Courtside seats to the Champions Classic are going for $3,250 on Stubhub right now. But uppers can be had in the $120-to-180 range.
Nearly 80 NBA personnel are expected to watch diaper dandies Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Jabari Parker in the Champions Classic on Tuesday night in Chicago.
Media coordinator Charley Green told SNY.tv that 73 NBA credentials have been issued, and that doesn’t include the Chicago Bulls who don’t have to go through Green because the United Center is their home arena.
“Probably around 80 scouts in total. This thing blew up after Wiggins committed,” Green told SNY.tv.
Nearly all of the top freshmen made their college debuts this week. Kansas’Andrew Wiggins finished with a quiet 16 points, Kentucky’s Julius Randle went for 23 points and 15 boards, Duke’s Jabari Parker showed his efficiency, and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon registered a double-double.
We got a chance to talk to a few NBA guys and also college coaches in attendance about their thoughts on what they saw.
…Andrew Wiggins, F, Kansas Jayhawks
Played 34 minutes and finished with 16 points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals against Louisiana-Monroe. The positive was that he knocked down a couple of shots from deep (2-of-4 from 3-point range), but he tended to stand around a lot. Wiggins will need to be more aggressive as the season goes along, and he’ll also need to use his length and athleticism to rebound at a higher rate.
“Great athlete, no way he’s the top pick in the draft. Julius Randle is better. There’s just way too much hype. His skill level is average. He made a few shots but plays straight up and down and doesn’t have any playmaking skills. Everything has to be a straight-line drive. Right now, he’s the third- or fourth-best player for Kansas. He’s long and athletic but has a long way to go.”
ESPN Goodman ($)
There’s seriously a scout now saying there’s “no way” Wiggins is the top pick? I know there’s a debate. But that’s just dumb.
So as a service to my fellow Hoop Thinkers, I here present my 10 Burning Questions for our sport as we open the gift of a brand new season. So pull up a chair and feel the heat.
…4. Whither Wiggins?
As long as we're on the subject of freshmen -- and it's a wonderful subject, because there are lots of really good ones out there -- let us address the two schools of thought concerning Kansas' newest toy, Andrew Wiggins. The first says that Wiggins will be the best player in the country, the best Kansan since Wilt, and the best 19-year-old since LeBron James.
The second school says that Wiggins will be the third-best freshman on Kansas.
I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Wiggins will wind up somewhere in between. To be sure, you're going to be wowed by his highlight-reel plays. Wiggins is that rare athlete who doesn't jump; he floats. He also has a pretty outside stroke. So his physical tools are considerable.
The bigger question is whether Wiggins has the personality to assert himself, especially since he is surrounded by so many talented teammates. Wiggins is not naturally competitive. I saw him play about a dozen AAU games while he was in high school, and in eight of them, I barely noticed he was out there. Yes, he has a tendency to rise to the occasion (his showdown against Kentucky's Julius Randle at a Nike event in Georgia is Exhibit A), but Wiggins is still facing a major challenge in transitioning from high school to college. Wiggins is going to have some memorable games this season, but don't be surprised if he has many more that leave you scratching your head.
Here are 10 other questions to ponder between now and April 7:
1) Why do I think Kansas — a freshman-dominated team — will be the national runner-up despite my diatribe on experience over blue chips?
Because if you paid attention to last season, nothing ever happens the way you think it will in today’s college hoops. That’s a big part of what makes the sport so great.
Bill Self’s recruiting class is ranked second in the country, a notch below John Calipari’s — and I’d argue that a decade from now we might argue that the class in Lawrence had better NBA talent than the class in Lexington. This Jayhawk squad matches up favorably (or equally) with Kentucky at every position but point guard, where Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison is a complete dynamo and Kansas’ Naadir Tharpe has a lot to prove.
Here are two reasons why I think Kansas is primed for a better year than Kentucky: The Jayhawks could very well be more talented, with three likely lottery picks in Andrew Wiggins, center Joel Embiid and shooting guard Wayne Selden, who looks (and plays) more like a grown man than any freshman in college hoops.
