Tag:Jeff Borzello
Posted on: September 9, 2011 4:10 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 4:14 pm

Trippin': Belmont looks to continue success

In our Trippin’ series, we’re talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Click here for all Trippin’ related stories.

By Jeff Borzello

Only nine teams won at least 30 games last season.

Easily the most surprising of that group was Belmont, which rolled through the Atlantic Sun at a 19-1 clip en route to a 30-5 overall record. With four starters back, the Bruins could be even better.

To some, though, a potential worry could be the team becomes complacent and no longer has the same motivation. On the Bruins’ trip to Italy in August, head coach Rick Byrd was pleased with what he saw.

“Our biggest concern is we can’t lose the edge that we had and held throughout last season,” Byrd said. “There was not a game that our guys weren’t ready to play and weren’t excited about playing. There wasn’t a drop-off. The things that made us good a year ago were still there, in terms of attitude and unselfishness. We saw those same characteristics.”

That should be scary to the rest of the conference – and country.

What Byrd learned: “We need to play with more discipline on both ends of the floor. We played with almost too much emotion; we needed to back off and be a little more solid. We were trying to make things happen, and some of that, offensively, is the 24-second shot clock. It doesn’t give us time to run a motion offense and make things happen. You’ve got to make adjustments, just like you do during the season.”

What impressed him: Motivation – “I was really pleased from the first practice on about the enthusiasm, energy and work ethic. That was the most positive thing our staff saw – there was no drop off.”

What concerned him: Conditioning – “It’s no different than playing games one week into practice. I think conditioning accounts for a lot of the mistakes that you make. It’s just very hard to get into game condition in a short period of time. We found that when we were tired, we made mistakes. We have to fight through fatigue better. We can talk about the Italy trip all year long: how loose we played in Italy when we played tired, now we have get in better shape and fight through it.”

- J.J. Mann, who was a member of the all-freshman team last season, impressed Byrd on the trip. “He stood out here in practice and in the games over there,” Byrd said. Mann came off the bench a year ago, averaging 6.0 points.

- What separates Belmont from most mid-major teams is its inside duo of Mick Hedgepeth and Scott Saunders. Both players earned second-team all-conference honors last season, and Byrd pointed to them as two players who continued their stellar play.

- If Byrd could have planned when he took a trip, he likely would have taken it with a younger team. This year’s group has three seniors and five juniors, including seven players with starting experience. “We only had one guy on the trip that was an incoming freshman,” Byrd said.

- The team had quite the voyage around Italy, going to Florence, Rome, Milan, Pisa, Lake Como, Lucca, Siena, Bellagio and other cities. Byrd planned it that way, wanting to play only three games while there. “It was much less about basketball than about the whole the trip,” he said.

- The whole team took guided tours of the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basillica and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

CBSSports.com’s list of teams taking preseason trips

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 9, 2011 2:41 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 2:41 pm

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope still awaiting clearance

By Jeff Borzello

When Georgia signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, it was clear that the Bulldogs were back to being a factor in the Peach State and beyond. Caldwell-Pope was rated a five-star prospect by most services, and was the highest-profile recruit Georgia had signed in years.

According to a source, though, Caldwell-Pope is still awaiting clearance from the NCAA for the fall.

He was cleared academically by the NCAA Eligibility Center, but the jury is still out pertaining to the case involving a former AAU coach allegedly paying the phone bill of his mother.

“He will not play until his AAU issues have been resolved by the NCAA,” a source told CBSSports.com.

In June, the Ledger-Enquirer (Ga.) reported that Caldwell-Pope and Georgia football player Jarvis Jones received extra benefits from two people who ran the Georgia Blazers, a Nike-sponsored travel team.

Jones was cleared in August to play, but Caldwell-Pope’s case still hasn’t been resolved.

In a similar case last year, Baylor forward Perry Jones was suspended six games when the NCAA determined his AAU coach gave extra expenses to his mother and paid for a flight.

“No idea how this will turn out,” the source said. “But his case is surely taking much longer to resolve than Jarvis Jones’.”

