Posted on: March 11, 2011 2:25 am
NEW YORK -- Kemba Walker was terrific.
UAB was not.
Here's Thursday's Wrap-up to recap a busy day of college basketball.
Best game: Kemba Walker began things by delivering the shot of the postseason -- and possibly the entire season -- to give Connecticut a 76-74 victory over Pittsburgh and propel himself into Madison Square Garden lore. The New York kid wowed the New York crowd with a stepback jumper at the buzzer that got Pitt's Gary McGhee so crossed he'll likely refuse to ever again switch on a ball screen. Yes, it was that bad. And that great. Suddenly, Kemba at MSG is the best show going. A date with Syracuse in Friday's Big East semifinals is on deck.
Other best game: Kansas missed 20 of 25 3-point attempts against Oklahoma State and needed the Cowboys to miss a heave at the buzzer to escape with a 63-62 win in the Big 12 quarterfinals. Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar combined to go 2 of 14 from 3-point range for the Jayhawks. So on second thought, this wasn't really one of the best games in terms of beautiful basketball. But it was close. And close is usually fun.
Team whose dream remained alive: Colorado proved "it's hard to beat a team three times in a season" is among the dumbest things dumb people say by beating Kansas State for the third time this season. The Buffaloes have now beaten the Wildcats by scores of 74-66, 58-56 and, most recently, 87-75. So the third time was actually the easiest of all three times … and probably enough to ensure Colorado receives an at-large bid regardless of what happens against Kansas in Friday's Big 12 semifinals.
Team whose dream was crushed: UAB had a questionable resume despite winning Conference USA and entered the league tournament with work to do. Unfortunately for Mike Davis, the Blazers did not do the required work. They instead lost 75-70 to East Carolina in the C-USA quarterfinals. Where I'm from, that's called locking down an NIT bid.
Performance I hope you witnessed: Ben Hansbrough's 23-point, seven-assist effort in Notre Dame's 89-51 blowout of Cincinnati wasn't as highlight-worthy as Walker's memorable outing, but it was still an impressive performance for the Big East Player of the Year. Hansbrough was 8-of-11 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line. He's the main reason why the Irish have gone from unranked in the preseason to the verge of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Performance I hope you missed: Jackson Emery took nine 3-pointers and missed eight of them. That's not a violation of BYU's Honor Code, but it ought to be. Yes, the Cougars overcame a halftime deficit and beat TCU 64-58 in the Mountain West quarters. But what they really did is provide another 40-minute sample that suggests they miss Brandon Davies just as much as most anticipated, and that's going to be an issue come Selection Sunday.
Three other things worth noting
1. Southern California's 70-56 victory over California means the Trojans have an opportunity to get a sixth top-50 win in Friday's Pac-10 semifinals against Arizona. But would that be enough? Honestly, I'm not sure. Because though the Trojans have better wins than most bubble teams, they also have worse losses -- specifically three outside of the top 200. My advice: Go for the automatic bid, Kevin O'Neill, just to be safe.
2. St. John's suffered more than a 79-73 loss to Syracuse in the Big East quarters. The Red Storm also lost D.J. Kennedy to a torn ACL that ended his season prematurely and will send Steve Lavin's team into the NCAA tournament short a key contributor. Kennedy was averaging 10.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
3. Washington State's Klay Thompson returned from his one-game suspension and dropped 43 points in an 89-87 loss to Washington. So Thompson was high -- or at least in a car with a substance you use to get high -- last Thursday and the nation's highest scorer this Thursday. That's impressive.
Final thought: No team has ever lost its conference tournament opener and gone on to win the NCAA tournament.
You've heard that before, right?
You heard it when Pittsburgh lost to Connecticut, didn't you?
Of course you did. We all did. And though it's a statement that's 100 percent true, it's also misleading because it fails to recognize that we've never had a league as large and strong as the Big East that requires a true national title contender to open its league tournament with a game against a team the caliber of Connecticut. Bottom line, there are plenty of reasons to think Pitt won't win a national championship. But the fact that the Panthers lost to a nationally ranked UConn team on a ridiculous stepback jumper from an All-American on Thursday shouldn't be among them.
