Tag:Jeff Borzello
Posted on: November 11, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 3:17 pm

Oklahoma placed on three years' probation

By Jeff Borzello

This is the last thing the Oklahoma basketball program needed heading into another rebuilding season.

The NCAA announced on Friday afternoon that the Sooners have been placed on three years of probation and issued a $15,000 fine for violations in the basketball program.

The Division I infractions committee vacated all 13 wins from Oklahoma’s 09-10 season, removed a scholarship and also placed limitations on its recruiting.

The punishment stems from former assistant coach Oronde Taliaferro failing to report that a player received an extra benefit, lying to investigators in the process.

Oklahoma was still on probation from violations involving Kelvin Sampson’s phone calls infractions when these rules violations occurred. According to the NCAA, a repeat violator could have their sport dropped for at least one season.

For the latest updates on Oklahoma's violations and subsequent punishment, go here

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 11, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 3:29 pm

UNT's Tony Mitchell eager to get back on hardwood

By Jeff Borzello

North Texas kicks off its season against St. Gregory’s tonight, but the Mean Green’s season won’t really start until December 18.

That’s when freshman Tony Mitchell becomes eligible.

“Everybody’s talking about it,” Mitchell said by phone.

“We’re excited about that date,” head coach Johnny Jones added. “It will be an exciting time for us.”

While not playing at one of the BCS-conference schools, Mitchell will be one of the biggest impact freshmen in the country. He originally signed with Missouri out of high school, but the five-star prospect was ruled a partial qualifier due to questions about his transcript and test scores.

Since the Big 12 does not allow partial qualifiers, Mitchell decided he would rather go to another four-year college and sit out as opposed to junior college. North Texas was on Mitchell’s final list before he chose the Tigers – and the Mean Green allow partial qualifiers.

Jones had pursued Mitchell throughout his recruitment, and even welcomed him on campus for an official visit before he chose Missouri. For the Dallas native, it was an easy option.

“It’s basically like Missouri, with the family atmosphere,” Mitchell said. “It was a no brainer.”

Mitchell hasn’t been allowed to practice with the team since arriving at North Texas, but he’s been working out with his trainer to refine his game and expand his skill set. Moreover, he made the U-19 USA team that played in Latvia this summer.

The 6-foot-9 Mitchell led the team in rebounding (7.6) and blocks (1.8) per game, also contributing 5.0 points a contest.

“It was a very exciting, fun experience,” he said. “I just wanted to make my presence felt, make sure everyone hasn’t forgotten about me. I just played, did what I did best.”

Mitchell said it’s been difficult not to be able to play with his future Mean Green teammates, but the time away from the court has allowed him to focus on things outside of basketball. He has concentrated more on academics – the reason he is at North Texas in the first place – and he has matured on and off the hardwood.

Because he has no teammates to rely on yet, Mitchell has needed to become more independent in terms of his work ethic and schoolwork.

“He’s had to sit there and do some things academically on his own,” Jones said. “Because of his set back, it’s helped him in a sense. He had to apply himself in a different way. He’s really grown.”

“I’m basically being a college student,” Mitchell added.

North Texas went 22-11 last season, losing on a last-second shot to Arkansas-Little Rock in the Sun Belt title game. Moreover, the Mean Green lose the majority of last year’s team, including their top four scorers.

There is certainly room for Mitchell to step in and contribute immediately – and Jones needs him to be a star right off the bat. Despite not working out with the team or playing organized basketball for the better part of 18 months, Mitchell will need to shake the rust off quickly.

“Tony can play in any conference, and that’s how I gauge kids,” Jones said. “He has the ability to come in and make people around him better.”

CBSSports.com ranked Mitchell No. 16 among the freshmen entering college, because he should be able to come in and dominate the Sun Belt immediately. His talent along puts him on a different level than most players at the mid-major level.

Throw in the hunger and motivation of sitting out last season, and Mitchell is ready to get back on the court.

“I’m ready to make a huge impact,” he said. “But you still have to prove yourself. I have to live up to the expectations.”

North Texas is confident he will be worth the wait.