But more importantly, the Jayhawks have that veteran leadership that the Wildcats sorely lack. Tharpe is a junior and has already experienced the growing pains of an underclassman. Self told me Tharpe’s the most talkative player he’s had on the court in a while, and communication is an undervalued asset for a point guard. And KU’s starting big man will be graduate transfer Tarik Black, who came from Memphis as a grown man and who will be one of this team’s leaders. He can be a Darius Miller for the rest of this young team.
It wasn't long after Duke routed Davidson on Friday at Cameron Indoor Stadium when several people started tweeting me about the Blue Devils' place in the Top 25 (and one). I have them ranked fifth; they're fourth in the Associated Press and Coaches polls. So this was interpreted by some as proof of my bias or ignorance or something.
Such is the case with ranking things publicly, I guess.
There's always somebody anxious to call you biased and/or ignorant.
That said, here's the truth: there's really not much difference between being fourth or fifth in a national ranking posted in November, and the reason I have Duke fifth as opposed to fourth is merely because I went to Kansas last month and fell in love with the talent Bill Self has assembled.
It's as simple as that.
Had I instead gone to Duke and seen Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood up close, I might've fallen for Duke instead. But whatever. It's not a big deal or real difference, either way; I can't stress that enough. Regardless, the Blue Devils' impressive performance in their season-opener -- they beat a respectable opponent 111-77 -- brought attention to how I've "underrated" Duke in some eyes, and more than one reader was surprised when I didn't jump Mike Krzyzewski's team over KU (and perhaps others) when I updated the Top 25 (and one) on Saturday morning.
I know my boy @Ntharpe1 and the whole #KUCMB gone show out against Duke!
Kansas University freshman Andrew Wiggins on Tuesday will play his second game in the United Center, home of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.
The 6-foot-8 guard from Canada erupted for 19 points off 6-of-10 shooting in the East team’s 110-99 loss to the West in the 2013 McDonald’s All-America Game last April 3 in the Windy City.
“It was good. It’s a big place. It can hold a lot of people. It was fun to play in. The gym was cool,” said Wiggins, who will lead the Jayhawks against Jabari Parker-led Duke approximately 9 p.m. Tuesday in the NBA arena (capacity 20,917) in which Wiggins and fellow freshman phenom Parker figure to visit numerous times as pros the next 15 years or so.
Parker — the No. 4-rated player in the recruiting Class of 2013 by Rivals.com — scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the winning West squad in the McDonald’s game. KU freshman Wayne Selden also performed in the contest, scoring 13 points off 5-of-7 shooting as a teammate of Wiggins on the East.
“He is very diverse. He can do a lot of different things,” Wiggins, the No. 1-rated player in the Class of 2013, said of Parker, a 6-8, 235-pounder out of Chicago’s Simeon High. “He can score, dribble, pass. He’s an elite player. It’s always good going against players when you know they are good.
“I’m excited. Duke is a legendary team with a legendary coach. I’m looking forward to it. It should be a good match-up,” he added, referring to KU vs. Duke, not Wiggins vs. Parker.
“He’s a good player. He can shoot the ball. He’s pretty skilled. He’s good,” KU’s Selden said, chiming in on Parker, who also had 16 points in the East team’s 102-98 victory over Wiggins’ and Selden’s West squad in the 2013 Jordan Brand Classic last April in New York.
KU freshman center Joel Embiid scored four points with five blocks and seven boards in that contest. Embiid was a teammate of both Parker and Duke freshman guard Matt Jones (6-4, DeSoto, Texas), who had 14. Jones had four for the West in the McDonald’s game.
“I know Jabari and Matt Jones. I know them well,” Embiid said. “Jabari is one of the best players coming out of high school in my class last year. He’s really good.”
KU third-year sophomore Jamari Traylor, who attended Chicago’s Julian High before moving on to IMG Academies in Florida, played against Parker, “one time in high school. I was a junior, and he was a freshman. He was always a good player, a lot of potential,” added Traylor, who expects to guard Parker some Tuesday.
