Tag:Jeff Borzello
Posted on: August 25, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 4:54 pm
 

The 24-hour tip-off marathon is back



By Jeff Borzello

One of the biggest complaints about the college basketball season is the lack of a marquee kickoff. There is no Thursday night game between two top-10 teams, or a triple-header of historical programs.

For the past couple of seasons, the unofficial start to the campaign has been the 24-hour marathon televised by ESPN. It comes about a week after the season actually begins – on Tuesday, Nov. 15 this year – but the all-day festivities bring the casual fans that forgot college basketball was upon us. This year doesn’t have as many great games as a year ago, but there’s certainly enough to keep your attention.

As for me, I’ll attempt to stay up the entire marathon again. I was able to do it last year, but that was a last-minute decision and I wasn’t really prepared. For those who don’t want to stay awake for upwards of 30 hours in a row, we have a handy viewer’s guide – ranked by eyeballs. Five eyeballs for must-watch matchups, one eyeball for nap time.

Midnight: Washington State at Gonzaga: It’s the first game of the marathon, so it shouldn’t be too hard to stay up for it – especially the West Coasters. Moreover, Gonzaga should be a top-25 team and Washington State returns Reggie Moore and Faisal Aden. Four Eyeballs

2 a.m.: Northern Iowa at Saint Mary’s: Two of the best non-BCS programs on a yearly basis. Northern Iowa only has one starter back, but Saint Mary’s is loaded once again. Three Eyeballs

4 a.m.: South Alabama at Hawaii: The toughest time slot on the docket, and two teams that aren’t exactly crowd-pleasers. Hawaii was involved in one of the best games in the marathon last year, though. One Eyeball

6 a.m.: Drexel at Rider: Both teams were solid last season, with each winning at least 20 games. Drexel has the inside-outside duo of Chris Fouch and Samme Givens, while Rider gets the services of Virginia transfer Jeff Jones. Two Eyeballs

8 a.m.: Morehead State at College of Charleston: No Kenneth Faried or Andrew Goudelock anymore, so it will be interesting to see how each team bounces back. Two Eyeballs

10 a.m.: Kent State at West Virginia: Could this be an upset possibility? Kent State is consistently good in the MAC, and West Virginia will be a very young team this season. Three Eyeballs

Noon: Belmont at Memphis: This might be the best weekday noon game until conference tournaments. Belmont returns four starters from a 30-win team, and Memphis is likely to be ranked in the top-10 by some. Four Eyeballs

2 p.m.: San Diego State at Baylor: If San Diego State still had its frontcourt from last season, this would be a dandy. Instead, a rebuilding Aztecs team takes on a Baylor group that has as much talent as anyone. Three Eyeballs

4 p.m.: Rhode Island at Texas: No one really knows what to expect from either team. Rhode Island loses its top two scorers, but brings in a good crop of newcomers. Texas will look completely different from last year. Three Eyeballs

6 p.m.: TBD at Virginia Tech: Without knowing the opponent, I’m just going to throw two eyeballs out there. This might be the only time to get dinner before the string of marquee matchups come at night. Two Eyeballs

7 p.m.: Duke vs. Michigan State: Arguably the two most successful coaches and programs in the past decade go head-to-head. Duke will have more talent on paper, but Draymond Green and Delvon Roe return for Michigan State. Five Eyeballs

8 p.m.: Florida at Ohio State: By far the best game of the marathon, as both teams are expected to have top-10-caliber clubs. Florida is loaded on the perimeter, but Ohio State will counter with Jared Sullinger inside. Five Eyeballs

9 p.m.: Kentucky vs. Kansas: Two of the most rabid fanbases in college basketball will surely revolt if I don’t give their game five eyeballs. Kansas is reloading, and an already-loaded Kentucky team could be a tough test so early. Five Eyeballs

10 p.m.: Austin Peay at California: Don’t sleep on this game, literally and figuratively. California has been thrown around by some as a potential Pac-10 sleeper, and Austin Peay returns nearly everyone from a 20-win team. Three Eyeballs

11 p.m.: TBD at Stanford: I don’t really know what to tell you here, other than Stanford better have a worthy opponent or most people won’t make it to the second half. Eyeballs TBD

TBD: TBD at No. 4 Syracuse: A chance to see a top-five team is certainly worthy of a viewing, but it depends on the time and opponent. Eyeballs TBD

TBD: Arkansas Pine-Bluff at Oklahoma State: You do get an opportunity to see freshman LeBryan Nash, but this isn’t really catching anyone’s attention. One Eyeball

Here’s the complete schedule: 2011 College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon

Photos: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 25, 2011 10:52 am
 

Trippin': Gardner-Webb comes together in Bahamas



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

Chris Holtmann and his Gardner-Webb team were sitting at their pregame meal in the Bahamas, awaiting their 7 p.m. tip against the Nassau Cybots.

