By Raphielle Johnson
While the showdown on Saturday between Weber State and Montana may have lost a little luster thanks to the Wildcats being upset by Montana State on Thursday, it certainly didn’t lack for importance. The two favorites in the Big Sky, Weber State and Montana entered the contest looking to either pull into a tie for first (Weber State) or tighten their grip on the top spot (Montana). In the end Wayne Tinkle’s Grizzlies came out on top, beating the Wildcats 76-74 behind 28 points from senior guard Will Cherry.
With the win Montana moved to 10-0 in conference play, two games ahead of the Wildcats (8-2), and their current 10-game win streak is the third-longest active streak in the country. The Grizzlies have taken off in conference play thanks in large part to the return of Cherry, who missed much of non-conference play due to a broken bone in his foot. With Cherry and the versatile Kareem Jamar on the perimeter and Mathias Ward the anchor in the post, Montana has an experienced trio that’s arguably the best in the Big Sky.
In league games the Grizzlies rank second in scoring offense and third in scoring defense, and they also rank in the top half of the conference in regards to field goal and three-point percentages (both offensively and defensively). One thing that’s set them apart from their closest challenger however has been valuing the basketball. Montana leads the Big Sky in assist-to-turnover ratio and also has a positive turnover margin (+1.6), and while the Wildcats are fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio they’re ninth in turnover margin (-2.6) (note: all stats above are for conference games only).
by Alex Schwartz
While the last week or so has not been crazy on the recruiting trail, it has certainly not been as slow as the holiday season. The rundown includes a few high-major programs adding 2013 commitments, a powerhouse getting a 2014 pledge, USA Basketball releasing some big news and more.
We begin with the 2014 pledge, which came from Joel Berry, the No. 20 prospect in the NBE Sports Class of 2014 Post-July Top 75. Berry, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Lake Highland Prep (FL), has popped for North Carolina, per Alex Kline of TheRecruitScoop.com. He is a major pickup for the Tar Heels and is the highest ranked committed player in the NBE Sports 2014 rankings.
Amida Brimah, a 6-foot-11 class of 2013 center committed to UConn, per Coast 2 Coast Hoops. Brimah attends Archbishop Carroll (FL), after transferring over from Monsignor Pace (FL). He is a bit under the radar and fairly raw, but has some definite upside and can really impact the game when he is in the groove.
Jerron Wilbut of St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy (WI) is off the board to Seton Hall, according to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. Wilbut is a 6-foot-3 class of 2013 shooting guard who is in a post-graduate year after attending Downers Grove South (IL).
Sticking with the news on ZagsBlog.com and the current BIG EAST, Rutgers picked up a commitment from South Kent (Conn.) point guard Shane Rector. The 6-foot-1 Rector is the first commit in the 2013 class for Mike Rice and the Scarlet Knights.
By Raphielle Johnson
Just over a week ago Stew Morrill’s Utah State Aggies had the look of a team poised to contend for another WAC title, having won 13 straight games since losing to Saint Mary’s in their second game of the season.
What a difference a week makes.
The Aggies’ two road losses pale in comparison to the fact that they will be without two of their top three scorers for quite some time, with leading scorer Preston Medlin ruled out 6-8 weeks with a fractured wrist and forward Kyisean Reed done for the year with a torn ACL. In losses at New Mexico State and Denver last week the Aggies averaged 54.0 points per game, well below their season average of 70.4 points per game.
Utah State also averaged 14.5 turnovers per game, which is two more than their season average (12.5). In the loss at New Mexico State each team turned the ball over 14 times, with Utah State’s 39% shooting proving to be the difference. But the turnovers proved to be far more problematic in their loss at Denver, as the Pioneers turned the ball over just three times to USU’s 15 and tallied 17 points off turnovers.
by Alex Schwartz
MIAMI – The 18th annual Dr. MLK “Stop the Violence” Basketball Classic took place at Miami Central (FL) High School over the past couple days. NBE Sports was in the gym for five of the games on Saturday to see some of the top teams and players from South Florida.
