Tag:Jeff Borzello
Posted on: October 14, 2011 11:10 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2011 12:15 pm
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There's no 'Melo, but Orange pack plenty of punch

By Jeff Borzello 

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – There’s no question who the center of attention was at Syracuse’s Midnight Madness.

Despite not doing much of anything for the two hours of festivities, the presence of Carmelo Anthony lifted the energy in the building to a level most onlookers had not seen in awhile.

Heading into the season, there’s obviously no Carmelo Anthony on this year’s Orange team. There’s not a Donte Greene or a Jonny Flynn. Simply put, there’s no definitive go-to-guy that will have the ball in his hands down the stretch of games.

Season tips Nov. 7

And head coach Jim Boeheim’s just fine with that.

“I think if you only have one guy, that’s a weakness,” Boeheim said at Syracuse’s Media Day.

“Even when Carmelo was here, Gerry [McNamara] made as many big plays as he did. Hakim Warrick made some plays, Josh Pace made big plays. The important thing is to have balance.”

A season ago, Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph and Brandon Triche all took their fair share of shots at the end of the shot clock or game clock. Fab Melo made clutch baskets against St. John’s. With C.J. Fair and Dion Waiters ready to take on bigger roles, there are countless options for Boeheim late in games.

“I haven’t seen that since my freshman year, with Jonny Flynn,” Joseph said of having one consistent go-to-guy. “Last year, the ball was pretty well-spread, points per game were really even. It’s going to be the same, with so many guys that can score. I can do it, Scoop can do it, Brandon can do it.”

By the time March rolls around, if the biggest problem Syracuse faces is having too many offensive options, I’m betting they will be in pretty good shape.

It's a problem most teams would love to have. 


Posted on: October 14, 2011 10:38 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 11:01 am
 

Tweaking the Goodman and Parrish projections



By Matt Norlander and Jeff Borzello


Norlander

Brozello, can't believe we weren't asked to project the field in mid-October for a tournament that happens five months from now. Needless to say I'm beyond offended. Let's take our frustration out by demolishing Parrish and Goodman's picks. Parrish doesn't even have the guts to get frisky in a fake bracket? What's that about? Seriously: WHAT'S THAT ABOUT BECAUSE IT'S WEIRD AND THERE'S LITERALLY NOTHING TO LOSE.

I'm thinking Parrish did this around 10:45 at night earlier this week. He realized his hair gel supply was low, and so he fleetingly filled out these fake matchups in order to get to Rite Aid before it closed to pick up the gel as well as 25 packs of beef jerky.

I went through -- because I have nothing better to do with my time, clearly -- and looked at how many upsets by seed Parrish predicted. Eliminating 9s over 8s, 5s over 4s, 3s over 2s, etc., the man picked exactly one upset: a 10 seed over a 7, Mississippi State over Cal.

What gives, Gary?

Next time, just ask me to do it. I'll at least have a little fun. Also, to the both of you, why'd you have to share a national champion? North Carolina is the sensible pick, but since when is doing this exercise in autumn sensible? Prepare for the backlash from Kentucky fans, if it hasn't already arrived. No one to blame but yourselves for not picking Kentucky to win a mythical championship in a field of teams arranged in such a way that its chances of ever coming to fruition is infinitesimal.

For kicks, my Final Four would've been UConn, Kentucky, Baylor and Vandy, with Kentucky winning.

Now I pass it over to Borzello, who clearly has put more thought and energy into this than all of us combined.

Borzello

Goodman’s bracket projection is far superior to Parrish, who seemingly forgot that the NCAA tournament normally produces at least one or two upsets over the course of 67 games. However, there are clearly some question marks with Goodman. First, Xavier in the Final Four? I understand that you wanted to think outside the box a bit with a No. 4 seed reaching New Orleans, but the Musketeers? I love Tu Holloway as much as the next person, but this is a team that went just 9-6 against teams outside the Atlantic-10 last season and lost two starters. Transfers Andre Walker (Vanderbilt) and Travis Taylor (Monmouth) need to have major impacts for this to happen. 
Season tips Nov. 7

I like the effort with the upset pick, but again, it was just the wrong ones. Utah State is likely a lock to win 25-30 games again, but Alabama has too much up front with Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green.

Minnesota over Cincinnati simply doesn’t seem likely to happen. I think the Golden Gophers have a good frontcourt, but they are severely lacking playmaking guards. UC-Davis transfer Julian Welch and Austin Hollins won’t strike fear into NCAA tournament opponents.

As for Wisconsin losing to FAU in the first round, Bo Ryan has won at least one NCAA tournament game in nine of the last 10 seasons. That will continue. Jordan Taylor won’t let the Badgers lose. In fact, I can see Taylor carrying Wisconsin to at least the Sweet 16.