Photo: Bleacher Report

Posted on: September 9, 2011 12:39 pm

Trippin': American preparing for different look

In our Trippin’ series, we’re talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Click here for all Trippin’ related stories.

By Jeff Borzello

After finishing second in the Patriot League title race last season, American head coach Jeff Jones knew he would be losing all-conference big man Vlad Moldoveanu.

What he didn’t prepare for, however, was leading rebounder and No. 2 scorer Stephen Lumpkins leaving early after being drafted by the Kansas City Royals in June.

“We basically spent the spring thinking on how to play with Lumpkins as the center of attention,” Jones said. “Playing big with Tony Wroblicky next to him. We went from being a fairly large team to being a smallish team, and we’re going to have to figure out other ways. I’m not sure we have any choice.”

The Eagles tried to work out the kinks on a preseason trip to Prague, Vienna and Budapest – but the lack of size didn’t change. Jones isn’t concerned about it, though.

“If you compete, once we get into conference play, that’s not going to be a huge factor,” Jones said. “I don’t anticipate that being a huge issue.”

What Jones learned: “We were figuring it out, essentially playing small ball. I learned a lot about how we are going to need to play this year to be competitive. Troy Brewer had a good year last year, and he picked up where he left off. He’s going to be out offensive focal point. Charles Hinkle was our second-leading scorer, he showed he could be that complementary scorer.”

What impressed him: Toughness – “We’ve got a scrappy group. We have two seniors, Simon McCormack and Joe Hill, that are competitive and team-first. They’re great leaders. I think our team, we can already see that they’re adopting their mentality. If we can do that, that would be a very positive development. If we can get in their heads and be able to emulate them, I think that would be positive.”

What concerned him: Offensive production – “Graduating Vlad, losing Lumpkins and Nick Hendra, we lost a lot of offensive firepower. How do we replace those points? Troy can pick it up a little; Charles is going to be a secondary threat. But we’re going to have multiple ways to score. We’re going to have to be opportunistic, find non-traditional ways of scoring: offensive rebounds, transition baskets here and there.”

- Although former Georgia guard Brewer looks like he will be the top option, Charles Hinkle is also expected to carry his weight offensively. The former Vanderbilt transfer looks like he is ready to provide what was expected heading into last season. “I think it was a really positive experience for Charles, to get out there, to get lots of minutes,” Jones said. “He has to shoulder some responsibility, and we need him to score.”

- Freshman John Schoof impressed on the trip. “He’s the kind of kid who’s going to fit in, he does a lot of the little things,” Jones said. “He was a quick learner; we started him every game overseas. As he gains experience, he’s going to be one of those guys you want out there on the floor, regardless of stats.”

- Aside from Schoof experiencing soreness in one of his knees, there were no injuries on the trip.

- The entire team was able to go on the trip, which enabled Jones to mix-and-match different players in the lineup. “We started different guys every game for the most part,” Jones said. “It was good in that regard, getting everybody’s feet wet. Gave us a little bit of a jump start.”

- The Eagles went to three different cities, and spent at least one full day of sightseeing in each one. According to Jones, one of the funniest moments was when Australia native Daniel Fisher bought a pair of pants. “Let’s just say he looked very European,” he said. “But he’s from Australia, so his sense of fashion might be a little bit different.”

CBSSports.com’s list of teams taking preseason trips

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 8, 2011 5:19 pm

Florida's Erik Murphy reinstated after suspension

By Jeff Borzello

Florida head coach Billy Donovan announced on Thursday that junior forward Erik Murphy has been reinstated to the team.

Murphy – and teammate Cody Larson – had been suspended since April 12 after they were arrested for allegedly trying to break into a car after leaving a bar. They were charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass, to which Murphy pleaded guilty. His plea deal included 50 hours of community service, a substance abuse program, and $440 in restitution.

“Erik Murphy has serviced his punishment,” Donovan said in a statement. “We’re all disappointed with what transpired, but there’s no question Erik learned a great deal through the whole process and understands what a great opportunity and privilege it is to play college basketball.”

