Tag:Jeff Goodman
Posted on: September 12, 2011 9:10 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 9:25 am
 

Trippin': Oregon goes to Italy with 8 new faces

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 Goodman

Some have begun to throw Dana Altman's Oregon Ducks in the equation for the upper-echelon for the Pac-12, along with the likes of UCLA, Arizona and Cal.

Altman has eight new faces - including a trio of fairly well-known transfers - and after talking to him following the team's recent trip to Italy, it's clear he isn't quite ready to bestow those expectations on his squad.

"We've got a long ways to go," Altman said.

What Altman learned: "I don't know if there was one major thing, but the overall sense is that we've got to improve our passing and catching. Our skill level has to get better. Our guys have got to get familiar with our scheme and what we want to do. Basically, we found out that we've got a lot of work to do."

Who stood out: Jabari (Brown) scored the ball well for us and was the leading scorer on the trip. He also averaged about five rebounds a game. The first three games he scored fairly easy and then the scouting report got passed around and he forced a few shots the last two games. But for a freshman, it was a decent start. E.J. (Singler) was solid and freshman Brett Kingman came off the bench and made shots. He was 11-of-24 from 3 and really shot it well."

What is the biggest concern: "Just trying to get everyone on the same page, blending in the new guys."

On the expectations some have placed on his team: "I didn't know they were there with all the new guys we have. Cal is going to be good with all the guys they have back, Stanford has a lot back, UCLA lost a couple of good players, but they have a lot back - look how Arizona finished last year. We've got a lot of new players. If Devoe (Joseph) and Olu can make a quick transition and Tony Woods can get the rust off and get back into shape. ..."

- Only five players return from last year's team: starters E.J. Singler and Garrett Sim, part-time starters Tyrone Nared and Johnathan Loyd and Jeremy Jacob - who only played 17 games due to a knee injury.

- Altman sounded concerned with who will pick up the leadership role following the graduation of seniors Joevan Catron and Jay-R Strowbridge. "They got everyone else to play," Altman said. "Everyone knew Joevan was all about team - and that's why they followed him."

- Altman admitted that he has upgraded both the depth and athleticism. Remember, there were plenty of defections after he replaced Dana Altman - guys like Michael Dunigan (overseas), Matt Humphrey (BC) and Josh Crittle (Central Florida) left and Altman had nine scholarship guys a year ago.

- Altman said that one-year transfer Olu Ashaolu is as adept a 6-foot-6 rebounder as he's been around, but that the ex-Louisiana Tech forward will need to be patient and work on developing his perimeter game.

- Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph didn't play on the trip because he isn't eligible until after the first six games. The only other player who didn't play was freshman Bruce Barron, who suffered a knee injury in a pickup game this summer. "He'll be fine for the start of practice," Altman said.

- Altman said that Woods, the Wake Forest transfer who was kicked out of school following an incident with his girlfriend, needs to develop a go-to move in the post. "He was easy to work with on the trip and has tremendous upside," Altman said. "He's a talented young man."

- Altman said he doesn't want to get into the habit of taking "quick fixes" such as Joseph and Ashaolu. "Would you like to do that on a regular basis? No. But we were in a situation where we wanted to compete and we had already taken four freshmen. Sometimes adding six or seven freshmen isn't good, either."

- Altman's team went 2-3 on the trip, but he spoke highly of the competition. The Ducks played pro teams in Italy - many of them boasting former NBA players.

- Jeremy Jacob, who was injured much of last season, is healthy - according to Altman. "He's in really good shape and should help us this season. He can score on the block and plays physical."

Photo: AP
Posted on: September 9, 2011 3:48 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 3:50 pm
 

Texas-Pan American's Marks lands Crane star

By Jeff Goodman

I'm fairly certain Tom Izzo still hasn't received a commitment since he was forced to spend a few days with my colleague, Gary Parrish.

But my sidekick for the first few days of the July recruiting period, Texas-Pan American head coach Ryan Marks, has landed a pledge.

And it's a big-time get for the Broncs.

Crane High (Ill.) star guard Willie Conner, who averaged 20 points per game last season, committed to UTPA on Friday. The news was first reported by ChicagoHoops.com.

Crane is the same school that has produced Will Bynum and Sherron Collins. 

I wanted to reach out to Conner just to make certain that my story on Marks and UTPA was the difference-maker.

"That was it," Conner laughed.

"Actually, I felt like it was a great situation for me," he added. "One that I didn't want to pass up. Coach Marks is a real nice guy."