Why not Harvard over Gonzaga? The Crimson are right down the road from you, so I know you’ve seen how good they can be – one of the best non-BCS teams in the country. Keith Wright and Kyle Casey can matchup with Elias Harris and Robert Sacre, and they have solid guards as well.

Random thought about an 8-9 game: while I don’t disagree that Missouri is more talented than West Virginia on paper, picking Frank Haith to beat Bob Huggins just seems weird. I’m not sure I would do that. 

I’m also not seeing Purdue or Marquette in the Sweet 16. Robbie Hummel’s return will provide a huge lift for the Boilermakers, but they need a major infusion of offense into their lineup to get to the second weekend. Marquette could have trouble replacing Jimmy Butler; the Golden Eagles seem destined for a close second-round loss.

Overall, I like the effort with all the upset picks and the outside the box thinking with Xavier, I just wish you made better choices with your surprises.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 12, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2011 7:46 pm
 

Hofstra is ready for life after Charles Jenkins



By Jeff Borzello

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – Over the past decade or so, Hofstra has always had a stud guard to lead the way – and someone waiting in the wings to replace him. Speedy Claxton gave way to Norman Richardson, who passed the baton to Rick Apodaca, with Loren Stokes and Antoine Agudio following him.

The latest was Charles Jenkins, a two-time CAA Player of the Year who was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in June. On the surface, it seems like the star guard lineage could be coming to a halt.

“We have a saying at Hofstra, ‘In Guards We Trust,’” senior Mike Moore said on Wednesday at Hofstra’s Media Day. “I think one of us will carry on that legacy.”

Although he’s not Jenkins, Moore could be the best candidate to step in and replace Jenkins' 22.9 points and 4.8 assists per game. Moore is the second-leading returning scorer in the conference, posting 14.9 points. He scored at least 20 points on six separate occasions, including a 28-point outing against Binghamton.

The former Fordham transfer could be ready to take that next step.

“That’s what you’d like to see,” head coach Mo Cassara said. “He’s going to be featured a bit more. He’s got to become more consistent, but he’s a scorer by nature.”

When asked who will take the big shots when the shot clock or game clock are winding down, Moore was confident in his response. “I think it’s going to be me,” he said. “I can carry that load.”

Fortunately for Cassara and the Pride, Moore won’t be alone on the perimeter. Rhode Island transfer Stevie Mejia sat out last season and will likely be slotted into the lineup at point guard. He registered nearly a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio during his sophomore year in the Atlantic-10 and will be able to replace some of the playmaking ability of Jenkins.

Mejia is not a big-time scorer, but his defensive aggressiveness and ability to facilitate offense will be an asset.

“He’s a dynamic floor leader and he’s been successful everywhere he’s been,” Cassara said. “He’s a personality in the locker room, and he’s a guy who will have the ball in his hands.”

Season tips Nov. 7

Additional help will come in the form of Nathaniel Lester, who sat out last season with a torn quad muscle. Two seasons ago, the 6-foot-5 Brooklyn native started 22 games and averaged 8.0 points. Fully healthy, Lester expects to be one of the key replacements for Jenkins.

“We can handle that,” Lester said of replacing Jenkins. “When the season ended, me and Mike [Moore] looked at each other – we know what we have to do.”

Cassara and his players don’t want to underplay the loss of Jenkins; after all, he was one of the best players in Hofstra history and one of the best guards in the country over the last two seasons. However, there was a tendency at times last year to stand around and wait for Jenkins to make a play.

This season, it will be different.

“Last year when he had the ball, it was like we didn’t have to worry about it,” junior David Imes said. “There’s no more watching.”

With the arrival of several impact newcomers, as well as Lester and Mejia completing their redshirt years, the team is optimistic that they will be able to replace Jenkins and make a move in the CAA standings.

“Teams win games, not individual players,” Mejia said. “I think we can do a lot better than last year.”

Photo: Hofstra Athletic Communications (Mike Moore)

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: October 11, 2011 10:22 am
 

Notre Dame's Tim Abromaitis suspended four games



By Jeff Borzello

Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey announced on Tuesday that forward Tim Abromaitis will miss the first four games of the regular season due to a violation during the 2008-09 season.

In his sophomore campaign, Abromaitis played in two exhibition games and then sat out the rest of the season as a redshirt. The NCAA allows freshmen to play in preseason games and still redshirt – but not sophomores, juniors or seniors. According to the rule, Abromaitis technically used a season of eligibility with those two games.