Wadley Mompremier of Miami Senior was the leading scorer in the five games NBE Sports saw, but that is not the only reason he garnered Top Performer honors. A 6-foot-9 power forward who has signed with Ohio University, Mompremier has made some impressive strides in his game since the summer. The class of 2013 prospect is still a bit raw, but the strides in his game are quite evident. He scored off some nice alley-oop plays and consistently used his height to his advantage. Mompremier has superb length to go along with a body that can still add some muscle. The future Bobcat rebounds the ball pretty well and can even grab some boards at the offensive end. Mompremier also displayed the ability to step out and knock down a shot from 3-point range with a pretty nice looking stroke. It was clear on Saturday that Mompremier has a chance to be a superb player down the road in the MAC and Ohio fans should be excited about this pickup.
By Raphielle Johnson
Two teams, Cal Poly and Hawai’i, entered last week’s action undefeated in Big West play with both have to play a pair of road games. And by the end of the weekend the Mustangs and Warriors sat at 3-2 in the standings as life on the road proved to be as difficult as anticipated. If anything the results were more proof that the Big West race, which was ceded to Long Beach State in many circles before the season began, is one that’s poised to go right down to the wire.
Dan Monson’s 49ers enter this week on top of the conference standings with a 4-1 mark, and one of their victories last week came at the expense of Hawai’i. In the 76-72 win on Saturday sophomore point guard Mike Caffey led the way with 18 points and six assists, but just as important were the 27 points supplied off the bench by guards Peter Pappageorge (15) and Deng Deng (12). With players such as James Ennis and Tony Freeland in the front court and Keala King being another capable perimeter scorer, Long Beach State has the tools needed to repeat as Big West champions.
But they won’t go without their challengers, as Cal State Fullerton and Pacific are both 3-1 in league play. The Titans are led by guards D.J. Seeley and Kwame Vaughn, and they get their first shot at the 49ers at home this Saturday. As for Bob Thomason’s Tigers, they’ve been a much improved team offensively in their final season in the Big West (they’re moving to the WCC). In wins over UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly last week Pacific averaged 78.5 points per game, and for the season they rank second in the conference in field goal percentage (48.2%) and turnovers (11.3).
by Alex Schwartz
After a long swoon during the holiday season, things have picked back up in a hurry on the recruiting trail. One of the nation’s best big men made his pledge and several, as did a top-notch junior guard and several other players.
Dakari Johnson of Montverde Academy (FL) became yet another part of the star-studded Kentucky recruiting class. The 6-foot-10 class of 2013 center picked the Wildcats over Georgetown and Syracuse.
Johnson had been ranked No. 3 in the NBE Sports Class of 2014 Post-July Top 75, but he has since reclassified up to 2013. UK already has four additional top-15 commits in the NBE Sports Class of 2013 Post-July Top 125, as John Calipari is putting together his, if not the best class yet.
By Raphielle Johnson
Before the season began the question within some circles of west coast basketball was which league would grab more NCAA tournament bids: the Pac-12, which has received a total of eight bids in the last three seasons, or the Mountain West? With conference play beginning this week and six teams with at least 12 victories, the Mountain West enters January in position to at the very least duplicate its haul from last season (four bids).
Of course there are the usual suspects (New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV), and with Colorado State (13-2), Boise State (12-2) and undefeated Wyoming (14-0) looking good the Mountain West may be able to grab a fifth NCAA bid. Wyoming doesn’t have the greatest profile, with their best win being a home triumph over then-ranked Colorado, but at 14-0 Larry Shyatt’s team could find themselves in position to grab a bid if they can go .500 in conference play with a couple of those wins coming over the expected (in the preseason) contenders.
One issue for the Cowboys, who open with a home game against Boise State on Wednesday night, is the fact that senior guard Luke Martinez is out with a broken bone in his right hand. That puts more on the plate of Derrious Gilmore, who was averaging 11.8 points per game through 13 games. With Leonard Washington and Larry Nance Jr. inside Wyoming should be able to hold their own in that regard, and if another perimeter scorer can step up in Martinez’s absence they have a shot.