If recent practices are any indication, Wiggins and the rest of KU’s freshmen are looking forward to the match-up in the Champions Classic. Michigan State plays Kentucky in the opener at 6:30 p.m.
“All I’ve seen is guys going at it ... Wiggins getting on the floor, everybody showing a different kind of mind-set,” junior guard Naadir Tharpe said. “I think guys are starting to understand how important this game is going to be.”
In basketball, as on the big screen, tall men always seem to look down to the little guy to show them the way.
It’s no different with Kansas University’s fifth-ranked basketball squad, a tight group already, according to one of its many talented newcomers.
“We’re always together,” freshman guard Wayne Selden said. “You’ll never catch anybody, unless they’re sleeping in their room, by themselves without anybody on the team. When I came on my visit, that’s what I felt, and that’s why I came here.”
Naadir Tharpe was his host for that visit, and Selden has been following his lead ever since.
“I played against him in high school,” Selden said. “He was the same as he is now: vocal and just ran the show, definitely ran the show in high school. He’s definitely the MVP, the leader. We need that because we’re so young.”
Kansas coach Bill Self is happy to have the 5-foot-11 junior from Worcester, Mass., after he served a one-game suspension for playing in a summer-league game in Chicago.
“I’ve said all along Naadir’s not our most talented guy, but he’s been our most valuable player since we’ve started practicing,” Self said.
If the Opening Night performances of No. 4-ranked Duke and No. 5 Kansas University mean anything — and that, of course, is debatable — the Blue Devils would have to be given the early nod entering Tuesday’s Champions Classic basketball contest in Chicago.
“They hung 111 on Davidson (in 111-77 win). That’s a 34-point beatdown against a team that had a lot of players coming back from when they beat us in Sprint Center a couple years ago,” KU coach Bill Self said Friday after his Jayhawks’ 80-63 victory over Louisiana at Monroe.
A disciplined Davidson team stunned the Jayhawks, 80-74, on Dec. 19, 2011, in Kansas City, Mo.
“They pressure. They are going to get after us,” Self added of coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils. “If we allow their pressure to offset our size, then they win. We’ve got to be able to neutralize their pressure so we can take advantage of size. Then we would win that particular battle.”
Ellis has added six inches to his standing vertical since last November and recently hang-cleaned nearly 100 pounds more than his max in high school, according to strength coach Andrea Hudy.
Hudy says that the hang clean and standing vertical are two ways she measures explosion and quickness, and that's what looks different about Ellis this year as opposed to last year.
"I'm jumping so much better than I have been," Ellis says. "I feel so much more explosive and am finishing a lot easier."
That's more than just preseason lip service. Those words matter to the success of the Jayhawks this year as much as how well Wiggins adjusts to the college level.
Self has made adjustments to his offense to highlight Wiggins' skill set—look for a faster tempo, lots of lobs and trying to get Wiggins the ball in the post. But Self's offense has always been at its best when he has a reliable scorer in the post to highlight in his high-low offense.
Ellis' numbers suggest he can be that guy. In his limited minutes last year, he took a higher percentage of shots than any Jayhawk other than Ben McLemore. He also had an impressive offensive rating of 114.1, according to KenPom.com (subscription needed).
That offensive rating was better than other highly-ranked big men in his class: Nerlens Noel (109.0), Steven Adams (109.8), Kaleb Tarczewski (102.2), Brandon Ashley (105.8), Mitch McGary (113.0), Isaiah Austin (103.2) and Anthony Bennett (114.0), the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
After an impressive showing at the Adidas Nations camp this summer, Ellis put himself on the NBA's radar as well. He's projected to go 19th in the 2014 draft by NBADraft.net.
…On Tuesday night in the Champions Classic in Chicago, Ellis, not Wiggins, will likely be matched up against Duke freshman star Jabari Parker.
All eyes will be on Wiggins and Parker.