Then a phone call came in – the Runnin’ Bulldogs had to get to the arena for a 6 p.m. game against the Bahamas All-Stars.

“They flipped the script on who we would play,” Holtmann said.  “We told them we would play whoever was there, but we can’t get there for a 6 o’clock game.”

Gardner-Webb ended up facing the Bahamas All-Stars at 7 p.m., and despite losing by three, Holtmann felt good about the last-minute contest.

“It was what we expected, and we were still learning about each other,” he said. “I felt as good about that game as the game we won by double-figures.”

What Holtmann learned: “At $2.50 per minute for a phone call and no cell phones, you see the value of community, what’s special about a team. There’s no question that cell phones can be a detriment to that at times. Having five days of no cell phones, we bonded together. Being on the bus, not seeing guys texting while they’re with their teammates. When we got back, we had six guys on Facebook and three on Twitter say it was the best experience of their entire life. They could spend time with each other, and that was really, really valuable. It’s something I won’t forget.”

What impressed him: Chemistry and leadership – “I think the chemistry and our leadership has a chance to be good. The guys like being around each other and competing. We also have better depth than we had last year, knock on wood. We have so many new faces. The first game here, our five leading scorers were not members of the team last year.”

What concerned him: Inexperience – “The youth would be number one. We have a number of inexperienced guys that we’re going to need to play significant minutes. We don’t have the luxury of saying, you can play behind this guy for two-three years, or even a year. We’re going to have a chance to have a successful season, but newcomers will have to step up and contribute right away.”

- Wofford transfer Jason Dawson is expected to make an immediate impact at the point guard position. “He played well in both games,” Holtmann said. “It was up-and-down, so the pace was good for him. I think he performed really well.”

- Despite all the newcomers, leading returning scorer Laron Buggs is not going to relinquish his spot easily. “He played really well in the second game,” Holtmann said. “I think he’s continuing to get better and better.”

- Freshmen Donta Harper and Max Landis were the standouts among the first-year players on the roster. Harper had 13 points in the opener, while Landis averaged 8.5 points off the bench.

- There were no injuries and everyone was able to go on the trip besides UCF transfer Jarvis Davis. Davis played in 15 games for the Black Knights last season, and joined Gardner-Webb in June. He will sit out the upcoming season.

- The Runnin’ Bulldogs stayed at the Atlantis resort, but also got out and explored the island. For Holtmann, one of the highlights was a trip to an orphanage. “It was important for me that our guys maybe take some time and think about other people,” he said. 

- With seven returnees and eight newcomers, there will be some growing pains – but Holtmann is looking forward to the future. “We’re going to be young, there’s no question,” he said. “It’s a season where we go through tough stuff, but I’m excited about what we’re starting to build.”

CBSSports.com’s list of teams taking preseason trips

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 24, 2011 5:07 pm
 

Trippin': Injury-riddled Drake goes to Australia



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

Drake head coach Mark Phelps caught flashbacks when he saw video of the brawl between Georgetown and China.

Twelve years ago, Phelps went to Italy when he was an assistant at North Carolina State – and the same thing happened. With no security around, an all-out brawl ensued for at least two minutes before two Americans on the Italian team escorted NC State to the locker room and then the team bus.

“It was a zoo, it was a bad scene,” Phelps said. “You show up to a gym, there’s nothing familiar about the venue that makes you have any level of comfort. The crowd is against you, you’re not getting one call and you don’t know what their team is comprised of. You’re thinking, ‘Man, what are we getting ourselves into?’”

There were no fights or brawls during Drake’s trip to Australia this month – and that was a good thing for more than just safety. The Bulldogs were without four of their best inside players, leaving small forward Ben Simons to play the post.

Phelps thinks the 1-3 trip Down Under will help in the long run, though.

“There will be residual benefits,” he said. “Players had to play out of position, so we got see how they react to adverse situations – situations, toughness-wise, that we wouldn’t see until January or February. It was a really good experience.”

What Phelps learned: “It was confirmed that we can really rely on Rayvonte Rice and Ben Simons. As a sophomore and junior, that will be our strength. In our league, they’ll be as good of a one-two punch as there is. I think that’s what we really learned more than anything – those two will be dependable, reliable, our go-to-guys.”

What impressed him: Wing scoring – “Rayvonte Rice is on an upward path, and he did exactly what I expected from him. He averaged over 20 a game, Ben Simons had about 17.5 per game. I’m really happy to see those two guys scoring, we’re really going to rely heavily on those two guys. Jeremy Jeffers, a 6’6 wing, averaged right around 10 points a game. Going into his freshman year, he’s got a big-time headstart on any other freshman.”

