Posted on: January 13, 2012 12:05 am
Edited on: January 13, 2012 1:06 am

Night Court: Home losses are the common theme

By Jeff Borzello

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

Game of the day: Looks like the MAAC is not going to be a cakewalk for Iona this season. The Gaels welcomed Manhattan into town and dominated for the first 32 minutes or so, leading by 17 with 7:58 remaining. Then the Jaspers turned on a switch and outscored Iona by 20 in the final eight minutes – capped by Emmy Andjuar’s banked-in 3 at the buzzer to give Manhattan a 75-72 victory. Go check out the video above.

Win to brag about: Wisconsin needed a win badly against Purdue – and the Badgers held off the Boilermakers for a 67-62 win. It was Purdue’s first home loss since Feb. 28, 2010. Wisconsin jumped out to a 22-4 lead on the strength of five 3-pointers, but Purdue slowly came back in the game, spurred by a nice offensive game from guard Terone Johnson. For a team that has struggled to provide secondary options to Jordan Taylor, getting five guys in double-figures was key for Wisconsin.

Win to brag about, Vol. 2: Saint Mary's continues to send a message to the rest of the WCC. After dominating BYU two weeks ago, the Gaels handled Gonzaga on Thursday night, 83-62. Potential league player of the year Rob Jones didn't score until there was 1:39 left in the game, although he grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out eight assists. Matthew Dellavedova was an absolute stud, hit several clutch 3-pointers and finishing with 26 points. The hero might have been freshman Brad Waldow, who came out of nowhere to rack up 17 points and nine rebounds. Will Gonzaga and BYU protect their respective homecourts the way Saint Mary's has done in Moraga? 

Loss to hide from: Minnesota isn’t a bad team by any stretch, but the Golden Gophers were 0-4 in the Big Ten going into Thursday night. On the other hand, Indiana had already beaten Kentucky and Ohio State at home so far this season. So what happened? Minnesota grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and forced 15 turnovers en route to a 77-74 victory. Indiana couldn’t get its shooting going, knocking down just 4-of-22 from 3-point range.

Player who deserves improper benefits: In a battle for first place in the Big South, UNC-Asheville overcame a 17-point deficit to beat Campbell. The Bulldogs improved to 6-0 in the conference behind a tremendous all-around performance from guard Matt Dickey. The senior had 19 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and two steals for UNCA.

Player(s) who does not deserve improper benefits: George Mason’s Ryan Pearson came into Thursday averaging 18.2 points per game. Against Drexel, Pearson shot just 1-for-9 from the field and finished with two points as George Mason suffered its first conference loss of the season. Pearson did grab 11 rebounds, but the Patriots needed his offense – and didn’t get it. 

Numbers don’t lie:

  • 6: Since Wes Miller took over as interim head coach for UNC-Greensboro, he had suffered six straight losses. He picked up his first win on Thursday at Charleston.
  • 47: That’s the combined number of free throws Robert Morris and Quinnipaic made on Thursday. Quinnipiac won, 78-76.
  • 6-for-26: That’s what Stanford and Utah shot from the free-throw line -- the worst combined percentage in a decade.
  • 16: That’s the number of assists Scott Machado dished out for Iona in its last-second loss to Manhattan.

Three other notable results:

  1. Virginia went 0-for-11 from 3-point range in the second half against Duke, but still had a chance to send the game into overtime. But Mike Scott and Jontel Evans both missed, giving Duke a 61-58 win. Despite the loss, Virginia is for real.
  2. Dee Bost stole the ball from Trae Golden in the final seconds and went the other way for a dunk to clinch Mississippi State’s 62-58 win over Tennessee.
  3. Murray State stayed undefeated by beating Jacksonville State, 66-55. 


More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: January 12, 2012 10:29 am

Which program boasts most NBA players?

By Matt Norlander

OK, so take your guess. Which college program do you think has the most representation at the NBA level right now?

What jumps to mind? North Carolina’s superb lineage? You know Ben Howland had all those pros at UCLA in the past seven years. What about UConn? It’s always got a few future millionaires wearing its threads for a year or two.

The answer’s actually …

Duke: just plain more athletic and more talented than anyone else. (US PRESSWIRE)

Duke. It’s ironic at face value, since the joke’s always been something to do with Duke’s players always being so great at the college level and amounting to nothing beyond that. But Duke’s been consistently getting guys into the Association.