Colorado State reached the NCAA tournament last season and the addition of 7-footer Colton Iverson has made them a more formidable outfit in the paint, as seniors Pierce Hornung and Greg Smith continue to play well in their assigned roles. The key for the Rams: shooting better from the perimeter, as their 34.7% mark from three ranks 7th in the conference. Shooting hasn’t been an issue for Leon Rice’s team however, as Boise State leads the Mountain West in both field goal and three-point percentage. And when you’ve got Derrick Marks and Anthony Drmic leading the way that should come as no surprise.
Given the battles that are sure to occur in conference play it’s tough to expect all six teams to end up in the field of 68 come Selection Sunday. But if anything, the Mountain West’s hot start shows that many may have underestimated the depth of this conference in assuming that four bids would be the max. Which teams will be left standing come March? The answers begin to trickle in on Wednesday night.
Player of the Week: Wyoming forward Leonard Washington
Washington led the Cowboys to a 59-56 win over SMU last week in their only game of the week, scoring 13 of the Pokes’ final 17 points. Washington tallied 19 points and 11 rebounds as Wyoming handed the Mustangs their first home loss of the season.
Schedule (Wednesday – Saturday)
9 PM Nevada at Air Force
10 PM Boise State at No. 25 Wyoming (ROOT)
10 PM No. 24/19 UNLV at No. 25 New Mexico (CBSSN)
11:30 PM No. 16/15 San Diego State at Fresno State (TWCSN)
3 PM Fresno State at No. 25 New Mexico
6 PM No. 25 Wyoming at Nevada
8 PM Colorado State at No. 16/15 San Diego State (NBCSN)
10 PM Air Force at No. 24/19 UNLV (TWCSN)
Players of the Week: Weber State guard Scott Bamforth and Southern Utah guard Damon Heuir
Bamforth led the way for the Wildcats in two Big Sky victories, which included a season-high 22 points in their win over Northern Colorado. In wins over the Bears and North Dakota the senior averaged 20.5 points and 3.0 assists per game, shooting 10-of-15 from beyond the arc. Heuir was lights out in the Thunderbirds’ lone game last week, scoring a season’s best 30 points in Southern Utah’s win over Northern Arizona.
EWU loses leading scorer Crosgile: As if things couldn’t get any worse for Eastern Washington. Last week brought about the decision of leading scorer Justin Crosgile to transfer in order to be closer to his 3-year old son. Crosgile, who began his career at Saint Joseph’s, averaged 14.7 points per game for the Eagles this season (ranking 4th in the conference). With Collin Chiverton having to deal with the passing of his mother earlier in the season things have gone anything but smooth for the Eagles, and with Crosgile leaving the road to qualifying for the Big Sky tournament became even tougher.
Schedule (Thursday – Saturday; all games on Big Sky TV unless noted otherwise)
9:05 PM Northern Arizona at Eastern Washington
9:05 PM Weber State at Southern Utah
9:05 PM Montana State at Northern Colorado (Altitude)
9:05 PM Montana at North Dakota
10:35 PM Sacramento State at Portland State
4:05 PM Montana State at North Dakota
6:35 PM Montana at Northern Colorado (Altitude)
9:05 PM Sacramento State at Eastern Washington
9:05 PM Idaho State at Southern Utah
10:35 PM Northern Arizona at Portland State
Player of the Week: Hawai’i guard Brandon Jawato
The freshman was on fire in the Warriors’ 76-61 win over UC Riverside as he made all seven of his shots from beyond the arc in scoring 21 points. For the week Jawato averaged 16.0 points per game.
Warriors make first conference trip to the mainland: Gib Arnold’s Hawai’i squad sits atop the league standings (tied with Cal Poly at 3-0) but that unblemished mark comes with a caveat: the Warriors have yet to play a conference road game. That will change this weekend as they take on two of the other expected contenders for the title, visiting UC Irvine on Wednesday night and Long Beach State Saturday. Last week Arnold went with freshmen Manroop Clair and Brandon Jawato as his starting backcourt and they played well, something that will have to continue if the Warriors are to be successful on the road. And classmate Isaac Fotu has been one of the Big West’s best newcomers, which has helped matters.