What concerned him: Physicality and defense – “It’s not really fair, because we were missing so many guys with size, but in order to win in the Missouri Valley, you have to compete physically. We were outmanned – once again, you’re talking about pros in their 20s and 30s and we didn’t have our bulk and size – nevertheless, it’s something I can point to and say, we have to compete at a higher level. We’re not where we want to be defensively. Other teams shot 53 percent – it’s another thing you can point to and talk about.”

- Returning starters Seth VanDeest (shoulder surgery) and Jordan Clarke (knee), as well as key reserve Frank Wiseler (illness), did not suit up at all on the trip. Reese Uhelenhopp started the first game, but left the game with a thumb injury and did not play the rest of the time in Australia.

- Kraidon Woods – a former Villanova commit, Arizona State signee and Binghamton transfer – did not travel with the team due to disciplinary reasons. “We had an agreement,” Phelps said. “And he was on-course before falling off at the end. But I had to stick with my word. It should be a wake-up call for him.”

- Point guard play is another area of concern for Phelps. Karl Madison, who redshirted last year due to injury, could take the reins later in the season, but David Smith shouldered most of the load on the trip. “We’ve got some question marks there,” Phelps said. “We’ll hone in on that in the fall.”

- Drake plays Iowa State in the second game of the season, a game Phelps has had circled on his calendar. “That’s going to be a big game,” he said. “The experience we had prepares us to play Chris Allen, Royce White, Chris Babb. As opposed to opening up at home in a situation . . . we do have four games under our belt. We don’t have a false sense of security going into the opening games.”

- Drake had 18 practices or workouts as a team because of the trip. “That’s 18 workouts you wouldn’t typically get with your team,” Phelps said. “It’s such a head start. Definitely beneficial on so many levels.”

- The team certainly took some time to take in the sightseeing spots in Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne. The Bulldogs went on a Sydney Harbour cruise; saw koalas and kangaroos at a wildlife reserve; and one player even climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

CBSSports.com’s list of teams taking preseason trips

Photo: Drake Athletics

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 24, 2011 11:27 am
 

Top-25 big man Shaq Cleare pops for Maryland

By Jeff Borzello

In a class filled with great big man, Shaquille Cleare is perhaps the biggest of them all.

On Wednesday, the 6-foot-9, 280-lb. center ended his recruitment by committing to Maryland. Aaron Harrison Sr., Cleare’s AAU coach with the Houston Defenders, confirmed the news to CBSSports.com.

Long thought to be a Maryland lean, Cleare chose the Terrapins over Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, Florida, Arizona and others. The pick-up is huge for new head coach Mark Turgeon and his staff.

“A place where I fit in,” Cleare told me in June when asked about the biggest factors in his decision. “A coach that is there all the time.”

Cleare, ranked No. 25 in CBSSports.com’s Top 100, is a space-eater down low that carves out areas on the block and goes to work. He has very good strength and solid footwork, which he uses in a variety of post moves. Cleare moves well without the ball and gets great position for entry passes. Once he improves his stamina and conditioning, his ceiling will rise tremendously.

Cleare, a Village School (Tex.) product, is the second commitment in Turgeon’s 2012 class, joining guard Seth Allen.

Photo: ESPN Rise

Posted on: August 24, 2011 9:54 am
 

Trippin': UMKC takes first trip in school history



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

UMKC had never taken a preseason or foreign trip in the history of its basketball program.

Fifth-year head coach Matt Brown thought this would be the perfect year.

“We have eight new guys, since we had redshirts last year, so it was important to get practice experience and game experience,” Brown said. “The big thing was so many new guys, so I thought it would be a good time.”

The Kangaroos went 4-0 in their trip to Italy, beating a combination of professional and amateur teams. To Brown, though, the competition wasn’t the biggest factor in Europe.

“It was more about us up there,” he said. “We learned a lot more about our team. Individually, what guys need to work on. We’re light-years ahead. It’s a big step for the program.”

What Brown learned: “This is probably the deepest team we’ve had since I’ve been here. I learned about combinations – what guys are better with some guys, what guys are better with others. We have guys that can play different positions on the floor.”

What impressed him: Unselfishness – “We’re more unselfish. Last year, we had 90 more turnovers than assists, and valuing the ball and sharing the ball is something we need to do more of.”

What concerned him: Defense – “Consistent effort on the defensive end. Being more consistent, being able to guard for 40 minutes, is the biggest thing.”

- Former Wichita State transfer Reggie Chamberlain stood out the most, from an individual standpoint. “He’s going to be an all-league player for us,” Brown said.

- Two players who redshirted last season – Kirk Korver (injury) and Nate Rogers (transfer from DePaul) – are expected to make major impacts for UMKC.