Photos: USA Basketball 

More College Basketball coverage
Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:37 am
Edited on: November 11, 2011 9:49 am

Kentucky's Jones, Poole involved in car accident

By Jeff Borzello

UPDATE: Terrence Jones was also involved in the car accident, John Calipari announced. He left the scene after the accident, but was later questioned by police.

According to reports, the accident occurred at 2:30 a.m. Calipari said the team will have a curfew for the rest of the season as a result.

Kentucky’s Stacey Poole was involved in a car accident along with another person, Lexington police said Friday morning.

Poole and the driver suffered minor injuries when another car swerved into the wrong lane and hit the car, knocking the SUV into a parked car.

Police charged the driver of the other car with DUI and insurance violations. The driver of Poole’s car has not been released.

A TV station reported that Poole tweeted, “Yoooo, im good!!!”


Posted on: November 9, 2011 1:30 pm

Signing Day Senior Superlatives

By Jeff Borzello and Jeff Goodman

The class of 2012 has been an interesting group of players over the last couple of years. Many of the questions people had about the class – Who’s No. 1? Best point guard? How will Andre Drummond shake out? – have been answered. It’s also had plenty of movers and shakers in the rankings, with Mitch McGary becoming a top-five recruit and people like Danuel House, Adam Woodbury and Kris Dunn going from mid-major to top 40.

With so many different personalities and story lines in the class of 2012, we decided to break it down into 15 categories:

Most important commitment:

Goodman: Kyle Anderson to UCLA - Ben Howland and the Bruins were struggling on the recruiting trail and needed a big-time player - especially in the backcourt. Anderson, despite being 6-foot-8, is the best pure passer in the class and just knows how to win and make his teammates better. If Howland can find a way to keep Reeves Nelson and Josh Smith for another year, UCLA could get back to the Final Four with the help of Anderson.

Borzello: Mitch McGary to Michigan – John Beilein has never been known to get five-star prospects, and McGary was being pursued by the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Florida, Maryland and many others. He was one of the best players in the country on the AAU circuit in the spring and summer, and will make an immediate impact in Ann Arbor. When Beilein gets supremely talented players to run his system, it’s bad news for everyone else.

Best mid-major recruit:

Goodman: Danuel House to Houston. There's a reason why many have House ranked in the Top 50 - and some even in the Top 20. He's a gifted (especially athletically) wing with size who does a terrific job attacking the basket. If he gets a perimeter shot, he'll be a pro.

Borzello: Danuel House to Houston. House shot up the charts in the late spring AAU period, going from two offers to 35 offers in a two-week span. He’s extremely athletic and is a menace in transition. House is also improving his perimeter game and is tough to stop going to the rim.

Best shooter:

Goodman: Kellen Dunham - It's no shock that I'm going with a kid headed to Butler as my top shooter. Dunham has the size, at 6-5, and can really stroke it from, well, just about anywhere. Just imagine he and Rotnei Clarke on the floor together next year.

Borzello: Fred Thomas – When he gets going, there’s not a more fun shooter to watch in the country. Thomas has the swagger of a stone-cold shooter, capable of knocking down several shots in a row and getting his team on a run. He has great size and deep range.

Best passer:

Goodman: Kyle Anderson - There's no one better in this class - and I haven't seen anyone his size pass it like this in a while.

Borzello: Kyle Anderson – It’s a weak class of point guards, but Anderson would win either way. His size and vision put him head and shoulders above the rest.

Biggest risk:

Goodman: Ricky Ledo - He's got the natural ability, but new Providence coach Ed Cooley is rolling the dice with the Rhode Island native. Teammates don't exactly love to play with him - and he hardly won at all this past summer. He's also bounced around to four different schools. If all that's not a risk, I'm not sure what is.

Borzello: Nino Jackson – Jackson became a household name on the AAU circuit two years ago, when he used his explosiveness to become one of the top guards in the country. However, he didn’t play AAU, he’s nearly impossible to track down and no one has heard from him in months. Might not qualify.

Most underrated:

Goodman: Nik Stauskas - The 6-foot-6 Canadian has been overshadowed by Alex Murphy and Kaleb Tarczewski at St. Mark's, but he's the ideal John Beilein recruit. Obviously, Michigan getting Mitch McGary was huge - but Stauskas passes and shoots the you-know-what out of the ball.