Schedule (Wednesday – Saturday)
10 PM Cal State Fullerton at Cal State Bakersfield
10 PM Cal State Northridge at Long Beach Stat e
11 PM Hawai’i at UC Irvine (ESPNU)
10 PM Cal Poly at UC Davis
10 PM UCSB at Pacific
7 PM Cal State Northridge at UC Irvine (FS Prime Ticket)
7 PM Hawai’i at Long Beach State
9 PM UC Riverside at Cal State Fullerton
10 PM Cal Poly at Pacific
10 PM UCSB at UC Davis
Player of the Week: Arizona State forward Carrick Felix
In wins over Utah and Colorado the senior averaged 18.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, which includes a double-double (17 points, 13 rebounds) in Sunday’s win over the Buffaloes. Four of Felix’s nine career games of scoring 20 points or more have come this season.
Colorado suffers tough loss then fails to bounce back: You’ll have a hard time finding people who don’t believe that Colorado was robbed last Thursday, as a Sabatino Chen three-pointer as time expired was ruled to have been released late. The end result was a 92-83 overtime win for No. 4 Arizona, a game that head coach Tad Boyle and his players hope doesn’t come back to haunt them on Selection Sunday. But of the two losses in Arizona the one that could prove more problematic was their 65-56 loss to Arizona State on Sunday night, with the tandem of Carrick Felix and Jordan Bachynski outplaying Andre Roberson and Josh Scott inside. With the LA schools visiting Boulder this week the Buffaloes cannot afford a split if they’re to be a factor in the Pac-12 race.
Schedule (Wednesday – Sunday)
10 PM Washington State at Stanford (P12N)
11 PM Washington at California (ESPN2)
9 PM No. 4 Arizona at Oregon (ESPN2)
9:30 PM UCLA at Utah (P12N)
10 PM USC at Colorado (ESPNU)
11:30 PM Arizona State at Oregon State (P12N)
Noon UCLA at Colorado (P12N)
4 PM Washington State at California (P12N)
6 PM USC at Utah (P12N)
8 PM No. 4 Arizona at Oregon State (ESPNU)
11 PM Washington at Stanford (FSN)
9 PM Arizona State at Oregon (P12N)
Player of the Week: Gonzaga forward Kelly Olynyk
Arguably the most improved player in the country, Olynyk put together another solid week to grab Player of the Week honors. In road wins over then-No. 22 Oklahoma State, Pepperdine and Santa Clara the redshirt junior averaged 23.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
Road mojo not there for LMU last week: Max Good’s Loyola Marymount Lions were the best team in the WCC when it came to winning league games on the road last season, going 7-1 in such contests. That hasn’t carried over into the 2012-13 campaign however, as LMU lost games at BYU and Saint Mary’s last week. There’s no shame in dropping those two contests but at 7-8 on the season should there be concern that the Lions may not reach postseason play after going to the CIT last year? If Anthony Ireland, Ashley Hamilton and the rest of the Lions are to get going they have to shoot better, as LMU ranks 8th in the WCC in field goal percentage and 6th in three-point percentage. And when a team is also struggling defensively as LMU is (7th and 8th in those categories as a defense) the shooting woes become all the more problematic.
Schedule (Thursday – Saturday)
9 PM Pepperdine at BYU (BYUtv)
10 PM San Diego at San Francisco (WCCsports.com)
10 PM Santa Clara at Loyola Marymount (WCCsports.com)
11 PM Saint Mary’s at No. 8/9 Gonzaga (ESPN2)
4:30 PM BYU at Santa Clara (TWCSN/CSNCA/ROOT)
10 PM Portland at Loyola Marymount (WCCsports.com)
10 PM San Diego at Pepperdine (WCCsports.com)
11 PM San Francisco at Saint Mary’s (CSNCA)
Player of the Week: Utah State guard Preston Medlin
In three games (all victories) for the Aggies, Medlin averaged 20.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest. In the 81-57 win over Texas State the senior guard hit a season-high five three-pointers on his way to scoring 21 points and grabbing six rebounds.
New Mexico State’s road struggles continue in league play: Beating Marvin Menzies’ team in Las Cruces has proved to be a tough task this season, as the Aggies boast a 7-1 record at the Pan American Center (rival New Mexico being the lone defeat). On the road however? Not so much, as New Mexico State is 0-2 in WAC road games and 1-6 overall. The Aggies were able to bounce back from defeats at the hands of UT Arlington (68-47) and Louisiana Tech (81-72) with home wins over UTSA and Texas State, but if they’re to be considered a true contender New Mexico State has to improve on the road. New Mexico State has scored more than 65 points on the road just once, that being the loss at Louisiana Tech.