The best part of Conner's decision.

On the surface, it looks like a package deal.

I've been told that Marks - a Chicago native (remember, I spent two nights on his mother's couch in her downtown Chicago condo) - had been recruiting Conner well before he hired former Crane coach Tim Anderson. Conner provided confirmation and also said Marks' hiring of Anderson was an integral part of his decision.

But I'd much rather spin this one as a package deal. It makes Marks and UTPA sound big-time.

This was a significant get for Marks, though, as he was able to land a strong wing who is able to finish and can also shoot the ball from deep. Conner, who spent his first two years in high school at Chicago Hope Academy, was also recruited by Eastern Illinois, Bradley and UIC.
Posted on: September 9, 2011 2:20 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Kansas frosh lead list of those still up-in-air

By Jeff Goodman

Kevin Ware wasn't the only one who was awaiting his fate.

Louisville's freshman failed to meet NCAA initial eligibility requirements. The school received the news on Friday and Ware, a 6-foot-4 wing from Georgia, will attempt to become eligible for the spring semester.

CBSSports.com has learned that there are several other high-profile players who are still making their way through the NCAA clearinghouse due to academic concerns:

- Kansas freshmen Ben McLemore, Jamari Taylor and Braeden Anderson

- Arizona State's prized point guard Jahii Carson

- Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross

- St. John's frosh Amir Garrett and Norvel Pelle

- Maryland late signee, Ukraine native Olexiy Len

- DePaul's Macari Brooks


Bill Self told reporters on Thursday that Ben McLemore, Jamari Taylor and Braeden Anderson - three of his freshmen - have not been cleared to play. McLemore and Taylor are allowed to attend class while Anderson isn't on campus.

McLemore and Taylor both attended three schools while Anderson, according to sources, is being scrutinized for non-traditional classwork in which he was home-schooled.

Seven of Steve Lavin's nine freshmen have been cleared, but according to sources, he's still waiting for the NCAA to clear Garrett and Pelle. Both players are Top 100 players and finished summer school last week.

Carson, a consensus Top 50 recruit nationally, was a huge coup for Herb Sendek and the Sun Devils and is expected to run the team from day one in Tempe. Carson attended Mountain Pointe and Mesa High in Arizona and has yet to be cleared by the NCAA.

Another player whose status is unclear is that of Ross, another Top 50 player. The Ohio State freshman spent his first two seasons of high school in his home-state of Mississippi before transferring to Life Center in New Jersey for his junior and senior campaign.

Len is a 7-foot-1 Ukrainian who is being researched by the NCAA, according to sources, due to his background overseas.

Two more players in Scout.com's Top 100 didn't qualify: Chris Jones, who signed with Bruce Pearl's staff at Tennessee, is playing for former Vols assistant Steve Forbes in the junior college ranks at Northwest Florida State while Central Florida signee Michael Chandler is headed to prep school.

Brooks, a Chicago native who is a piece of Oliver Purnell's class that he is hopeful will help him rebuild the program, also attended multiple schools - including an alternative high school.

Notre Dame freshman Eric Katenda, who suffered a serious eye injury, still has not been cleared. However, Katenda is in no rush since the plan - according to a source - is for him to enroll for the second semester.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 2:21 pm
 

Trippin': Revamped, Jimmer-Less BYU post-Greece

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 Goodman

The Jimmer is gone and so is his backcourt mate, three-year starter Jackson Emery. BYU associate head coach Dave Rice got the head job at his alma mater, UNLV, and the Cougars will make their debut in a new league, the WCC, this season.

"I had a few things come my way this past offseason," Rose admitted in terms of new job opportunities. "And I felt this was almost like a new job."

Rose recently returned from a trip to Greece, where he brought nine guys with him and said that just about every game was one-sided - one way or the other.

"We were either way better or the team was better than us," Rose said. "But it was a great experience. We learned a lot - and a couple of guys stepped up."

What he learned from his trip: "How different we'll be as far as scoring the ball is concerned. You don't truly realize it until you play without those two guys. We were backcourt dominated and over the years it hasn't been that way. We'll go back to relying on our frontcourt."

Who stood out on the trip: "Brock Zylstra was our leading scorer. He's a guy who redshirted as a freshman, went on a mission and has been Jackson's back-up the last two years. We played him at the point and he was pretty effective at that position."

What concerns you: "The point guard position. I'm comfortable with the frontcourt, where we've got experience, depth and leadership. Our two-guards will be able to score, but point guard is a question. We've got four guys who have a chance - maybe even five." The five are Matt Carlino, junior Nick Martineau, walk-on Craig Cusick, freshman walk-on Austin Nelson and Zylstra.