Borzello: Semaj Christon – Chris Mack got an absolute steal with this one. He’s not often mentioned among the top point guards in the country, but there might not be anyone better at getting to the rim than Christon. He will shine this year at Brewster Academy (N.H.) under Jason Smith.

Most overrated:

Goodman: Isaiah Austin - He looks the part, so long and athletic. The 7-footer, who is headed to Baylor and ranked in the Top 5 by just about everyone, just never gets anything done when I've seen him. I don't ever see his production matching his potential.

Borzello: Rodney Purvis – I think Purvis has great scoring ability, but the North Carolina commit tries too hard to be a point guard. He struggles with his left hand and doesn’t initiate offense for others too effectively. Moreover, his personality takes a turn for the worse when he isn’t getting his on the offensive end.

Biggest sleeper: (guy outside of Top 100)

Goodman: Olivier Hanlon - The Canadian was a huge pickup for Boston College. He's a pure point guard who knows how to play and makes his teammates better.

Borzello: Fred Van Vleet – Wichita State did a great job of getting him before the summer period – he was one of the best point guards on the AAU circuit in July.

Best defender:

Goodman: Chris Obekpa - The uncommitted power forward from Our Savior plays hard, runs the court well and gets after it on the glass - and is also a big-time shot-blocker.

Borzello: Marcus Smart – The Oklahoma State commit simply plays harder than nearly everyone else. He can guard four positions on the floor, and physicality and nonstop motor make him a pest.

Most explosive scorer:

Goodman: Shabazz Muhammad - He's the top-ranked player in the country for a reason. He's got an NBA-ready body and can score the ball in a variety of ways. He shoots it from deep, is athletic enough to get into the lane and strong enough to finish around and above the rim.

Borzello: Shabazz Muhammad – Didn’t want to pick the same as Goodman, but it’s impossible to go against Muhammad. The lefty is impossible to stop going to the basket, and his mid-range game is deadly. He’s not afraid to go against bigger players and finish in traffic either.

Best rebounder:

Goodman: Mitch McGary - Think Tyler Hansbrough. McGary, who is headed to Michigan, is relentless. He's also strong and is a monster on the glass.

Borzello: Ricardo Gathers – He might not be as tall as some of the other big-time rebounders, but he’s as strong as they come and has an unparalleled nose for the ball.

Best first recruit: (new coach signee)

Goodman: It would be easy to go with Kris Dunn, who is arguably the top point guard in the country and is headed to Providence. But I'm going with a somewhat-under-the-radar guy with Katin Reinhardt heading to play for Dave Rice at UNLV. Reinhardt has the size and athleticism - and can shoot it, get to the basket and finish.

Borzello: I know I wrote that Rodney Purvis was overrated earlier, but he was still a monster commitment for Mark Gottfried. He’s an in-state kid who had previously committed to Louisville and had interest or offers from Duke, Connecticut, Memphis, Missouri, Ohio State and others. He’s a big-time scorer who can be a go-to-guy.

Best frontcourt:

Goodman: C'mon, this one is just too easy. The only answer for this one can be Arizona - as Sean Miller has somehow managed to land the trio of Brandon Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski and Grant Jerrett - and all three could wind up playing in the McDonald's All-American Game.

Borzello: It’s just dumb not to pick Arizona and its trio of five-star frontcourt players. Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski are top-five prospects, and Grant Jerrett is another potential Burger Boy. Sean Miller did a great job getting all three to come to Tucson.

Best backcourt:

Goodman: There's honestly no one that truly stands out, so I'm going to go with N.C. State - even though I think all three of their guys maybe a tad overrated. The bottom line is that Mark Gottfried and his staff have added a trio of Top 100 players: Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis. Honestly, I think I like Lewis more than the other two. He doesn't look the part, but he knows how to play and brings a toughness to the table. Purvis can really score it and Warren can really shoot it. 