Schedule (Thursday – Sunday)
8 PM Louisiana Tech at Texas State
8 PM UT Arlington at UTSA
10 PM New Mexico State at Seattle (ROOT)
10:05 PM Denver at Idaho
9:05 PM San Jose State at Utah State
3 PM UT Arlington at Texas State
6:30 PM Denver at Seattle (ROOT)
7 PM Louisiana Tech at UTSA
10:05 PM New Mexico State at Idaho
*********Follow NBE Sports on Twitter: http://twitter.com/NBESports*****
The 2013 Big East Tournament will be an end of an era at Madison Square Garden this March. Tickets are certain to sell out once again, but you can guarantee your place at what will certainly be a memorable event. Below are links to buy tickets to any and all sessions. Order early to secure the tickets or Purchase Event Tickets to any event with our unique partnership with TicketNetwork.com!
Pitt needed to dominate somebody after their two straight losses to start Big East play– at home against Cincinnati and at Rutgers.
It was just icing on the cake that it was Georgetown on the road in basically a 30-point shellacking. Georgetown has problems, especially offensively. JT3 would probably be better served by isolating Otto Porter as much as possible and letting him try and go to work and create for himself and others from the mid-post area. But this blurb is about Pitt and what they need to do to build on this win and not fall back to where they were before this result (we’ll tackle the Hoyas and their issues at a later date).
It’s never been more evident that this Pittsburg team needs to play with pace as much as possible. James Robinson and Tray Woodall both make good decisions in transition and when they push the pace it tends to give athletic shooters like Durand Johnson (who needs to continue to see his minutes increase) and JJ Moore shots in rhythm off the secondary break or the chance to attack the rim on the hard, desperate closeouts those kind of situations create. Playing with pace also counters the areas where Pitt can struggle. Easy baskets are good for this team because in the half-court they often settle for late-clock contested three point attempts that lead to bad results.
by Alex Schwartz
HACKENSACK, N.J. – Eight teams made their way to Hackensack (NJ) High School on Sunday for the New Year’s Jump-Off. The quartet of games featured only teams from the Garden State, but there was a great deal of talent on display, including a few players headed to high-major programs.
Reggie Cameron of Hudson Catholic is the easy choice of who turned in the day’s best performance. The 6-foot-8 small forward dropped 30 points and may well have had more if he shot more the fourth quarter had the game been close. Cameron, ranked No. 62 in the NBE Sports Class of 2013 Post-July Top 125, also grabbed 12 rebounds, distributed the ball well and made his presence felt on defense. A big-time shooter from long range, the future Georgetown Hoya really had his shot going in this game. He has such a smooth stroke and possesses the size to get it off over most defenders. Cameron also scored from midrange and at the rim. The senior even displayed the ability to play the point, which is something he has not really done before. He blocked shots, found open teammates for buckets and was the best low post player in the game, despite being a three man. Cameron led his team to a 70-53 victory over Pope John XXIII and put on in absolute show in his home city of Hackensack.
By Raphielle Johnson
UCLA entered Friday’s game against then-No. 7 Missouri having won four straight games, but with their best non-conference victory coming at the expense of Texas the Bruins needed to beat the Tigers for the sake of their NCAA tournament resume. And that they did, as Shabazz Muhammad scored 27 points and knocked down two big three-pointers in overtime to push UCLA past Missouri 97-94. The Bruins were out-rebounded 50-36 by Missouri but they made up for it by playing very well on the offensive end of the floor.
As a team UCLA shot 50.6% from the field and turned the ball over six times, and when compared to Missouri’s 17 turnovers it’s easy to see why the Bruins attempted just one less shot than the visitors despite what happened on the glass. UCLA also took advantage of the foul line, making 13 of their 16 free throws while Missouri shot 6-of-10. Travis Wear added 22 points and nine rebounds, Jordan Adams 12 points and Larry Drew II dished out ten assists in the win, which gave both UCLA and the Pac-12 a nice resume boost heading into conference play.
by Alex Schwartz
First off, NBE Sports would like to say Happy Holidays to all of our readers. Hopefully you all enjoy the season!