Posted on: May 3, 2010 1:29 am
UAB's Elijah Millsap has decided to remain in the NBA Draft, the Birmingham News reported Sunday night.
DraftExpress.com first reported Millsap's intentions last week.
That led to a public denial from the 6-foot-6 junior even though the report was clearly accurate.
Millsap averaged 16.1 points and 9.5 rebounds this season.
He's the younger brother of Paul Millsap.
Posted on: February 8, 2010 9:07 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2010 9:37 pm
AUSTIN, Texas -- We're about to tip here at the Erwin Center.
It's Kansas vs. Texas.
So consider this your pregame Poll Attacks .
AP poll: All I do each Monday is look at the AP poll, find a team getting votes that shouldn't be getting votes, identify the guilty party, write about it, and that's pretty much how the Poll Attacks work.
It's not my fault if the guilty party repeats itself week after week after week.
I tell you that because here we are again, back focusing on the Idaho Statesman's Nick Jezierny, a future first-ballot Poll Attacks Hall of Famer. Not only does he have Northern Iowa ranked 12th, which is ridiculous on about 58 different levels, but he also has Wichita State ranked 21st, which is ridiculous on about 158 different levels.
(Let me say this: I don't mind people ranking UNI even though I'm not ranking UNI. No. 12 seems awful high, sure. But whatever. If you're impressed by a team running away with its league and stacking wins even though it lacks quality wins, fine. By now you know I care about quality wins way more than I care about the number of wins, but I recognize not everybody thinks the way I think. So, again, if you want to rank Northern Iowa, rank away. It's a perfectly reasonable thing to do. But Wichita State?)
You can't rank Wichita State.
And this is coming from a guy who likes Gregg Marshall. But the record is the record, and the record is 20-5 with the best win being a home win over a Texas Tech team that's ninth in the Big 12. Meantime, two of the losses are to Creighton (12-12) and Drake (11-14). So how Nick can look at Wichita State and see a team that should be ranked 21st is beyond me. But I gave up trying to make sense of this stuff long ago. Now I just poke fun at it.
Coaches poll: It's OK to not rank a C-USA school; I don't have one ranked either. But if you're going to put a C-USA school on your ballot, shouldn't it be the school that's leading C-USA? Of course it should! But somehow the coaches gave UAB seven points, Tulsa four and first-place UTEP zero despite the fact that UTEP won at UAB two weekends ago and beat Tulsa by 14 points last weekend.
(Couldn't Tulsa's Doug Wojcik at least put the Miners at No. 25?)
UTEP is 17-5 overall with an 8-1 league record, and yet the coaches have the Miners as C-USA's third-best team. It's crazy. And if I live to be 167 I still won't know how Tulsa is getting votes. Sure, the 18-5 record looks nice. But the best win is against Oklahoma State, and three of the losses are to Missouri State, Nebraska and Nevada.
Thus, Tulsa shouldn't appear on anybody's ballot.
And they sure as heck shouldn't appear on a ballot that doesn't also include UTEP.
Posted on: December 16, 2008 5:17 pm
UAB's attempt to make Conference USA a two-bid league is about to take a hit because Jeremy Mayfield, Terrence Roderick and Ed Berrios will be ineligible for the second semester, a source close to the situation told CBSSports.com on Tuesday.
The source said all three are academic casualties.
Roderick (21.8 minutes per game) and Berrios (12.5 minutes per game) were key reserves, and Mayfield was supposed to join the team this month. In another development, FoxSports.com is reporting that Armon Bassett -- a former Indiana player who enrolled at UAB and was supposed to join the Blazers for the 2009-10 season -- is leaving school, meaning Mike Davis won't have the talented and troubled guard next season, as planned.
UAB now has six scholarship players available for the rest of the season.
The Blazers (5-3) play Jacksonville State on Wednesday.