“This certainly was an unfortunate misunderstanding that I had of the NCAA rule,” Brey said in a statement. “I discovered that I had misinterpreted the rule midway through the 2008-09 season and immediately reported it to our compliance office.”

Abromaitis will use his fifth year of eligibility this season, after sitting out four games against Mississippi Valley State, Detroit, Sam Houston State and Delaware State. He will return against Missouri in the CBE Classic semifinals on November 21. It doesn't seem like the Fighting Irish will have much trouble dispatching any of the first four teams, although Ray McCallum and Detroit could pose a threat. In Abromaitis' place, Jerian Grant will get an opportunity to provide a perimeter boost. The slasher sat out his freshman season, but is very aggressive at both ends of the floor. 

Abromaitis, a 6-foot-8 Connecticut native, averaged 15.4 points and 6.1 rebounds last season. He shot nearly 43 percent from 3-point range.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: October 11, 2011 9:14 am
 

Woolridge continues pursuit of true double major

By Jeff Borzello

Renaldo Woolridge has a growing underground following, a verified Twitter account and one of the strongest fan bases in college basketball.

None of that is because he’s a senior forward for Tennessee or because he’s the son of former NBA veteran Orlando Woolridge. It’s because he’s a rising rapper and goes by the name of Swiperboy a.k.a. SB.

“Early on, people knew me as a basketball player,” Woolridge said by phone. “But since a number of my songs have gone viral, it’s changed. A lot of the people that know me are just music fans; they don’t know about the basketball. I think that will change once the season starts.”

Woolridge played in just eight games last season for the Volunteers, but he averaged 3.4 points and 2.9 rebounds during his sophomore season. He was a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school, but he Woolridge has made a name for himself on wax instead of on the court.

“When I started off, it was just an outlet. I called it a verbal diary,” Woolridge said. “It’s kind of an alter ego, so I don’t want to mix the two worlds. I talk about both; I talk about being an athlete. But I’ve never said my name in a song.”

He burst onto the scene with catchy tracks like “Never Leave You Like Kiffin” and “Eric Berry,” songs that combine his rhyming ability with his status as a Tennessee student-athlete. Woolridge has eight mixtapes under his belt, with the latest one, “Zazzzle,” coming out earlier this week.

He mostly raps over industry beats from some of the hottest songs in the country, but there are also original tracks on the mixtape. Woolridge said it’s a more mature record than his previous releases, with plenty of different styles of music and varying emotions throughout the album.

“To me, Zazzzle is a wild word,” Woolridge said of the title. “It’s an exclamation word, it kind of stands out. I used three z’s because people are sleeping on me, in both the basketball and music world. I want this to get people’s attention, to wake them up.”

With practice starting on Friday and the season less than a month away, Woolridge wanted to make sure he released the mixtape now. One of the biggest knocks on Woolridge since he began gaining attention for his musical talents is his lack of basketball focus – many think he doesn’t spend enough time working on the hardwood.

While injured last season, Woolridge created a stir when he filmed a music video inside a Knoxville bar – and reportedly received exclusive access free of charge in order to use the bar. It was deemed not to be a violation, but it was another example of Woolridge making more of an impact off the court than on the court.

“The public perception is that it’s a juggling act,” Woolridge said. “I understand why people might feel that way. But last year, I was injured, so I didn’t play the whole season. If I had a more stable college career, it wouldn’t be an issue.”

Woolridge is looking to change the mind of his music critics with “Zazzzle.” He’s also trying to change his reputation on the basketball court with a big senior season. On a Volunteers team with a severe lack of size and frontcourt depth, Woolridge has the opportunity to go out with a bang.

With a successful senior season, the 6-foot-9 small forward thinks he has a chance to achieve his major objective.

“I want to be the first player drafted to be a mainstream hip-hop artist,” Woolridge said. “A few have tried. But with the amount of buzz I have, with my Twitter account verified, I think my music career is right at the bottom of mainstream. If I have a really good season and get drafted, that’s my main goal. I want to show, if you have a dream, you can do both.”

Photos: US Presswire, Album Cover

Posted on: October 7, 2011 10:15 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 10:33 am
 

Va Tech's Marquis Rankin out 6-8 weeks

By Jeff Borzello

It was going to be hard enough for Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg to replace Malcolm Delaney no matter who was on the Hokies’ roster. Now, he will be without a top-100 point guard for up to two months.

Marquis Rankin, a freshman floor general from Hargrave Military Academy (Va.), underwent surgery on his left knee Thursday morning and will miss six-to-eight weeks. He injured the knee during a preseason drill, and the surgery was done to clean up cartilage in his knee.