As for the hoops, there was one big-time commitment that came down in the past week as well as a few other pieces of news.
Jabari Parker, ranked No. 3 in the NBE Sports Class of 2013 Post-July Top 125, committed to the Duke Blue Devils. Parker selected Duke over BYU, Florida, Michigan State, and Stanford. The 6-foot-8 small forward from Simeon (IL) is a huge pickup for Mike Krzyzewski and Co. and is the top ranked committed player in the nation not going to an SEC School.
Parker is the third member of Duke’s class in the top 45 of the NBE Sports rankings. He joins No. 29 Matt Jones of DeSoto (TX) and No. 41 Semi Ojeleye of Ottawa (KS).
Jevon Thomas of St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy (WI) committed to Kansas State, per ESPN.com’s Reggie Rankin. Thomas is a 5-foot-11 class of 2013 point guard from New York who is in a post-graduate year at SJNMA. He had originally committed to St. John’s, then decommitted and eventually pledged to Dayton. Instead of heading to Dayton, Thomas went to prep school and is now bound for KSU.
By Raphielle Johnson
Headed into the holiday weekend it could be argued that the question of which team is the best team in the western United States was still up for debate. No. 3 Arizona entered as the highest ranked team in the national polls, but another year of Pac-12 teams incurring losses that did nothing to help the league’s profile may have led to some skepticism from outside circles. Add in the fact that No. 13 Gonzaga got off to a good start and the Mountain West has at least five teams that have proven their worth in the first six weeks of the season and there was definitely room for debate.
But the Wildcats may have offered the first definitive answer in this debate, although it took a game-saving blocked shot by Nick Johnson to hold off No. 17 San Diego State in the title game of the Diamond Head Classic. Arizona is now 12-0 on the season, their best start since the 1987-88 team went 35-3, and just one of two teams in the western United States that is undefeated. The other is 12-0 Wyoming, but with their resume lacking wins equal to Arizona’s victories over then-No. 5 Florida and the Aztecs it’s tough to put Larry Shyatt’s team in the same category.
So why would Arizona merit the label of the region’s best team despite the fact that their two best wins haven’t exactly been dominant? Their ceiling.
Those three talented young big men at Sean Miller’s disposal, while there were flashes of the immense talent that Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski all possess, all have a great amount of growth to realize. Ashley posted a double-double (16 points, ten rebounds) in a blowout victory over East Tennessee State while Tarczewski finished with eight points and 13 rebounds in a 69-50 semifinal win over Miami, and Jerrett was for the most part quiet in Hawai’i. As the season wears on these three will be challenged by the likes of Colorado (Andre Roberson, Josh Scott), Oregon (Arsalan Kazemi, Tony Woods) and Oregon State (Eric Moreland, Joe Burton), which should help them come March.
But the perimeter play is where Arizona separates itself from the rest of the Pac-12. Mark Lyons has been criticized by some as not being a “true” point guard but the fact of the matter is that the senior playmaker is just what this group needed at the one. Johnson has been their best player to this point in the season, and with the skill/poise of himself, Solomon Hill and even Kevin Parrom off the bench Arizona has the players needed to combat Lyons’ occasional head-scratching decisions.
Arizona’s 15.1 turnovers per game rank 11th in the Pac-12 and that’s clearly an area they need to improve upon as conference play approaches. The answers that the Wildcats may have should they figure out the turnover issues and get the freshmen bigs playing at a higher level make Arizona the team to beat out west right now. But as the season approaches March there will be others that have something to say, with Gonzaga and the top of the Mountain West having the ability to make a charge at the top spot.
Player of the Week: Oregon State forward Eric Moreland
Moreland posted double-doubles in both of the Beavers’ wins last week, going for 14 points and ten rebounds in a 69-53 win over Howard and following that up with 20 and 11 in Oregon State’s 86-79 win over San Diego.