- Recently reinstated big man Brandon Davies was one of five players who did not play on the trip. Davies' season ended early last year when he was suspended for breaking the school's honor code. "He enrolled in school a little more than a week ago and went through individual workouts this week," Rose said. "It's nice to see him back. He looks good; a little out of shape." Rose said that the 6-foot-9 junior could be the focal point of the offense. "I think so. I hope to use him like we did Trent (Plaisted) and throw him the ball in the post. He needs to make positive plays in the post and that doesn't always mean scoring the ball."

- Carlino, who transferred in last year from UCLA, did not play on the trip. He was allowed to practice and will be eligible in mid-December. "I like him. He's got a lot of qualities that are really good for us in a point guard. He advances the ball, sees the floor, can create and can shoot."

- A pair of big guys who returned from missions - Nate Austin and Ian Harward - didn't go on the trip. "Both are really big inside guys who can run. Nate is skilled on the perimeter and can shoot it from 17 to 19 feet while Ian is more of an inside player - a rugged type who is a good defensive rebounder. I don't know how big of a scorer he'll be."

- Chris Collinsworth, who underwent a microfracture knee surgery, didn't play on the trip. However, Rose is optimistic that the 6-foot-9 sophomore forward will be ready for the start of practice in mid-October. "From the conversations I've had with the doctors, I'm optimistic. He's going to be a really good player for us."

- Rose confirmed he'll coach an exhibition game in Provo on Sept. 22 involving what he's told could wind up being as many as a dozen first-round picks. Rose will lead a team with Jimmer Fredette, who has been working out at BYU throughout the lockout, while San Diego State coach Steve Fisher will coach a group led by ex-Aztecs star Kawhi Leonard. Kemba Walker and Nolan Smith have also been confirmed participants.

- Emery has opted to go into the business world instead of playing overseas. "He had a couple of offers overseas," Rose said. "But he was a business major and had an offer in the private sector, with ownership in the business. It was hard for him, but it was a terrific offer."

- Rose spoke highly of freshman wing Demarcus Harrison and the job he did on the trip.

- Rose also said the trip was beneficial with the staff change. Former Kentucky forward and Wake Forest assistant Mark Pope replaced Rice and will work with the big men.

Posted on: September 7, 2011 5:17 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2011 5:24 pm
 

Trippin' : Duke's Kelly shines the brightest

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 Goodman

Jeff Capel got his first up-close look at his alma mater in Duke's recent trip to China and Dubai, so I figured the former Oklahoma head coach would be the ideal choice for insight on the Blue Devils.

OK, fine. I'll admit it. Coach K big-timed me, but Capel was perfect for the task and shared some of his thoughts - including gushing about the trio of Ryan Kelly, Miles Plumlee and Seth Curry.

What he learned from the trip: "How good Ryan Kelly is. He was our best player on the trip - and was pretty consistent in practice, too. His body has changed, he's more mature and his confidence continues to increase. This trip should provide him with even more confidence heading into the season. The second thing that stood out to me was how Seth Curry has expanded his game. I also thought of him as a shooter, but he's really worked on his ballhandling and decision-making and has put himself in a position when we put the ball in his hands and are comfortable with him running the team. He's better than I thought."

Who/What stood out on the trip: "How big and long we are. We have three guys in the frontcourt who are at least 6-foot-10 - Ryan, Miles and Mason. The strength of our team was in our frontcourt. The three main guys who stood out on the trip were Ryan, Seth and Miles (Plumlee)."

What concerns you following the trip: "The two areas we didn't play as well as we'd have liked were defense and rebounding. We need to rebound the ball at a higher rate, especially with the size we have. But we didn't implement a lot of our defensive stuff in the 10 practices prior to the trip."

- Nolan Smith told me a few months ago he expected sophomore Tyler Thornton to win the job as the starting point guard, but it was Seth Curry who started each game at the point. "I think he'll see time at both backcourt spots," Capel said.

- Freshman point guard Quinn Cook did not play on the trip as he continues to rehab from an injury he suffered last season at Oak Hill Academy. "He participated in the first three or four practices, but it was obvious he wasn't ready," Capel said. The Duke staff expects Cook to be ready for the start of practice on Oct. 15.