But watch out for Ellis. He's faster, stronger and he's no longer a starry-eyed freshman. He's the old veteran now, finally playing a thinking man's game.
11/9/13, 8:53 PM
“@SkylerRudy: @J_mari31 do u like the new or old jerseys better?”idk. These jerseys cool tho... Wait til u see what we bring out tho!!!
As little as the understated Dawkins likes to talk about his time off, there’s one thing he doesn’t shy away from: He’s a 3-point shooter. When he tweeted his return to the basketball team, he said he was changing his number from 20 to 34 in honor of one of the NBA’s best ever shooters, Ray Allen. And on the court, his shooting is what will get him minutes for the Blue Devils.
“A lot of my success in this game is going to be based off the way I shoot the ball,” Dawkins said. “The big thing for me is keeping that strength a strength. For me that’s shooting, and that’s why I work so hard on it—to be the best shooter.”
Sometimes the ease in Dawkins’ stroke is obvious. At the beginning of his junior season, he led the Blue Devils past Michigan State at Madison Square Garden with 26 points on 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc. Later that year, he hit 6-of-9 3-pointers—in only 21 minutes—to help Duke beat No. 15 Florida State on the road.
More than two-thirds of his made baskets as a Blue Devil have been 3-pointers, connecting on more than 40 percent of his attempts.
Last season, Duke marketed itself as a physical, gritty team. Although those characteristics may still apply to this year’s squad, the name of the game is now speed.
Playing with no true center in the starting lineup, the Blue Devils will push the pace on opponents this year, trying to score in transition and applying full court pressure in the hopes of generating turnovers.
“We’re going to try to implement a system that’s personalized for this team,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said at the start of fall practice. “This team’s very athletic. It’s not your conventional team of two big guys, a wing, a shooter and a point guard. It’s not going to be like that. It’s going to be a team that has very good versatility. Guys are going to have to be able to guard multiple positions…and it’ll be a team that uses the full court, both offensively and defensively.”
Blue Devil floor general Quinn Cook will be tasked with controlling the pace of the game at both ends of the court. Krzyzewski lauded the junior’s ball pressure in late September, saying that the Washington, D.C., native is in the best shape of his career.
Duke facts and figures
36.4 Points returning: Gone is 62 percent of Duke’s scoring from last year, as the trio of Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry moved on to the professional ranks. The 77.1 points per game the Blue Devils averaged last season ranked in the top 10 nationally. Quinn Cook (11.7 points per game) and Rasheed Sulaimon (11.6) are Duke’s leading returning scorers, though neither will be expected to carry the team offensively this year.
Where to attack: Have a traditional center who is a rebounding machine (think Louisville’s now-departed Gorgui Dieng)? That would be a potential matchup problem for Duke’s collection of under 6-foot-10 wings (Amile Jefferson, Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker). Fortunately for Duke, there aren’t any notably talented, true centers in the ACC
• Magic number: 78.3.
That’s how many possessions per game the 2000-01 Duke squad averaged, according to Teamrankings.com, on their run to the NCAA championship. Last year’s team averaged 69.4 possessions per game (116th nationally). Look for this team, with its increased athleticism, to push the pace and play more like that ’01 team.
Scouting report: Duke’s starting five
If the Suns wanted someone who blew them away with his vertical-leap test in 2011, they would have drafted Iman Shumpert. And they almost did.
JaJuan Johnson was that draft’s highest hopping big man, but there is more to the job than jumping. His career (36 games￼) could not match his vertical leap (38 inches).
That Suns front office, with scouting led by holdover director of player personnel John Treloar, went with Markieff Morris, the power forward with complete-game potential, over Kenneth Faried, known for energy and rebounding.
Morris’ third season is starting to show what was beyond a mediocre 31 1/2–inch vertical leap.
Morris is putting more power into his power-forward title and showing athleticism that the staff always saw.
“I’m a game jumper,” Morris said. “You test me in the game, and I’m probably a 37 (-inch vertical).”
