challenge for Mack with high expectations, a brutal schedule and some high-maintenance personalities on his roster.

15) I'm sticking with my prediction from a few weeks ago that this Xavier team will go to the Final Four - especially after seeing them in practice. "We want to do something no one else in school history has done," Lyons said. "Final Four. My teammates say Final Four - I say championship." Bold, but I like it.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 10:13 am

Frease won't participate in Musketeer Madness

By Jeff Goodman

Xavier's suspended big man Kenny Frease will not participate in Musketeer Madness tomorrow, but could be reinstated soon.

"Kenny didn't do anything egregious," Xavier coach Chris Mack told CBSSports.com. "If he does what he needs to, he'll rejoin us sooner rather than later."

Mack suspended the senior earlier this month for "not fulfilling all the responsibilities of a Xavier basketball player."

While the rest of his teammates practice, Frease has been in the weight room or doing conditioning.

Frease averaged 11.7 points and 7.1 rebounds last season and his maturity - or lack thereof - could be critical to the team's success this season.

"Kenny has proven he's a formidable center," Mack said. "He's big and is as tough to deal with as just about any player in the country at his position."

Xavier needs Frease and it's clear from talking to Mack and team leader Tu Holloway that there's frustration regarding the big man's recent lack of commitment.

"He needs to change his behavior and habits to reflect what we want at Xavier," Mack said. "He won't play on Saturday and then we'll re-evaluate his status."
Posted on: October 20, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: October 20, 2011 10:46 am

Xavier mystery, Travis Taylor, won't stay secret

By Jeff Goodman

CINCINNATI - No one knows Travis Taylor.

OK, maybe that's a stretch. However, Xavier's junior forward - sat out last season after transferring from Monmouth - is a complete mystery.

Sure, there were other schools that went after the 6-foot-7, 220-pound New Jersey native when he opted to take his 17.8 points and 7.6 boards out of the Northeast Conference.

Boston College, Temple, Miami and Arizona State were just a few.

But transfers - just like high school seniors who wait out their recruitment - are almost always recruited at a higher level than should be the case.

Not Taylor.

He's literally become the "X" factor for Chris Mack and the Musketeers.

Already regarded as a program built on toughness and guys with a chip on their shoulder, Taylor could be the poster child for Xavier basketball.

He didn't start playing organized basketball until his junior year of high school. Taylor had a bunch of Division 2 offers before Monmouth came in late.

I'd be surprised if Taylor doesn't start at power forward from Day One for Mack. His game is awkward, but he's a big-time athlete who possesses a relentless work ethic on the court.

"I'm a gnat around the rim," Taylor said of his game. "I just never stop."

"He's going to make a real impact," said Xavier star guard Tu Holloway. "He brings a warrior mentality - which is something we need."

"Since I've been here, we haven't had anyone like him up front," added Mark Lyons, Holloway's backcourt mate.

Taylor, who shed the dreadlocks he sported while at Monmouth, said he isn't concerned about winning a starting spot on a team that has no shortage of depth and talent. That what matters to him is winning.

Xavier could do plenty of that with the veteran backcourt of Holloway and Lyons, freshman Dez Wells, Taylor and big man Kenny Frease (as long as he gets his act together).
Posted on: October 12, 2011 11:13 am

UMass' Kellogg finally has a point guard

By Jeff Goodman

It was the brainchild of Boston University's Scott Ellis. All six Massachusetts D-1 men's basketball programs together for a media day.

Since I already went by Boston College last week and wrote a story on Steve Donahue's young Eagles, I will try and touch on the other five schools in the area over the next couple of days.

We'll start with Derek Kellogg's UMass Minutemen:

BOSTON - Derek Kellogg knows better than most how difficult a challenge it is to win without a point guard.

The UMass coach - and former Minuteman point guard - hasn't had one over the past couple of seasons and it's been a key for why the team has struggled.

But now he has one in Hofstra transfer Chaz Williams.

"He's a typical New York point guard," Kellogg said. "He'll be our guy."

The first season Kellogg took over he inherited Chris Lowe, who had difficulty making the transition from Travis Ford's system. Then it was Ricky Harris, who was essentially a two-guard forced to run the team - and last season it was supposed to be Darryl Traynham, who was kicked off the team midway through the year.

"It's been a tough situation for us," Kellogg said.

But Kellogg expects Williams to finally solidify the position.

"He's done it at the college level," he said. "And he's already established himself as a leader. He's got plenty of charisma."

The 5-foot-9 Williams averaged 7.1 points and 4.2 assists as a freshman at Hofstra before transferring to UMass following a coaching change.

"I'm working with him to pick his spots," Kellogg said. "He can score, but I need him to make life easier for his teammates."

Kellogg said he's seen signs of maturity from a group that came in two years ago as freshmen. With their experience, he said he'll press more this season and also play more up-tempo, use more ball screens and utilize less of assistant coach Vance Walberg's Dribble Drive.

"We have older guys now and have depth," Kellogg said. "We have long, athletic guys and a fast point guard."

One of the players that Kellogg expects more from is extremely long and talented 6-foot-9, 175-pound redshirt sophomore Raphiael Putney.

Putney redshirted his freshman season and averaged 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 12.7 minutes last season.

"His body's still not there," Kellogg said. "But mentally he's stronger and tougher. He plays with a little bit of an edge now."

- Kellogg also said that 6-foot-9, 245-pound Cady Lalanne broke his foot, but should be back on the court in about 10 days. Lalanne is a former Georgia signee who didn't qualify to play for the Bulldogs.
Posted on: September 28, 2011 2:38 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 2:43 pm

Brooklyn native Baron excited of A10 tourney move

By Jeff Goodman

Jim Baron grew up is the Cooper Park Houses, a Brooklyn project about 15 minutes away from the new Barclays Center.

No one was happier when hearing of the A-10 conference tournament moving to Brooklyn than Rhode Island's head coach.

"It's great," Baron said. "I still can't believe it. It's a big-time arena and it'll allow a lot of synergy - not only for us."

Baron spoke glowingly of the facility and how this move can help the league in every regard, attracting more alumni due to the New York attractions and also taking advantage from a recruiting standpoint.

Baron also knows the move from Atlantic City, N.J., to Brooklyn will also help in terms of media exposure.

He also offered to buy me a token so I could get on the train and make the short trek from the Big East tournament to the A-10.

I'm sure I won't be alone in terms of media members who try and pull double-duty between the two league tournaments.

"It's a great move," Baron added. "Especially to do it for five years. That gives us continuity and the ability to establish ourselves and establish the league."

The five-year deal was huge for the league because now it'll make it difficult for both the Big East and ACC to both house their league tournaments in New York City - which was one scenario being bandied about.

"I grew up in the projects in Brooklyn," Baron said. "The area has had a complete resurgence. The area I grew up in is yuppies and high-rises now."

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