How much has UCLA improved? Ben Howland’s Bruins have won four straight since dropping a 78-69 decision to San Diego State on December 1, but truth be told a lot more will be learned about the Bruins on Friday night when they host No. 7 Missouri. The Tigers have one of the best point guards in the country (if not the best) in Phil Pressey, and Frank Haith’s team is coming off of a tough win over Illinois in the Busch Braggin’ Rights game. But the biggest question for UCLA is whether or not their front court can control Missouri’s Laurence Bowers and Alex Oriakhi, who are physical enough to make life difficult for Kyle Anderson, the Wear twins and Tony Parker. The perimeter battles will not disappoint, as UCLA can call on Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams, but if the Bruins don’t keep Missouri off the boards it will be a long night at Pauley Pavilion.
Schedule (Friday – Monday)
9:30 PM College of Idaho at Utah (P12N)
10 PM No. 7 Missouri at UCLA (ESPN2)
2 PM Coppin State at Arizona State (P12N)
2 PM Hartford at Colorado (P12N)
4 PM Towson at Oregon State (P12N)
6 PM Washington State vs. Idaho State (P12N)
7:30 PM Washington at Connecticut (ESPN2)
8 PM Harvard at California (P12N)
10:30 PM Lafayette at Stanford (P12N)
7 PM Dayton at USC (P12N)
5 PM Texas-Pan American at Oregon State (P12N)
7 PM Nevada at Oregon (P12N)
Players of the Week: Weber State guard Jordan Richardson and Montana forward Mathias Ward
The two favorites to win the Big Sky opened league play with two road wins last week, and as a result a member of each team received Player of the Week honors. Richardson averaged 14.5 points and 4.0 assists per game for the Wildcats in wins over Eastern Washington and Portland State, shooting 7-of-10 from beyond the arc. Ward earned his second POTW award with averages of 14.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in Montana’s wins over Northern Arizona and Sacramento State.
Big road game for Northern Colorado: B.J. Hill’s Bears didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts, as they dropped five of their first six games. But with the beginning of conference play comes a rebirth of sorts, as a team’s performance in this portion of the schedule will determine their chances of winning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Northern Colorado plays its first four Big Sky games on the road and given their 75-66 win at North Dakota and a trip to Weber State next Thursday, Saturday’s tilt at Southern Utah is a big deal.
Both teams enter the game 1-0 in Big Sky play, and the trio of Tevin Svihovec (12.1 ppg, 2.8 apg), Derrick Barden (10.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Tate Unruh (10.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg) will need to be at their best if the Bears are to improve upon their 1-5 record in road games. Southern Utah has struggled defensively, as opponents are shooting 44.9% from the field and 40.4% from beyond the arc. If UNC can take advantage of this, they stand a good chance of getting to 2-0.
Schedule (Thursday – Saturday)
9 PM Northern Arizona at BYU (BYUtv)
8 PM Bowling Green at North Dakota (Big Sky TV)
6 PM Idaho State vs. Washington State (P12N)
9 PM Northwest Indian at Montana State (Big Sky TV)
9:05 PM Southwest at Weber State (Big Sky TV)
9:35 PM Northern Colorado at Southern Utah (Big Sky TV)
Player of the Week: Cal State Northridge guard/forward Stephan Hicks
The redshirt sophomore led the Matadors to a 76-71 win at Utah on Friday night, scoring 19 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the win. That came on the heels of a 14-point, 11-rebound showing in Northridge’s 93-63 win over San Diego Christian last Tuesday. On the season Hicks is averaging 17.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, and he ranks third in the Big West in both statistical categories.
Hawai’i goes 1-2 at the Diamond Head Classic: Gib Arnold’s Warriors essentially did what was expected of them this past weekend, soundly defeating East Tennessee State in between losses to Miami and Ole Miss. But that last result will sting a bit, as Hawai’i had a shot at beating the Rebels before falling apart down the stretch. A game that was tied at 63 with just under four minutes remaining finished 81-66, with Hawai’i accumulating more turnovers (three) than made field goals (zero) during the final 3:55.
Ole Miss would score 12 points off of turnovers in the second half while Hawai’i failed to register a single point.There’s also the fact that Ole Miss shot 60% from the field in the second half, which included a 15-of-22 performance from inside the arc (28 points in the paint). Vander Joaquim (29 points, 15 rebounds) played very well in defeat, but with Isaac Fotu battling early foul trouble the Warriors could not afford to have starters Christian Standhardinger, Manroop Clair and Brandon Jawato combine to shoot 6-of-24 given what Ole Miss was able to produce inside and off of turnovers. Look for Hawai’i to address these issues in the days leading up to their Big West opener on Saturday night.