You want to know how Mike Krzyzewski’s really keeping his program at the top? Well, winning that 2010 title helps, but just as importantly, he can walk into any recruit's home, flash those four rings, and also proclaim he’s putting more guys into the NBA than John Calipari, Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim, Bill Donovan and Jim Calhoun. Most wouldn't think that was the case. Until I came upon this information, I would've maybe put Duke in the top five; certainly not atop the list.

According to rosters listed on the NBA official website as of the season-openers on Christmas Day, here’s who is sending the most players to David Stern's empire.

1. Duke, 17
2. UCLA, 15
    Kentucky, 15
4. Texas, 13
    Connecticut, 13
6. North Carolina, 12
    Kansas, 12
8. Arizona, 10
    Florida, 10

Credit for this information goes to the Arizona sports information department, which sent me a notice that this was the 12th straight season the NBA’s employed at least eight former Arizona players.  As for conference play? Yeah, let's throw out some more ammo for the ACC honks, who can rightfully proclaim their league brings in the most elite talent -- by a wide margin.

1. Atlantic Coast, 62
2. Pac-12, 53
3. Big East, 49
4. Southeastern, 45
5. Big 12, 40
6. Big Ten, 25

Some think these facts mean little, but that's not the case. Here's how it boils. What's a coach's job? Win games. How do you win games? You get the best players possible. How do you do that? What are the best players thinking about? When it's not their next meal or girls, they're daydreaming about playing in the NBA. And at the heart of it all, a coach who puts players into the NBA dangles the biggest carrot in the garden.

The names on that list aren't surprising, and they're not going to change. Winning titles doesn't go hand in hand with elite talent, but keeping your program at the forefront of college basketball does.
Posted on: January 9, 2012 10:20 am

Podcast: The MWC can no longer be undervalued

By Matt Norlander

We can't turn our heads anymore. The Pac-12 is miserably bad, perhaps continuing in the worst season in its existence -- that dates back to when it was the Pac-8 and the Pac-10. What's the reason for this? Is it doomed to become a one-bid league? The Dagger's Jeff Eisenberg says no, even if you want to upchuck your dinner just following this league.

Today's 'cast isn't all negative, though. Jeff and I also give our top five non-BCS teams, waxing on the Mountain West in the process. The MWC could be the fourth-best league in the nation. Let's start talking about that over peanut butter and crackers.

On to the podcast:
  • From the beginning: Banter before the basketball.
  • 1:15: Addressing, examining and a lack of mockery -- but heavy pity -- for the Pac-12. What the biggest story lines with the league right now?
  • 4:26: How'd the Pac-12 get to this point? How'd a Big Six conference become so laughable?
  • 9:27: How many bids is this league setting up to get? Calling it a one-bid conference is easy, and understandable, but by March, two teams getting in seems likely.
  • 12:30: Moving on to the Mountain West -- the fourth-best conference in the country. Believe it, fools!
  • 16:04: Eisenberg's top five non-BCS teams. Xavier makes it. Fo' real.
  • 22:06: We get to this point of the year, there's always a team or two who's undervalued despite playing well. We give our picks.
  • 24:55: Louisville, Missouri, Florida and UConn all fell Saturday. Top 15 teams. Which one will wind up playing the worst the rest of the way?

Continued thanks from me to you for keep coming back and listening. Please: spread the word. Hoops season is ramping up, and I'd love more hate mail. Spread this page and the iTunes subscription link to anyone you'd think would like this sort of think. We post three times per week, with the Wednesday show being a low-rent sitcom wannabe of a half hour, thanks to CBSSports.com national writers Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman Skyping in their opinions. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.

Get CBSSports.com College Basketball updates on Facebook   

Posted on: December 19, 2011 9:22 am
Edited on: December 19, 2011 9:33 am

Easy to confuse Pac-12 with a mid-major league

By Jeff Goodman

There's no East Coast bias here. The Pac-12 stinks. Plain and simple. 

"No excuses," one head coach in the league texted me. "You're right." 

There's truly no defense for what's gone on out west thus far. The league has been absolutely manhandled. 

Sunday was just another day in the park for the Pac-12, one that saw South Dakota State pummel Washington in Seattle and then watched Virginia go out to Oregon and take care of the Ducks. 

A day prior, there was no shame in Gonzaga working over Arizona in Seattle. But what about Northern Arizona - with a 70-year-old interim head coach -- knocking off Herb Sendek's Arizona State Sun Devils?  Or Georgia going west and beating USC at the Galen Center?