- Highly touted freshman Austin Rivers is really the one guy on the team that can break down an opposing defense. "The best thing he does is penetrate and create offense," Capel said. "He didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but that's not something we're worried about." Capel said that the area where Rivers needs to improve is on the defensive end, but he knows Rivers is capable since he did it when Capel was coaching the U-18 team last summer. "He can be a heck of a defensive player, but has never really been asked to do it."

- Rivers' father, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, went with his family on the entire trip. Nolan Smith also spent the entire time with the team while Kyrie Irving and Grant Hill were with the team in Shanghai.

- Capel said the highlight of the trip was climbing the Great Wall with the entire team. "It was pretty cool how the guys came together," Capel said. "You don't realize how high it is. I was exhausted. Everyone was."

- On freshman Marshall Plumlee, the youngest of the Plumlee Brothers: "He probably got knocked back more than anyone. He's going to be a really good player for us, but he's playing behind the strength of our team - Mason, Miles and Ryan. His time will come." Capel said that the youngest Plumlee can really run and plays hard, but just needs experience and strength.

- On freshman Alex Murphy: "He played better each game. If he makes his free throws and a couple of 3's, then you're talking about him playing great. The big thing for Alex is he has to develop the ego that he's a really good player. He's a legit 6-8, is athletic, can run and is versatile. He can't worry about stepping on anyone's toes. I think he came in thinking he might redshirt, but now he sees that he can play this year."

- On freshman Michael Gbinijie: "He struggled a little bit, but had been good in practice. He has to understand who he is - a defender, rebounder and a kid who can bring us toughness. Like so many freshman, he feels as though his worth is determined by scoring - while what he needs to provide us is as a big, athletic wing."

- Andrew Dawkins did what he does - make shots. Capel said the staff talked about it was the best defense they had ever seen him play.

- Mason Plumlee came off the bench each game as his brother, Miles and Kelly started up front. "Those other two guys played better in practice," Capel said. "Mason played well, and I think that may have lit a fire in him. Now he knows, with those two guys improving so much, that he has to step up. We need him to be a great rebounder and defend our paint. He played well, but those other two guys just played better. Miles was tremendous on the trip - he looked like a pro. He was dunking on guys, blocking shots and finishing through traffic. He was a beast."
Posted on: September 6, 2011 1:31 pm
 

West Coast Conference offseason report



By Jeff Goodman

BYU – The Cougars just returned from a trip to Greece. The lone staff change was Dave Rice, who got the head job at UNLV, was replaced by Mark Pope (Wake Forest). BYU will play in the Chicago Invitational and will also have non-league games at Utah State (11-11), vs. Oregon (12-3), at Utah (12-10), vs. Baylor (12-17) and at Virginia Tech (1-25). Matt Carlino (UCLA) is eligible in the second semester.

Gonzaga – The ‘Zags will, once again, load up in the non-league slate. Mark Few’s team will play vs. Notre Dame (11-30), at home against Michigan State (12-10) against Arizona in Seattle (12-17), at Xavier (12-31), at Illinois (12-3), vs. Washington State (11-14) and Butler (12-20) at home. Manny Arop (Indiana State) transferred and Demetri Goodson decided to play football.

Loyola Marymount – The Lions will play in the Centennial Classic (12-2) along with North Texas, Columbia, Idaho State and La Sierra. Non-league games include at UCLA (11-), vs. Harvard (11-19), vs. Saint Louis (11-29) and at Florida State (12-18).

Pepperdine – Head coach Tom Asbury retired, Marty Wilson moved up and took his spot – and brought on Mark Amaral (Cal Poly) as his associate head coach, hired Bryant Moore (Sacramento State) and also promoted John Impelman. Pepperdine will play at Arizona State (11-15), at UCLA (11-28) and Washington State (12-22) in Seattle. Keion Bell transferred to Missouri.

Portland – Eric Reveno & Co. will play in a tournament at Washington along with Georgia State and FAU. The non-league slate also includes games vs. Washington State (11-20), at Kentucky (11-26) and at Utah (12-19).

San Diego – Rodney Tention (Stanford) replaced Bill Carr on the staff. The Toreros will play San Diego State (12-7), UCSB (12-13) and at Stanford (12-17). Trevor Fuller transferred out of the program.

San Francisco – Rex Walters’ program will play in the Great Alaska Shootout (11-23/26) and also host the Hilltop Challenge from Nov. 11-13 along with North Dakota State, Northern Arizona and Louisiana. Non-league games include vs. San Jose State (11-16) and at Montana (12-1). Marko Petrovic left to play pro ball back in Croatia.