Denver center Timofey Mozgov can attest. Morris jumped from behind him Friday to slam in a free-throw miss.
It has been a three-game party at the rim for Morris, who followed coach Jeff Hornacek’s request to move his offense to the paint more. The product was consecutive career-high-scoring games because 21 of his 33 baskets came at the rim.
His 28 points and 10 rebounds Friday came off the bench against the Nuggets and Faried, who started for three points and five rebounds.
“He’s high energy,” Morris said of Faried, who former Suns coach Alvin Gentry used as a high-motor example for Morris. “You take the energy away, and he ain’t doing nothing. Nothing.”
Morris is on a career-best three-game scoring stretch with 68 points, scoring efficiently like Amar’e Stoudemire did in his heyday with the Suns. In the past two games, Morris has made 21 of 26 shots with inside-outside versatility, and he has grabbed 22 rebounds.
KUAD WBB defeats ORU Recap
KUAD WBB Box Score
KUAD WBB Photos
LJW WBB Photos
It was a joke and the truth, all at the same time.
Before starting her postgame news conference, Kansas University coach Bonnie Henrickson turned to reporters and said what most of them were already thinking: “You guys like that free-throw contest?”
The KU women certainly won’t complain, not after an 84-62 victory over Oral Roberts on Sunday that included a school-record 54 free-throw attempts and 41 free throws made.
Still, it was the second basketball opener in three days at Allen Fieldhouse that had its flow sucked away by an officiating crew’s fixation on the new hand-check rules passed down by the NCAA.
…Though the Jayhawks smashed the previous free-throw records, Henrickson actually believed her team had more opportunity to draw fouls.
“It surprised me that the number’s that high,” Henrickson said, “because I didn’t think we drove it as soon in the game as I thought we needed to.”
KU’s 54 free-throw attempts were the most in school history, with the previous record of 50 set in 2000 against Mississippi Valley State. ORU, meanwhile, had never allowed more than 46 free throws to an opponent before Sunday’s whistle-fest.
The Jayhawks’ 41 free throws made also easily beat the previous best of 34 made against Penn State on March 19, 1994. ORU had never allowed more than 35 in its history, while KU’s season high last season for free throws made was 23.
“I think we can be a lot more aggressive, but I think we started to be more aggressive down the stretch,” KU guard Natalie Knight said. “That’s what got us those free throws.”
LJW: Jayhawk fans wear their KU pride on their walls
Big 12/College News
The #TipOffMarathon begins tonight.
Video: Katz previews marathon
- Kent State at Temple (Monday, 7 p.m., ESPNU)
- Colorado State at No. 15 Gonzaga (Monday, 9 p.m., ESPNU)
- BYU at Stanford (Monday, 11 p.m., ESPN2)
- Western Kentucky at No. 16 Wichita State (Tuesday, 1 a.m., ESPN2)
- Akron at Saint Mary's (Tuesday, 3 a.m., ESPN2)
- New Mexico State at Hawaii (Tuesday, 5 a.m., ESPN2)
- Hartford at Florida Gulf Coast (Tuesday, 7 a.m., ESPN2)
- Quinnipiac at La Salle (Tuesday, 9 a.m., ESPN2)
- LSU at Massachusetts (Tuesday, 11 a.m., ESPN2)
- West Virginia at Virginia Tech (Tuesday, 1 p.m., ESPN)
- South Carolina at No. 25 Baylor (Tuesday, 3 p.m., ESPN)
- North Carolina State at Cincinnati (Tuesday, 5 p.m., ESPN)
- No. 14 VCU at No. 24 Virginia (Tuesday, 7 p.m., ESPN2)
- No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Kentucky (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN)
- No. 10 Florida at No. 20 Wisconsin (Tuesday, 9 p.m., ESPN2)
- No. 5 Kansas vs. No. 4 Duke (Tuesday, 9:30 p.m., ESPN)
Seton Hall and Niagara combined for 102 free throw attempts off of 73 fouls. And there were more shots taken from the charity stripe than field goals put up in the game: 102-101. Luckily for Seton Hall, despite the tweetfest with all the blown whistles, it came away with the 83-72 win. So, yes, there were more fouls called than total points for the losing team.