The league doesn't have a single victory against a Top 25 team. In fact, it's nearly impossible to find the most impressive win notched by anyone in the league. It's been so pitiful that a case can be made for Oregon State's come-from-behind win in New Jersey against a young Texas team as the flagship win for the Pac-12 thus far. 

This could be a two-bid league. Probably should be a two-bid league. 

We thought, entering the season, there were four teams that were capable of making a legitimate run to the NCAA tournament. Maybe even a handful - if you want to include an Oregon team that was thrown together due to desperation. 

UCLA appeared formidable on paper, but we quickly learned that one player can truly wreck a season (see: Reeves Nelson). Arizona isn't nearly as talented as some thought, especially with talented freshman Josiah Turner refusing to buy into Sean Miller's approach early in the season. 

Oregon's Dana Altman has already lost his top freshman, Jabari Brown, and is now reliant on a bunch of second-chance guys (i.e. Devoe Joseph, Tony Woods) and Washington, the most talented team in the league, earned its most impressive win against UC Santa Barbara. California was blasted by Missouri and also lost on the road to what everyone figured was a rebuilding San Diego State club. 

Stanford has been the most impressive team in the league thus far with a 9-1 record, but the Cardinal still hasn't notched a victory against an NCAA tourney team. The loss was impressive, against top-ranked Syracuse in New York, but the most significant wins have come against N.C. State and Oklahoma State - a pair of teams likely headed to the NIT. 

Don't even get me started on teams like Arizona State (4-6), Washington State (which lost to UC Riverside), USC (which already has seven losses), Colorado (which has lost to Wyoming and Colorado State) and a dismal Utah team. None will even be on the bubble for the CBI or CollegeInsider.com. 

Listen, I want to defend the Pac-12. I graduated from a school in the league. 

But I'd lose all credibility in doing so. 

The league is currently ranked ninth in the RPI, behind the A-10 and Missouri Valley and barely in front of the WCC and C-USA.  

However, if there's one positive spin I can put on the Pac-12's misery, it's the fact that this league is up for grabs, a complete toss-up right now. It's difficult to imagine a scenario in which the regular-season champ doesn't get an at -large bid to go dancing - and obviously, the tourney winner gets an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. 

That means everyone in the league still has a shot. 

Well, maybe not quite everyone.

Posted on: November 21, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 8:07 pm

The Poll Attacks

By Gary Parrish

Can Washington lose at Saint Louis and move up five spots on a ballot?

Yes, apparently.

But it's a stupid ballot.

Let's do some Poll Attacks.

Associated Press poll: Did you watch any of the Coaches vs. Cancer event last week?

I did.

Good stuff.

But guess who didn't?

Answer: Future Poll Attacks Hall of Famer Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News.

How else to explain his ballot?

Mississippi State beat Texas A&M by nine points and Arizona by 10 on consecutive nights to win the CVC. The Bulldogs looked good in the event; Arizona and A&M didn't. But you wouldn't know that from Scott's ballot. He's got Arizona ranked higher than any other AP voter, all the way up at No. 11. And he's got Texas A&M ranked 25th.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs?

They remain unranked on his ballot.

But there's always next week, I guess.

Another interesting ballot -- actually, this one is much more interesting -- belongs to Kevin Dunleavy of the Washington Examiner. He's got Washington ranked 14th even though the Huskies were considered nothing more than a fringe Top 25 team last week -- back before they lost by 13 points at Saint Louis on Sunday. And that's not even the craziest part. The craziest part is that Kevin had Washington ranked 19th last week, which means he moved the Huskies up five spots after a double-digit loss to Saint Louis. Seriously. That really happened. Swear to God.

(Kevin has SLU unranked, by the way. So he moved Washington up five spots to No. 14 after losing to Saint Louis but kept Saint Louis unranked. If anybody wants to try to explain this, I can be reached at cbsparrish@gmail.com.)

Coaches poll: My biggest pet peeve when it comes to rankings is when teams drop in polls following close road losses to higher-ranked teams. I mean, how does that make any sense? If you're ranked eighth you are, by definition, supposed to lose a road game to a school ranked third. And if you lose that road game in competitive fashion, it doesn't mean you shouldn't be ranked eighth. In fact, in some cases, it might mean you should be ranked higher. But under no circumstances should you be punished for losing a close game on the road to a higher-ranked team.