Borzello: Only one team has two five-star guards in the fold, and that’s Providence. Ed Cooley picked up the nation’s best point guard in Connecticut native Kris Dunn, and also received a commitment from Ricardo Ledo, who can be the best scoring guard in the country when focused. They can be the backcourt of the future for the Friars, who also nabbed Josh Fortune – a knockdown shooter who will certainly be useful for Cooley during his career at Providence.

Guy I love to watch:

Goodman: Sam Dekker - He's athletic and skilled - and will be a star for Bo Ryan at Wisconsin. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind.

Borzello: Yogi Ferrell – His ability to handle the ball and get into the lane against defenses is impressive. Ferrell will run the show for Tom Crean from the get-go.

Photos: Nike, MaxPreps

Posted on: November 8, 2011 11:00 am
Edited on: November 8, 2011 11:04 am

No timetable for Lavin's return

By Jeff Borzello

St. John’s won its opener without Steve Lavin on the sidelines, and it still remains unclear on when he will return.

Lavin is currently at home recovering from prostate cancer surgery on Oct 6.

“He’s starting to get back to normal,” Gene Keady said after Monday night’s game against William & Mary. “He laughs a lot now. He walks a lot. He’s making some progress about getting back to a normal life.”

Keady, the former Purdue head coach, was brought on last year as a special assistant to Lavin. Assistant coach Mike Dunlap, known for his X's and O's acumen, has taken over head coaching duties with Lavin out.

There is no set return date for Lavin to come back to the St. John’s bench, although some have been pointing to early December as the timetable.

“It’s basically when he wants to,” a source told CBSSports.com. “When he feels ready.”

St. John’s faces Arizona on Nov. 17, then the championship or consolation game of the 2K Sports Classic. The Red Storm also head to Kentucky on Dec. 1 as part of the SEC-Big East Challenge.

Lavin went 21-12 in his first season with St. John’s, leading the Red Storm to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002. He also signed one of the top three recruiting classes in the country.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: November 7, 2011 10:12 pm

Despite win, new St. John's era not as expected

Jeff Borzello

JAMAICA, N.Y. – The first half of Monday night’s opener against William & Mary certainly wasn’t what was envisioned with the talk of a new era in St. John’s basketball.

Steve Lavin at home recovering from prostate surgery; three top recruits ineligible for the start of the season; and a nine-point deficit to William & Mary in front of a lackluster crowd at Carnesecca Arena.

The second half, though, was the future – and present – at St. John’s. Overwhelming defensive pressure, effective transition offense and a youthful energy that has been missing from the Red Storm program for most of the past decade. Moreover, the 4500 fans in the building woke up and made it tough for William & Mary.

With four players scoring in double-figures, St. John’s dominated the second half en route to a 74-59 win over the Tribe. A 22-5 run after W&M scored to open the stanza put the Red Storm on top, with constant turnovers from the Tribe guards putting the game out of reach.

“The way we played in the second half is the way St. John’s plays,” freshman guard D’Angelo Harrison said.

Outside of 3-point shooting, St. John’s handled William & Mary in nearly all facets of the game. The Red Storm outscored the Tribe 44-10 in the paint, 28-0 off turnovers, 9-2 on second-chance opportunities and 16-0 in fast-break points. They forced 21 William & Mary turnovers and shot nearly 68 percent from the field in the second half.

St. John’s used seven players in the game, six of them newcomers and four of them playing college basketball for the first time. Despite the lack of depth, the Red Storm pressed throughout the game, drifting back into an active and aggressive 2-3 zone when William & Mary broke the full-court pressure.

Nurideen Lindsey (pictured) led the way with 19 points, the majority coming off steals and deflections that led to transition baskets at the other end. The athleticism and length of St. John’s simply wore down William & Mary in the second half.

“When the guys came out, we were a little tight,” Lindsey said. “We didn’t come out ready to play. We knew we had to turn it up a notch; we got more intense into the game. During halftime, we got together collectively and we understood that, defensively, that’s what we had to do.”

God’s Gift Achiuwa, the famously-named junior college transfer, went for 17 points and nine rebounds. More importantly, though, he stayed out of foul trouble and played 38 minutes. Moe Harkless had 17 points and eight rebounds.