Posted on: November 26, 2008 6:08 pm
Beyond UAB's huge opportunity tonight when it plays Oklahoma at Madison Square Garden, there are other reasons for C-USA fans to be excited about the future of their league because things do seem to be trending upward. To be clear, it'll never be what it was, because that's not possible with Louisville, Marquette and Cincinnati gone. But what it can be is much better, and it seems it will be based on the way recruiting has gone and is going.
Consider: Two of the nation's top six prospects -- Xavier Henry and DeMarcus Cousins -- have committed to play in C-USA next season (at Memphis and at UAB), and no other league has two of the top 10. Does that mean C-USA is on the verge of leapfrogging the ACC? Of course not. But it's a start, and when you combine that with Marshall's signing of Hassan Whiteside (13th-ranked center), Rice's signing of Arsalan Kazemi (30th-ranked power forward) and UCF's signing of Keith Clanton (MVP of last summer's AAU National Tournament) it's pretty clear C-USA is in for a talent upgrade over the next year.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.
Tonight, the focus will be on UAB and Robert Vaden and a match-up with OU's Blake Griffin.
"Griffin is one of the best players in the country," said UAB coach Mike Davis. "But we think (Vaden) is one of the best in the country, too."
Posted on: October 15, 2008 6:32 pm
Edited on: October 15, 2008 6:42 pm
Just days before being named the preseason Conference USA Player of the Year, UAB's Robert Vaden was in Indiana kicking it with friends to the extent that he was arrested on a preliminary charge of public intoxication.
Sounds like fun to me!
In all seriousness, the details are sketchy so I probably shouldn't joke. But unless a guy is drunk behind the wheel of a car, drunk hitting a girl or drunk and being a total idiot I find it difficult to get too worked up about it. I mean, let he who has never spent a weekend night drunk in public cast the first stone, right? But on the other hand, when you are Robert Vaden or any bigtime college basketball player it is important to know that any slip-up (regardless of how small) can garner national headlines and reflect poorly on your school. So for that reason it's fair to criticize the high-scoring guard for being stupid and careless, if nothing else.
Now the bad news: Vaden is expected in Memphis on Thursday for C-USA Media, which is being held at FedExForum just off Beale Street, i.e., where the bars stay open till 5 a.m. and people routinely drink heavily, as do goats. (Yes, there are really goats that drink beer.) Beale Street is a dangerous place for a man who can't hold his liquor. So it'll be interesting to see whether Vaden can avoid trouble while in town.
It'll be tough, I imagine.
But either way I wish him luck.
Posted on: September 19, 2008 1:14 pm
Rashanti Harris has committed to Georgia State, and that might not mean much to you. But it's worth noting in this space because Harris is rated by Rivals.com as the 26th-best prospect in the Class of 2009 and Georgia State isn't the type of school that typically lures recruits of that caliber.
It's a wild development, honestly.
Arkansas, Memphis and Mississippi State were all heavily involved with Harris, whose academic woes are well-documented and the reason the Mississippi native is now at The Patterson School. But late Thursday night he passed on those programs to commit to Rod Barnes and in the process continued a trend of high-level prospects choosing outside the power programs.
Consider that four of Rivals.com's top 13 centers in the Class of 2009 are now committed to non-BCS programs. This wouldn't be too strange, mind you, if they were committed to Xavier, Gonzaga, Memphis or Nevada. But the four prospects (Harris, Zeke Marshall, Aaric Murray and Greg Smith) have pledged their allegiances to Georgia State, Akron, La Salle and Fresno State, meaning four top 90 national prospects have committed outside the normal power structure (and it should be noted that Rivals.com's No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2009, DeMarcus Cousins, has committed to UAB, i.e., another non-BCS/non-power program).
For those in search of explanation, here's one: Beyond the special relationships that can bond between staffs and prospects (and played a huge role in the commitments of Harris and Cousins), it's fair to partly credit the 2008 NBA Draft for the trend. Multiple industry sources have said kids watched three of the first 26 picks come from Rider (Jason Thompson), Western Kentucky (Courtney Lee) and IUPUI (George Hill) and realized for good that it's possible to be a first-round pick from virtually anywhere. In other words, Harris knows the NBA is an option even from Georgia State, and perhaps that helped make his unconventional decision a little easier.