Season tips Nov. 7

Delaney averaged 18.7 points and 4.0 assists last season, but Greenberg had a few options to replace his production. Erick Green is more of a combo guard, but he distributes fairly well and can also score well inside the arc. Sophomore Tyrone Garland saw inconsistent minutes last season, but he brings energy.

Rankin, despite his 170-lb. stature, is very quick and loves to push the ball. He is adept at getting into the lane and making plays for himself and teammates. He also has good length, which he uses to his advantage on the defensive end.

If Green can handle the point next to scorer Dorenzo Hudson, Greenberg will have an explosive offensive backcourt. However, if he is more comfortable off the ball, it will be interesting to see how much Rankin’s injury hurts the Hokies in the early part of the season.

Virginia Tech opens with East Tennessee State on November 12.

Posted on: October 6, 2011 11:14 am
 

From Penn State to Navy, Ed DeChellis is adapting

By Jeff Borzello

Ed DeChellis raised plenty of eyebrows in May when he announced that he was leaving Penn State to become the head coach at Navy.

After all, the Nittany Lions were coming off an NCAA tournament appearance and Navy has finished above .500 in the Patriot League just twice in the last decade.

For DeChellis, it was the perfect choice.

“This is where I wanted to be,” he said Thursday by phone. “I enjoy getting back on the floor, I enjoy the stuff that basketball coaches do. Not the development things, not the going around and speaking. I can focus on my team.

“I’m looking at yachts coming into the harbor right now. It’s a beautiful place. I don’t regret the move at all.”

There’s no question DeChellis has his work cut out for him, though. The Midshipmen only won 11 games last season, but lost four seniors from that team. They return one senior – Jordan Sugars – that played more than 17 minutes last year. Navy also brings back six sophomores and welcome in a 10-man recruiting class.

With so many underclassmen, DeChellis plans on having a junior varsity team – and being serious about it. He wants at least a 14-game schedule for the JV squad, with seven or eight players on the roster. With as many as 19 players on the current varsity roster, it’s certainly a feasible option.

“Just because you play JV basketball doesn’t mean we don’t think highly of you,” DeChellis said. “You’re going to be playing 12 games, 30-40 minutes a game – maybe you don’t get 12 games for the varsity.”

As for the varsity team, don’t expect the Midshipmen to be as up-tempo as they were a year ago under Billy Lange. Last season, Navy ranked No. 27 in the country in tempo; Penn State was at the other end of the spectrum, ranking No. 341.

Sugars will lead the way, after averaging 16.0 points and 6.0 rebounds last season. He and sophomore J.J. Avila will have to carry the load offensively, although their individual offensive numbers might drop a little with the slower pace. Sophomore Isaiah Roberts is also expected to take on a bigger role.

“I’m trying to adapt to Navy, not sure about the Patriot League yet,” DeChellis said. “We have a lot of games and practices before we get to January to figure out where we are as a program. I’m getting to know the players, trying to figure out what we want to know. We’re figuring out what kind of things, offensively and defensively, give us a chance to be successful. For us, it’s uncharted waters.”

Annapolis, Md. is fewer than 200 miles from State College, Pa., but it’s a world of difference when it comes to basketball, lifestyle and off-court responsibilities. It’s certainly a distinct challenge; recently, one of DeChellis’ seniors was awarded a spot in the SEAL training program.

Obviously, that type of thing doesn’t happen at Penn State – and that’s what DeChellis likes.

“That’s what I came here for,” he said. “I want to help mold these kids, help them become leaders and fulfill their dreams in the United States Navy. It’s been different, but it’s been a good different.”

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 30, 2011 2:47 pm
 

N.C. State lands big recruiting coup with Purvis

By Jeff Borzello

Is this the end of the recruiting process for Rodney Purvis?

During a press conference at his high school on Friday afternoon, Purvis announced his commitment to North Carolina State.

"There's no place like home," Purvis said at his press conference. 

Purvis has had one of the more interesting recruitments in the class of 2012. He originally was a member of the class of 2013, and then reclassified last spring. Purvis committed to Louisville -- then reopened his recruitment in early May.

A couple of months later, it looked like Purvis was ready to make a decision early in the summer. He then reversed course and released a new list of seven schools in late August. As a result, many people expected Purvis to take his time with the recruiting process. This could finally be the end of the road. 

Purvis, a 6-foot-3 guard from Upper Room Christian (N.C.), is ranked No. 15 in the class by CBSSports.com. He is a top-notch scorer, capable of getting past nearly any defender and finishing in the lane due to his strength and athleticism. Purvis is a fearless offensive player, with the confidence to get points against anyone. If he improves his left hand and ability to run an offense, Purvis will be a premier combo guard.

Purvis joins point guard Tyler Lewis in North Carolina State’s 2012 recruiting class.

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