Larson is still suspended from the team; he pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Posted on: September 8, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 4:06 pm

Trippin': Cal Poly speeds things up in Costa Rica

In our Trippin’ series, we’re talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Click here for all Trippin’ related stories.

By Jeff Borzello

Cal Poly head coach Joe Callero had three goals for his team before the Mustangs’ went on their preseason trip to Costa Rica.

First, he wanted to make sure everyone stayed healthy. The Mustangs had zero injuries in their 10 practices and three games. Check.

Two, he wanted his team to have a great social development experience. Cal Poly’s athletic director set up activities for the team, and boosters hosted luncheons and dinners. Check.

Three – and perhaps most importantly – Callero wanted his team to get better at basketball. The Mustangs worked on their pressure defense, played against more physical teams and were able try different things. Check.

“From my extent, we had an A trip,” Callero said. “What will make it an A-plus trip is if they all come back excited.”

What Callero learned: “We have great depth. We have 10 players that can compete for a starting position. We had three fresh faces in the lineup, and only lost one starter. We have six guys that are seniors, added some firepower in Reese Morgan and we have some sophomore point guards. We have a couple of juniors that can play. We can go a lot of directions. We have tremendously bright kids, unselfish kids, up and down on the bench. They were shuttling in and out, enthusiastically.”

What impressed him: Unselfishness – “We have guys that came to Cal Poly to win games, turn us into a Big West contender. We didn’t promise playing time or points to anyone, we want to take Cal Poly to its first NCAA tournament. We don’t have the luxury to sit around and worry about our personal goals. What stood out the most was how much everyone has bought into the team. Our guys could care less about honors or stats. It’s team, team, team. Petty jealousy has not reared its head.”

What concerned him: Lack of spurtability – “I don’t think we’re natural playing fast. I was really hoping we could push the team to pick up the pace in transition, but we’re not a real natural fast-playing team. We spent two years really controlling the tempo with a more methodical offense. I want our team to have a little more spurtability, be more explosive in the full court.”

- Despite bringing back four starters, Callero used three newcomers in the starting lineup. Redshirts Amaurys Fermin (injury) and Chris Eversley (transfer from Rice) were starters, as was freshman guard Reese Morgan. David Hanson and Wil Donahue return down low for Poly.

- Eversley, who sat out last season after transferring from Rice, could be the key factor in replacing all-conference guard Shawn Lewis. “He had a few double-double games for us,” Callero said. “He showed an ability to play above the rim, hit 3s. A lot of things that Shawn brought.”

- Callero wants his team to press more this season. After using a half-court matchup zone for much of the past two seasons, he wants to speed the game up. However, the Mustangs weren’t consistent. “One game it was average, one game it was effective, one game it wasn’t effective,” he said. “The jury is still out.”

- All 14 players on the roster came on the trip, including Morgan, who went to school early in order to be eligible to travel. There were no academic liabilities, as Callero said no player on the team scored below a C in any class.

- Cal Poly added a late signee for the fall in recent weeks. Joel Awich, a big man from Minnesota, committed to the Mustangs in August and was officially admitted to the team earlier this week. He will redshirt this season.

CBSSports.com’s list of teams taking preseason trips

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: September 8, 2011 12:42 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 12:49 am

Santa Clara's Marc Trasolini out for season

By Jeff Borzello

Santa Clara was hoping to contend with Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s at the top of the West Coast Conference this season, but those hopes were dealt a blow on Wednesday.

Marc Trasolini, the team’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder, tore his ACL during the first game of the Broncos’ foreign trip to Canada. The injury happened fewer than two minutes into the game, when Trasolini came down on his leg following a shot.

“He is our only senior and we brought him home for this trip,” assistant coach Dustin Kerns told CBSSports.com late Wednesday night. "In front of his entire family and friends in his hometown. Made it even tougher."

Santa Clara chose Vancouver as its preseason tour destination because of Trasolini – the 6-foot-9 forward graduated from Vancouver College High School in 2008 and is a native of the city.

“Obviously I am really disappointed by what happened last night,” Trasolini said in a statement. “It’s pretty bad it happened here on this trip, but it’s worse I can’t play this season. It hurts. It hurts a lot.”