Santa Clara – Kerry Keating & Co. will go to Vancouver for a trip from Sept. 5-10. The program will also play in the 76 Classic in Anaheim and also host the Cable Car Classic (12-29/30) along with Eastern Michigan, Wagner and Air Force. The non-league schedule includes games at Washington State and at UCSB. Chris Cunningham and Robert Smith both transferred out of the program.

Saint Mary’s – Randy Bennett (top) and the Gaels will play in the Las Vegas Classic (12-22/23) and will also play Northern Iowa and Weber State at home in the non-conference slate. Kyle Rowley (Northwestern) and Paul McCoy (SMU) are both eligible this season while Matt Hodgson (Southern Utah) will sit out this season after transferring in.

Photo: AP

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Jeff Goodman, WCC
 
Posted on: September 5, 2011 8:02 pm
 

Friars best scenario? Ledo never steps on campus

By Jeff Goodman

Ed Cooley had no choice. He had to go after local star Ricky Ledo.

Ledo is one of the most talented scorers in the entire country, a guy that the new Providence Friars coach can normally only dream of landing. CBSSpports.com broke the news on Monday afternoon that Ledo committed to Providence.

But, in essence, the ideal scenario for Cooley may be the following:

Ledo never, ever steps foot on campus.

``It's absolutely the best thing for Cooley," said one source extremely close to the situation.

It sounds nuts, but hear me out.

Ledo is at his fourth school - which is a major academic red flag for not only the NCAA, but also for those who track the success rate of those who have established a clear track record of instability in high school. This is his second pledge to the local school, the first coming when Keno Davis was at the helm.

Many of those who have suited up alongside Ledo aren't enamored with him because of his unwillingness to be a quality teammate - and the attitude he often displays. His pledge could wind up hurting Providence with some local targets.

Also, there are plenty who feel as though Ledo playing so close to home in the fishbowl that is Providence may be ultimately setting him up to fail. 

Ledo's record this past July, at one point, was 1-10. The last high-level guy who had a mark like that one was Renardo Sidney, and um, look what's happened with him.

Let's hope I am wrong about Ledo - and he winds up academically qualifying and buying into his role as a member of a team.

However, I'm skeptical.

Cooley has already reaped the reward of a two-week stretch in which he landed arguably the nation's top point guard, Kris Dunn, and another elite level wing in Ledo.

It's given him and the Providence program exactly the pop he needed to make the Friars "cool."

People are writing about Providence for the first time in years.

But Ledo - if he does wind up in a PC uniform - could set the program back instead of moving it forward.  

Ledo has already spent four years in high school and doesn't have a diploma. The plan is to have him get his GED, then add one core class and arrive in December or January.

I'll believe it when I see it.

And I just don't think that'll ever happen - and that may not be the worst thing for Cooley and the future of the Friars.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 11:37 am
 

Alex Oriakhi was blindsided by Drummond news

By Jeff Goodman

The bombshell that Andre Drummond dropped exactly one week ago caught everyone by surprise.

Even his new frontcourt mate, Alex Oriakhi.

"I was shocked," Oriakhi admitted. "I didn't think he was coming."

But Oriakhi received a call on Friday evening from Drummond in search of UConn coach Jim Calhoun's number, saying he wanted to commit for this year.

"It was crazy," Oriakhi said.

Now the speculation will begin with how Oriaki and Drummond can co-exist. However, what people fail to realize is Oriakhi is about as team-oriented a kid as you will find.

"It doesn't bother me at all that he's coming," Oriakhi said. "I want to win another championship. That's what's important to me."

"I know I'm going to get the ball in the post," he added. "The addition of Andre isn't going to hurt me; it'll help me."

Oriakhi expects that both he and Drummond will get the opportunity to step out and expand their game on the perimeter. But that'll be the interesting scenario to watch - whether teams respect either or just pack it in, dare them to make shots and congest the middle.

- Oriakhi said he's been impressed with freshman DeAndre Daniels' ability to shoot the ball. "He's athletic and can defend," Oriakhi said. He said that Daniels and sophomore forward Roscoe Smith are similar players - with the primary difference being versatility and that Smith is stronger and also be play some power forward.

- Oriakhi also admitted that the key to this year's team is Shabazz Napier, who will likely become the full-time point guard with the departure of Kemba Walker. "He's our general," Oriakhi said. "As he goes, we go. He's ready - especially after a year of learning and talking to Kemba." Oriakhi also laughs when people question Napier's shooting ability. "That's crazy," he said.
 
 
 
 
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