During the first half, it seemed like St. John’s was looking for someone to take the reins in the huddle and be a leader. Harrison took on that role in the second half, becoming the emotional and vocal general the Red Storm needed. Once the intensity was there, talent simply took over.

“You can say it brought us together,” Harrison said. “Every game is an experience for us.”

“We were just playing basketball out there,” Harkless added. “I couldn’t really predict how the first game would go, but it’s definitely a great feeling.”

When Harkless first committed to St. John’s in August of 2010, no one knew what to expect. What followed was a whirlwind of commitments from across the country, both high school and junior college. There were three casualties along the way – Amir Garrett, JaKarr Sampson, Norvel Pelle – but the new faces of St. John’s basketball were still unknown to most people.

Tonight might have been the culmination of all the hype and anticipation of the last 15 months – or are we still waiting for the page to turn in Red Storm basketball lore? Lavin still hasn't returned and at least two recruits are waiting to be cleared.

This wasn’t Steve Lavin coaching Norm Roberts’ players. Heck, it wasn’t even Steve Lavin coaching Steve Lavin’s players.

But make no mistake; this is a new era in St. John’s basketball – even if it’s not how everyone pictured it.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: November 7, 2011 12:45 pm

Marshall a safe haven for second-chance players

Jeff Borzello

Looking up and down the Marshall roster, one notices that the Thundering Herd might not have been the first choice for most of the players.

Justin Coleman originally committed to Louisville before being ruled a non-qualifier; DeAndre Kane (partial qualifier) and Jamir Hanner (prep school) were once pledged to Seton Hall; Robert Goff was an Oklahoma commit before heading to junior college; J.P. Kambola was a non-qualifier; and Yous Mbao is a Marquette transfer.

Head coach Tom Herrion doesn’t mind being something of a second-chance opportunity for his players.

“Not every place is the perfect place for a kid,” Herrion said by phone. “I think there’s an indictment or a stigma that kids who are partial or non-qualifiers have baggage. I don’t think that’s fair.”

If everything comes together this season for Herrion and his team, Marshall could be a Conference-USA contender and an NCAA tournament team. There’s talent across the board; it’s just a matter of everyone playing to their collective potential.

While there might be some rust due to some of the players sitting out, Herrion expects his players to be motivated to prove the doubters wrong.

“There’s no doubt,” he said. “You’re truly taking away the game from those young men for a year. It makes them humble, hungrier. And we want them to be hungrier.”

Marshall returns its top two scorers from last season, in Kane (15.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.4 apg) and senior Damier Pitts (16.2, 4.7 apg). Senior guards Shaquille Johnson (8.7) and Dago Pena (7.2) are also back on the perimeter. Fourth-year junior Nigel Spikes (5.1, 5.9) will attempt to anchor the frontline.

What has everyone excited, though, is the influx of newcomers Herrion is welcoming into the fold. Chief among them is Coleman, a five-star recruit out of high school who didn’t qualify at Louisville and sat out last season. Mbao and Goff are expected to split time at center, while junior college transfer Dennis Tinnon is a big-time rebounder who should make an impact. Four other freshmen are also going to contribute.

With experienced veterans returning and loads of firepower coming in, Herrion will have to handle playing time problems as they come along.

“You coach attitude and chemistry everyday,” he said. “We have improved our talent level from top to bottom in a very short time, and these kids have thrived in this environment. I like where we are and where I think we can go. Roles will continue to shake out. You’ll have guys that have to figure it out. Guys will make the decisions for you.”

The perimeter trio of Kane, Coleman and Pitts could be one of the most explosive in college basketball – if everyone’s personalities mesh well. Kane is known for playing too emotional at times, while Pitts missed the first exhibition game due to coach’s decision.

Herrion said Kane is maturing and embracing being a leader, while Pitts is adjusting to potentially not being the leading scorer for the Herd. Coleman was ranked on our top 30 freshmen list, checking in at No. 23. He could be the key to Marshall’s success.

“He’s inch-for-inch, pound-for-pound, as talented a guy as I’ve been around,” Herrion said. “He’s a 6-foot-5 athletic stud. As he continues to figure it all out, his God-given ability will come out.”