- There are only two freshmen on the roster this season, but Estan Tyler was impressive in Italy. Tyler is a 6-foot-1 guard from Minnesota who also had an offer from Northern Iowa. “He’s going to play significant minutes for us,” Brown said.

- Fortunately, no major injuries were suffered on the trip. “Just a small ankle here or there,” Brown said. “The usual.”

- Only player didn’t accompany the team on the trip. Brad Reid stayed back home with his family, but he’s back at school now.

- Brown and his team visited Venice, Florence and ancient Rome while on the trip, with a trip to the Coliseum in Rome as one of the highlights. “There were several opportunities,” Brown said. “We did some really neat things."

CBSSports.com’s list of teams taking preseason trips

Photo: UMKC Athletics

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 24, 2011 8:56 am
Edited on: August 24, 2011 9:00 am
 

No. 1 PG Kris Dunn committing to Providence

By Jeff Borzello

When Ed Cooley was hired from Fairfield as Providence’s new head coach, there were some questions regarding his ability to recruit top-flight talent.

Those concerns will be alleviated on Wednesday, as sources have told CBSSports.com that Kris Dunn will announce for Providence over Connecticut.

Dunn, the No. 1 point guard in CBSSports.com’s 2012 rankings, will be on the Friars’ campus on Wednesday. He recently trimmed his list to Providence and UConn, with Louisville and Marquette among the main schools left off his list.

Dunn is a 6-foot-3 New London (Conn.) product who was one of the fastest-rising players on the spring and summer AAU circuit. He has great size for the position, and his explosiveness is unparalleled in the class. Dunn can get by his defender at will, penetrating into the teeth of the defense and making plays for himself and teammates.

His commitment does wonders for Providence, which is also pursuing several other marquee players. Chief among them is Ricardo Ledo, who cut his list to five earlier this week and will likely take an unofficial visit to Providence on Wednesday.

Photo: Max Preps


Posted on: August 22, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2011 4:47 pm
 

Memphis goes with Luke Walton as third assistant

By Jeff Borzello

The hunt for a third assistant coach at Memphis has received more attention than most searches because of the lengthy process. In fact, head coach Josh Pastner said last week he might choose to go with just two assistants: Jack Murphy and Damon Stoudamire.

Instead of going quietly without a third assistant, Pastner went the opposite way: on Monday, he recommended Luke Walton for the spot.

Walton is an eight-year veteran for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning two NBA titles in 2009 and 2010. With the league mired in a lockout, Walton is available for a fairly high-profile second job.

“Luke is going to bring great excitement and great energy to the Tigers program, and we’re thrilled to have him,” Pastner said in a release. “Luke will be a great coach because he brings a wealth of knowledge and a winning attitude to the Tigers program.”

Walton’s relationship with Pastner dates back to their days at Arizona under Lute Olson. While at Arizona, Walton reached the national title game once and was a consensus All-America as a junior. He will remain on the Tigers staff until “the resumption of the current NBA season.”

While it’s not a parent or coach of a top-25 basketball recruit, whom Gary Parrish suggested Pastner should hire, the move will make waves nonetheless. Assuming the lockout is over next year, Walton is basically a one-season holdover to work with players. He won’t have much of an impact on recruiting if he’s only going to be there for 8-10 months or so. Interestingly, though, Walton did work as a counselor at the NBPA Top 100 camp in June, so he does have a relationship with several of the country’s top prospects.

It remains to be seen what will happen if the NBA lockout ends within the next few months – will Pastner have to go with two assistants? Either way, it looks like Memphis will be on the hunt for a third assistant again next season.

Photo: US Presswire

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 18, 2011 7:57 pm
 

SDSU's Carlwell denied sixth year of eligibility

By Jeff Borzello

The NCAA announced on Thursday that San Diego State center Brian Carlwell’s appeal for a sixth season of eligibility has been denied.

The 6-foot-11 former Illinois transfer applied for an extra year because of injuries he suffered as a freshman with the Fighting Illini, as well as a knee injury the next season.

“I was hurt when I found out I wasn’t going to be able to come back,” Carlwell said in a statement. “My time at San Diego State was amazing. I couldn’t ask for a better three years of my life. I was a part of an amazing team. We made history at San Diego State and our legacy will forever live and that is something I am really proud of.”

Carlwell averaged 3.8 points and 2.7 rebounds for the Aztecs last season, coming off the bench behind the frontcourt trio of Kawhi Leonard, Billy White and Malcolm Thomas. With all three of the starters gone this season, Carlwell would have found himself as an anchor down low in the fall.

San Diego State was going to be thin up front either way, with only nine scholarship players on the roster. LSU transfer Garrett Green will help, but it’s fairly barren in the paint for Steve Fisher. Alex Williams and Tim Shelton combined to average 3.7 points and 2.9 rebounds last season, while DeShawn Stephens is a junior college transfer.

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