I wish I knew the last time that happened in a D-I game, or the last time free throw attempts outnumbered field goal attempts. This kind of fouling frenzy could become common as college basketball adjusts to the new normal. In an effort to clean up the game and allow for more scoring, officials have been instructed to be much more critical of how they call fouls. Hand-checking is now off the table, and the distinction for what makes a block and what makes a charge is also under new rule.
Speaking to the Star-Ledger after the game in the officials locker room, lead official Wally Rutecki explained the rationale behind the abnormal amount of foul calls.
"It's an adjustment for everyone," Rutecki said. "I think tonight, that was their first live game -- you know what I mean? -- now they've seen it. Not in practice, not in a scrimmage -- for real."
When he was asked if this game was a feeling-out process by all parties involved, Rutecki said: "That's what I saw."
The new rule changes in college basketball are going to be a prominent storyline early this season.
As with any changes, there is going to be an adjustment period with the officials, players and coaches.
Count SMU coach Larry Brown among those who were never in favor of the changes. He saw similar changes made in the NBA and didn’t feel it improved the game as desired.
And he predicts a similar fate in the college game.
“I saw it in the NBA and it was terrible,” Brown said after SMU’s season-opening victory over TCU on Friday night.
“I couldn’t agree more with freedom of movement and trying to open up the game, but I’ve said this my entire career — until you figure out how to have more shots, you’re not going to get more scoring by putting people on the free-throw line. That’s going to be the end result.”
Brown predicted teams will adjust to the new rule changes by playing more zone defense. The rules call for stricter hand-check calls and are also designed to make it more difficult to draw charges.
Brown said he believes the best way to improve the game is to teach the fundamentals better and try to get college players to understand that only a small percentage have the ability to be legitimately “one-and-done.”
“Make kids more fundamentally sound, teach them how to pass and catch and cut and shoot and then you’d have a better game,” Brown said. “We’re playing them too young, we’re not working enough on fundamentals. We’re putting them into systems rather than teaching them how to play.
“That’s the end result of what they’re talking about. So figure out a way how to get more scoring, more shots. That’s the only way I know — better fundamentals.”
Ft Worth Star Telegram
Although Brown's contention that the rules aren't the problem so much as players with less fundamental skills isn't inaccurate, this is the only real way to get a quick fix. In an ideal world, kids will go back to the basics, practice their defensive stances and even their midrange games.
And there will be unicorns dancing in meadows, too.
No, the game needed an intervention, and this is as good a quick fix attempt as any.
After all, it did work in the NBA. In 1994, the pros eliminated handchecking. Three years later, out went the arm bars players had resorted to when the handchecking was being called.
Since then, more scoring and less fouling. In the 1997-98 season, teams averaged 95.6 points per game and committed 1,837 fouls. Last year, they averaged 98.1 and committed only 1,626 fouls.
Getting there, though, wasn't easy. Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg was in the NBA when the league eliminated handchecking and harped on freedom of movement.
"It was pretty ugly at first," he said. "Those first summer league games were taking three hours sometimes, so it was pretty painful. And, with the NBA guys, they're so powerful and explosive, it was darned near impossible to keep those guys in front of you."
Eventually the NBA worked its way into a happy medium. Not everything is a foul now, but there's enough of an understanding that the chronic contact is gone.
Odds are that will happen here, too.
Between now and eventually, though, we could very well see exactly what the coaches fear -- a lot of free throws, good players on the bench, marathon games.
Heck, we might see a college coach actually self-combust on a sideline.
Change, after all, isn't easy. And this is a big change.
"This is as big of an adjustment for the game as we've seen, and that includes the clock and the 3-point line," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said at Big 12 media day.
Ah, good point.
Coaches hated that at first, too.