And yet that's exactly what happened to Florida.

The Gators were ranked eighth last week.

They lost 81-74 at No. 3 Ohio State.

And now they're ranked ninth.

Again, the Gators were dropped for losing a close game to a higher-ranked team on the road.

Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

Also dumb: Texas getting 31 points. The Longhorns are 2-1 with a loss to Oregon State. They might be good when all those freshmen grow up, but they're not Top-25 worthy right now.

Also also dumb: Jackson State coach Tevester Anderson voted Ohio State No. 1 last week. He then lost to the Buckeyes by 44 points on Friday. He then dropped them from the top spot on his ballot on Monday. Would a 50-point win have been enough to keep OSU No. 1 on Anderson's ballot? What about 60? Or 90?
Posted on: November 19, 2011 10:54 am
Edited on: November 19, 2011 11:03 am

Arizona freshman Turner admits growing pains

By Jeff Goodman

The first step is admitting it.

That's what Arizona's talented freshman Josiah Turner did to some of his teammates last week.

"He apologized to me," Arizona veteran guard Kyle Fogg said. "It meant a lot to me."

"I wasn't working hard," Turner said after Friday night's loss to Mississippi State in New York. "I had a nonchalant attitude."

Then Arizona coach Sean Miller benched him - for an entire game.

"It wasn't so much that it was embarrassing," Turner said. "It gave me a mindset that I needed to start working harder. It was a wake-up call."

Turner played well in spurts on Thursday and Friday night at Madison Square Garden. It's clear that he'll have some growing pains - and even Turner, a highly touted point guard - understands that now.

"The transition is more difficult than I thought it would be to be honest," Turner said. "I think I've been humbled, but I also think I'm starting to get used to it."

This Arizona team is not a Top 25 ballclub right now. Not with Kevin Parrom at less than 100 percent - and not with Turner looking like, well, an ordinary freshman.

Turner logged 17 minutes on Friday night and while his numbers were mediocre (eight points, two assists, two rebounds), he played with more poise than he had all season - and made fewer mistakes.

"I think it's just going to take time," Turner said.

For Turner - and for Arizona.
Posted on: November 18, 2011 10:31 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 10:42 pm

Arizona is the good and bad of Pac-12 this year

By Matt Norlander

NEW YORK — If this is supposed to be the Pac-12's third-best team, then the conference needs to prepare for another down year.

Those in the league and fans of it knew this wouldn't be another banner season in the Pac-12, but for as much as No. 15 Arizona has to grow, who knows how much depth -- and more importantly, good basketball -- we're going to see out West. Again.

It goes Washington and Cal, pick whichever you'd like atop the league, then Arizona. And the Wildcats aren't a top-30 team as they are right now. UCLA probably comes next, but it's got its issues to sort out. You think the Bruins or Wildcats are sure-fire reliable teams, worthy of rankings right now? You know they're not.

I'm not saying the Pac-12's only going to send three teams to The Dance this year, but there's a good chance it won't crack four. Arizona could represent the fracture line in this league. And it got outplayed by a muscular, talented and extremely flawed team -- that didn't play incredibly well -- Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Bulldogs won the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer, 67-57. But let's keep our focus here on Arizona, which is an overrated team right now (well, maybe not after tonight) that lacks a star and a semblance of what it can be. It will likely get better, but this is not looking like an elite group. It's yet to crack 60 twice already this season; that happened three times total (and came consecutively) last season.

Arizona was held to eight field goals in the second half. It had myriad opportunities to tip the boat against MSU, but "could never get that big shot we needed," Wildcats head coach Sean Miller said, adding, “they had the tempo right where they wanted it."

Miller also said the team has no identity yet (I'd venture about 80 percent of college basketball could say the same right now), but they're building. Losing No. 2 NBA draft pick Derrick Williams will do that to a club. Miller credited Mississippi State. He liked the opportunity and learned more about his team. I think he knows this groups limits. He's got faith, but he didn't push out platitudes like other coaches tend to do once they saunter into the press room and flip to cruise control.

“If you watched us last night, you saw the good of Arizona, what we can be in a positive light," Miller said. "Tonight, you can see what we have to get better at. Playing against a big, physical team, we have to do a better job defensively and playing against a tempo like that — it slowed us down as well.”

Arizona's bigs didn't take control (would you expect them to) against Mississippi State's Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney(who had a bad left hand and really didn't do all that much), two players with a high chance of one day being drafted into the NBA.