The team went to Trasolini's house for dinner on Wednesday night following the injury, and Kerns said Trasolini's spirits are still high despite the injury. 

"I think he is over the initial shock," Kerns said. "He's been working his brains out ever since last season ended, so [it was] painful for him to accept at first.

"He's doing well. Our team really lifted him up tonight." 

Trasolini averaged 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds last season, shooting better than 52 percent from the field. Combined with the return of prolific scorer Kevin Foster (20.2 ppg) and versatile sophomore Evan Roquemore, the Broncos had one of the better trios in the league.

With those three leading the way, Santa Clara won the CIT Tournament last season and had plans for a different tournament in 2011-12.

“We have a high character group so we will keep plugging away,” Kerns said. “We have time to figure it out, but it’s a big loss.”

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: September 6, 2011 12:15 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 12:16 pm

Investigation launched into West Va. prep school

By Jeff Borzello

While most prep schools are by-the-book and legitimate, there are some that give the idea of “basketball academies” a bad name.

West Virginia Prep Academy has now joined the latter group.

According to the Charleston Gazette, an investigation by both local and federal authorities has been launched into the prep school, which duped nearly 20 kids from the United States, France, Turkey and Africa into attending a basketball academy.

“We found around 16 to 18 kids in a two-bedroom apartment sleeping on the floor,” South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens told the newspaper. “They hadn’t eaten in two days.”

Daniel Hicks, a South Charleston resident who played basketball at New Mexico State and Concord, is behind the supposedly fictitious prep school. Mullen said Hicks “pulled a disappearing act.”

Hicks stands by his prep school, according to the paper. He claims his school was approved by the state (which the state and county both deny) and that the players were brought to the school without his knowledge.

This isn’t the first time his school has been in the news – even though it hasn’t even opened yet. When Hicks first told the Gazette about his school back in April, much of the information he provided didn’t check out.

The players were not the only ones tricked, as coaches from Oklahoma and North Carolina also went to West Virginia Prep Academy under false pretenses. Several of the players who were 18 or older were sent to Oklahoma with one of the coaches, paid for by the city. The rest were staying at a Ramada for free, and will also be heading home.

This story seems far from over, as the scam has caught the eye of both South Charleston police and the FBI.

“This is very complex and we’re just breaking the iceberg on a lot of it,” South Charleston Police Chief Brad Rinehart told the paper. “[The kids] felt cheated, like they got scammed and let down – they put their trust in Hicks.” 

(h/t Prep Rally) 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:09 am

Multiple suitors in need of (Wannah) Bail

By Jeff Borzello

Wannah Bail certainly has the name of a basketball player. Extremely long and athletic, Bail also has the build and body of a highly-touted prospect.

This summer, however, Bail felt he didn’t get a chance to show his full host of talents due to a toe injury.

“Not my best, especially coming off injury,” he said. “I had always felt as if I could have done something better, even after giving it my all.”

When healthy, Bail has the physical tools to be a dominant performer. Ranked No. 68 in the CBSSports.com Top 100, the 6-foot-7 power forward runs the floor extremely well and uses his strength to make plays at both ends of the court. He can get solid position for offensive post-ups, and he is a very good shot-blocker and rebounder. If he refines his offensive game, Bail could be a stud.

Bail, a native of the Bahamas, is now enrolled at Lamar Consolidated (Texas) after bouncing around a few high schools in the Lonestar State last year. His recruitment will also begin to sort itself out with coaches finally able to track him during the school season.

“It’s going good,” Bail said of his recruitment. “I’m really enjoying it.”

For now, Bail is hearing from Auburn, St. John’s, Houston, Texas Tech, Florida State, Maryland, Kansas, South Florida, Indiana, Texas A&M, Baylor, Washington State and others. All besides Kansas have offered.

Bail plans to take his recruitment slowly, but did take a visit to Houston on Saturday, when the Cougars beat UCLA in the football season opener. Michael Carey and Chicken Knowles also joined him on campus.

Don’t look for a decision soon.

“I have no favorites,” he said.

Photo: Adidas Nations

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