If you're searching for a college basketball league with elite star power, look no further than the Big 12, where you'll find arguably the nation's two best players in Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart.
…But as the season tipped off across the country Friday, the larger question is what the top-heavy league will offer beyond the two well-recognized teams and stars at the top. With three of the league's 10 teams — Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor — on display in a tripleheader at American Airlines Center, there were concrete signs of optimism for the league because Oklahoma and Baylor earned notable victories that should carry weight come Selection Sunday.
…In the national picture, the ACC and Big Ten should battle for the right to call itself the nation's best league. The SEC and Pac-12 will both be improved. The new Big East will be competitive at the top but will see better days ahead. The American Athletic Conference is an intriguing league featuring some of the nation's best backcourts.
And in the Big 12, a league in which six coaches have coached in the Final Four, the spotlight will be squarely on Wiggins and Smart all season. But Oklahoma and, especially, Baylor, demonstrated on opening night that they are capable of beating quality opponents.
Vibe: When you spoke to University of Arizona’s head coach Sean Miller for The Seth Davis Show, you said Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Kansas, Duke and Arizona were on another level. Of those six, who do you see in the Final Four and who’s the eventual national champion?
Seth Davis: I have Michigan￼ State winning the national title because they have the best combination of talent and experience. We know what kind of talent Kentucky has and they’ll be hard to beat, but Michigan St. brings back Keith Appling and Adreian Payne. As long as they’re healthy, have to put them in my Final Four. But of course there will be a team in Dallas that isn’t in the top four now. No one had Wichita St. in their Final Four at the beginning of last season.
It was requested Joshua Smith weigh in multiple times a day at UCLA, but in the nine months since he transferred to Georgetown, those checkups have lessened to a mere handful total.
He is accepted for who he is at Georgetown. All the Hoyas want him to be is reliable, to honor the commitment they have made to him by never shirking his responsibilities.
Joshua Smith is a large man. That's not an insult. That's a fact. He's listed at 6-foot-10, 350 pounds. That's who he is, that's who he was at UCLA and will be at Georgetown for his final two years of college basketball.
He has taken the sage advice of John Thompson Jr., an imposing man himself. Thompson is at nearly every Georgetown practice when the Hoyas are home, towering over his son, Hoyas' head coach John Thompson III, and every player, including Smith.
"He told me to be confident in myself whatever weight I am as long as I play hard," Smith said.
Cameron Bairstow had 22 points and 11 rebounds and No. 23 New Mexico opened its season with an 88-52 win over Alabama A&M.
Kendall Williams finished with 17 points and seven assists, while Alex Kirk added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Lobos (1-0), who finished 29-6 and earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament but were bounced out in the second round by 14th-seeded Harvard.
Cullen Neal, the son of new head coach Craig Neal, netted 12 points in his debut. The elder Neal took over for Steve Alford, who bolted for UCLA.
Rian Pearson was 8-of-11 from the field and had 19 points as Toledo began its season with a 102-55 rout of Northwest Ohio on Saturday night.
Toledo trailed 19-13 in the first half but proceeded to score 16 straight points and go on a 26-2 run. The Rockets never trailed again.
Toledo shot over 62 percent from the field and had six players score in double figures. Jonathan Williams had 15 points, Justin Drummond had 14, Julius Brown had 13, J.D. Weatherspoon had 12 and Zach Garber added 11 for the Rockets. Toledo also forced Northwest Ohio (2-2) into 21 turnovers.
The win was the Rockets' first in a season opener since 2007. Toledo is considered the favorite to win the Mid-American Conference's West division.
Preseason All-America Russ Smith had 21 points and five assists and No. 3 Louisville outscored College of Charleston 22-3 over the final 6:41 on Saturday to pull away to a 70-48 victory in the first game of its national championship defense.
Smith's new backcourtmate Chris Jones, last season's junior college player of the year, added 12 points and five assists.