Herrion has his work cut out for him – but it’s problems most coaches would like to have: a huge influx of talent mixed with several top returnees, leading to questions about playing time. With games on the docket against Cincinnati, Syracuse, West Virginia, Iona and Belmont (twice), the Thundering Herd will get a chance to make some noise immediately.

“We’re going to be tested from the tap,” Herrion said. “We want to put ourselves in position. We haven’t done a whole lot, but there’s been talk about us. It’s a long road, and we have things to prove.”

Fortunately for Herrion, he has loads of talent to help him change the culture -- even if they are "second-chance" players. 

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: November 4, 2011 11:58 am

Long Beach State seniors look to cement legacy

By Jeff Borzello

By the time Casper Ware, T.J. Robinson, Larry Anderson and Eugene Phelps leave Long Beach State, they will go down as one of the best classes in 49ers history.

They will have started nearly 450 games between each other, won at least one Big West regular-season championship and made Long Beach State the cream of the crop in the conference. Individually, Ware will go out as one of the top-five scorers in LBSU history, as well as its all-time leader in assists and steals. Robinson will obliterate every rebounding stat in the record books; Anderson will be near the top in steals; and Phelps should be top three in rebounds.

There’s one glaring black eye on their resume so far, though: zero NCAA tournament appearances.

“We’ll always be indebted for much they elevated the program,” head coach Dan Monson said by phone. “But if they don’t bring the program back to where it was, they really haven’t finished what they’ve started. They’ve accomplished a lot, but they haven’t finished yet.

“To go down in history without going to the tournament, they can’t really be an elite class.”

Last season, the 49ers ran roughshod over the rest of the Big West, winning the regular-season title by four games. They were the heavy favorites heading into the conference tournament, but fell in the championship game to UC-Santa Barbara. In 2010, they also lost to Santa Barbara in the title tilt.

For such a decorated group, this is their last chance to get over the hump and get to the NCAA tournament.

“They’re painfully aware of it,” Monson said. “They’re seniors and they have more of an understanding that there is no next year. This is a year we’re not hiding behind the fact that not making the NCAA tournament would be a disappointment.”

Fortunately, Long Beach State does have the talent to get the job done. Ware (17.2 ppg, 4.4 apg) is one of the best point guards in the country, capable of creating plays for himself or teammates. He put up 22 points and 10 assists against North Carolina last season. Robinson (13.6, 10.1 rpg) is a double-double machine who scored 31 against UNC and also posted 19 points and 19 boards vs. Santa Barbara. Anderson (14.3, 6.3, 3.3) missed six games due to injury last year, but his versatility was a huge asset when he returned. Phelps (9.7, 6.8) is a good defender but needs more consistency offensively.

It won’t just be those four this season, though.

“They have more help this season,” Monson said. “We were very thin last season; it’s just a better team.”

Junior college transfers James Ennis and Kris Gulley are both versatile 6-foot-7-perimeter players, while freshman Shaquille Hunter can fill it up. Inside players Edis Dervisevic and redshirt freshman Nick Shepherd are also options.

“It’s a hard team to play for 40 minutes,” Monson said. “I think because of how we play, we have all like-sizes, the athleticism we bring, ability to switch, play one through five. We can wear you down.”

The 49ers will be tested right off the bat, as my colleague Matt Norlander illustrated in his breakdown of non-conference schedules. They go on the road to face Pittsburgh, Louisville, Kansas and North Carolina – and that doesn’t include the Diamond Head Classic that features an opening game against Xavier.

Monson said his experience while coaching at Gonzaga helped him put together the rigorous docket.

“If we have some success early in the year, it can put them in position for an at-large bid,” he said. “That’s the goal, that’s why we put that schedule together – if we do have one bad day in March, like we did last year.”

Another bad day in March and the Long Beach State seniors could be looking at a storied career without a trip to the Big Dance. They know the challenge and they're not shying away from it.  

All the Long Beach State players wear wristbands. Last year, the word on the bands was “now.” This year, the word is “finish.”

And there are no second chances anymore.

Photo: US Presswire

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