“They made it harder to score around the rim — but we weren’t aggressive coming out of the start, and they took over from the beginning,” Perry said.

You'd figure Arizona would want to, and later admit, to have some tenacity early on. But it wasn't there. The good news: the Wildcats aren't going to have many foes this season that can offer the type of beef and immovability down low that the Bulldogs employ. 

“The biggest thing we had a hard time doing today is getting to the foul line,” Miller said. “Their length and size did a good job keeping us off the line, which is a big part of our offense. It’s the difference in our offense.”

I think the turnaround for the Wildcats was also an issue. The team's not ready to adapt to drastically different teams on back-to-back nights.

“You play against St. John’,” said Miller, “it’s such a frenetic, zone-oriented game. And the next day you’re playing against a slow-tempoed , half-court, tough, man-to-man team. That was a change we didn’t handle well today. ... When the ball got down low, Moultrie was better than our guys."

Here's what Miller's taking from the game -- a loss that should look OK come March. Unless Mississippi State has another implosion, it's going to the NCAA tournament. Arizona got beat, but if it minimizes the losses, this one will look good in comparison to what other top-40 BCS teams have right now.

“At the end of the day, you want to have quality wins and you look back sometimes and say, ‘That was a really good game for us to play,’” Miller said.

One last thing -- I did get Miller one-on-one and wanted him to share what his thoughts on recently embattled freshman guard Josiah Turner were. Here's what he said:

“Josiah’s moving in the right direction,” he said. “With some players it doesn’t always happen in the first three or four weeks of the year. Where are team’s going to be eight weeks from now, or four weeks from now, will have a lot of similarities. He’s going to learn, like all of our freshmen, how to handle the highs and lows of the game.”

Growing process, you know how this time of year goes. Seeing Arizona up close, it looks like there's a lot of growing to do, and it'd be best if we adjusted our perspective on this team -- sort of in the opposite way from last year, when 'Zona took most of us by surprise.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 18, 2011 2:01 am

Parrom's homecoming about more than basketball

Jeff Borzello

NEW YORK – The return of Kevin Parrom to New York City was circled on his mother’s calendar for a long time.

“She was trying to stay alive to see him play at the Garden,” Kenneth Parrom, Kevin’s father, told CBSSports.com on Wednesday.

Lisa Williams wasn’t in the stands on Thursday night. But her son was on the court, helping lead Arizona to an 81-72 victory over St. John’s at Madison Square Garden. The New York native came off the bench to score six points and dish out five assists.

Against the Red Storm, though, basketball was secondary to Parrom and his family.

Two months ago, Parrom was shot twice while he was in New York visiting his mother in the hospital. He’s still not 100 percent done with his recovery from the gunshot wounds in his right leg and left hand.

Only three weeks after Parrom was shot, the news worsened. Williams, who had been battling cancer for two years, passed away on the night of October 16. 

“I have never been around a young person who has dealt with more hardship in such a short period of time than Kevin,” head coach Sean Miller said in a statement at the time.

Naturally, Parrom’s homecoming ran the gauntlet of feelings.

“I had all types of emotions,” he said. “It felt great, being back home. But I was sad before the game. I had to put that aside to try to concentrate on today’s game and that’s what I did.”

While he didn’t start the game, every time Parrom entered the game or made a play, the crowd erupted. Arizona has other New York natives on its roster, but the cheers and excitement was clearly for Parrom.

Dozens of family and friends were in the stands to support Parrom on his trip back home.

“I had a lot [of people],” he said. “I had the same type of applause as back in Tucson.”

Although it was technically a road game for Arizona, the crowd support for Parrom essentially evened out the St. John’s advantage.

That type of backing showed why Parrom was so excited to come back home and play in front of his fans.

“I’m a New York kid,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to play in the Garden?”

Heading into the season, Arizona’s freshmen backcourt of Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner received most of the attention nationally. However, when it mattered, Miller turned to Parrom and four other veterans to help turn the game around, and then close the victory down the stretch.

It won’t show up in the stat sheet, but Parrom – even when he’s not 100 percent – was a huge key for the Wildcats against the Red Storm.

“I can’t understate the importance of Kevin Parrom,” Miller said. “Without him, we’re not really the same team.”

After the game, Parrom was more reserved than usual but it was clear the range of emotions he experienced throughout the day was finally hitting him.

“Words can’t even describe how I’m feeling.”

Photo: US Presswire

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