Charleston trailed 48-45 after freshman Canyon Barry's hit a 17-footer with 6:55 to play. Then Smith asserted himself, hitting two free throws and driving to find forwards Montrezl Harrell and Wayne Blackshear for easy baskets that gave the Cardinals a 54-45 lead with 5:05 left. Charleston scored again with 2:42 remaining, making it 61-47 and ending a 13-0 Louisville run.
Barry, the son of Hall of Famer Rick Barry, led Charleston with 10 points.
Jalen Jones, who led SMU in scoring last season, announced over the weekend via Twitter that he will transfer from the program.
USA Today: Top 2013-14 story lines
10 of the craziest college basketball courts
Big XII composite schedule
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 TV Schedule
2013-14 Early-season events schedule
Duke, Duke or ...Duke.RT @martintj: @franfraschilla where do you see the dynamic duo going of Okafor and Jones??
11/10/13, 7:05 PM
Assembly Hall crowd chants "We want Cliff" in final seconds of #Illini 86-62 win over JSU #CliffAlexanderDecision
Cliff Alexander, a 6-8 senior forward from Chicago Curie High, attended KU’s women’s game against Oral Roberts on Sunday. He will sign with KU, Illinois, Memphis or DePaul on Friday on ESPNU. Alexander’s girlfriend, Caelynn Manning-Allen, is a KU freshman forward from Chicago Curie High. Wednesday is the first day of the early signing period.
1. Package-deal decision day
Word is that Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones are both hoping to sign during the early period, and that means the country’s biggest package deal should have a decision within days. All indications are that the duo still intends to go to school together, but the final destination has become unclear of late. Duke has long since been considered the front-runner, but there’s been growing chatter for Kansas, especially as it pertains to Okafor. Baylor is the dark horse, and while nobody seems to be talking about the Bears anymore, neither prospect has said they’re out of the running just yet.
2. Awaiting word from Alexander
We’re anticipating an announcement from Cliff Alexander, the nation’s third-ranked prospect. The 6-foot-8 big man took the nation by storm during the recent EYBL season and picked up offers from some of college basketball’s most prestigious programs in the process. Four of those remain in the hunt for his services. While Illinois and DePaul have been the perceived favorites, Kansas and Memphis are in the mix as well. Look for Alexander to trim one of those four off his list before his announcement -- and ultimately make his choice from a list of three final schools.
ESPN Finkelstein ($)
1. Cliff Alexander will pull a shocker and remain in the state of Illinois.
At one point, Michigan State was the favorite to land Alexander, and now the Spartans aren’t even in his final four. Then it was Kansas that moved to the forefront, but now the Jayhawks appear to have lost some momentum. The finalists entering his decision are KU, Illinois, DePaul and Memphis.
Alexander enjoys the attention, and the Illini will give him a combination of what he wants: a rabid fan base, somewhere that’s not too far from home and also a chance to be nationally relevant. I still say Alexander might have as much impact as any recruit in the Class of 2014 next season due to his size, aggressiveness and motor.
7. Kelly Oubre will wind up as the best pro in the class.
Oubre, who opted for Kansas over Kentucky, has a rare combination: The ability to shoot the ball from deep and also the athleticism to finish above the rim. Oubre also plays hard, and is more than willing to defend. As soon as Oubre sets foot in Lawrence, he should immediately step into the spot that will be vacated by Jayhawks freshman and likely one-and-done Andrew Wiggins.
10. Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones will wind up committing to Baylor. (Just kidding, folks.)
Sorry, Bears fans, but there’s no way these guys are heading to Waco, Texas. I’m not alone in saying I’d be surprised if they land anyone except for Duke. It’s difficult to rule out Kansas with the way Bill Self has been reeling in heralded players of late, but the Blue Devils have been -- and remain -- the team to beat.
The question then becomes how the Blue Devils will utilize Jones and current Duke point guardQuinn Cook, who will be a senior next season. Mike Krzyzewski isn’t bringing Jones in to wait his turn, and Cook will have two years of starting under his belt entering next season. It’s likely the pair would play together in Durham.
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