4 PM Cal Poly at UC Riverside
7 PM Pacific at Long Beach State
10 PM UC Davis at UC Irvine
10 PM UCSB at Cal State Fullerton (ESPNU)
12:30 AM Cal State Northridge at Hawai’i
Player of the Week: Colorado State forward Pierce Hornung
Hornung won MVP honors at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic over the weekend, as he averaged 16.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per contest in four victories. Hornung, who receives the honor for the first time in his career, posted double-doubles in wins over Portland (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Virginia Tech (18 points, ten rebounds) and shot 71.4% from the field for the week.
Challenging weekend awaits New Mexico: On the heels of their loss to a road weary South Dakota State team, Steve Alford’s Lobos hit the road for a pair of key non-conference match ups. First on the docket is a trip to No. 8 Cincinnati, and with guards Cashmere Wright, Sean Kilpatrick and JaQuon Parker the Bearcats have the tools needed to give Kendall Williams, Hugh Greenwood and Tony Snell fits on the perimeter. Alex Kirk could wind up being a key figure in the paint, because even though Cincinnati has some athletes inside (Justin Jackson immediately comes to mind) they aren’t necessarily world beaters in the post.
Following Thursday’s contest is a game Monday at Saint Louis, and while the Billikens are still without guard Kwamain Mitchell they’re still a serious contender in the Atlantic 10. UNM won last year’s meeting, also played on New Year’s Eve, 64-60 but that was with Drew Gordon (18 points, nine rebounds). Jamal Fenton added ten key points off the bench, but players like Snell and Williams (combined for 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting) can’t afford to be as quiet in the rematch.
Schedule (Thursday – Monday)
9 PM New Mexico at No. 8 Cincinnati (ESPN2)
10 PM Yale at Nevada
2 PM No. 20 UNLV at North Carolina (ESPN2)
4:30 PM Adams State at Colorado State
4:30 PM Air Force vs. No. 14 Florida (FSN)
4 PM Corban College at Boise State
4 PM Sonoma State at Fresno State
7 PM Nevada at Oregon (P12N)
7:30 PM New Mexico at Saint Louis (CBSSN)
Player of the Week: Santa Clara forward Marc Trasolini
Trasolini was highly productive for the Broncos last week, as he averaged 23.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in Santa Clara’s three victories. The redshirt senior knocked down 68.4% of his shots from the field in the three games, which includes a 4-of-6 week from beyond the arc.
No. 13 Gonzaga takes on the Big 12: Mark Few has never been one to duck a challenge when it comes to non-conference scheduling, and that remains the case as the Bulldogs will face two of the better teams in the Big 12 this weekend. Friday night the Baylor Bears visit Spokane, and it will be interesting to see whether or not Baylor’s guards can tightly guard Kevin Pangos and Gonzaga’s solid shooters. The Bulldogs haven’t shown the greatest ability to beat people off the dribble to create offensive advantages, and if that remains the case against Baylor (opponents shoot 41.9% against Baylor) things could get tight at The Kennel.
On Monday evening Gonzaga visits No. 22 Oklahoma State, which to this point in the season has looked like Kansas’ biggest threat in the Big 12. Marcus Smart has been very good at the point for the Cowboys, Phil Forte is a high-level shooter and Le’Bryan Nash can pose matchup problems for any opponent he faces. Win both and Gonzaga would have a good case for landing in Salt Lake City for the first weekend of the NCAA tournament.
Schedule (Thursday – Monday)
9 PM Northern Arizona at BYU (BYUtv)
10 PM Morgan State at Loyola Marymount
10 PM Rhode Island at Saint Mary’s
8 PM Baylor at No. 13 Gonzaga (ESPN2)
10:30 PM Fresno Pacific at Pepperdine
12 PM Santa Clara at No. 1 Duke (ESPN2)
2 PM Virginia Tech at BYU (ESPNU)
10 PM Cal State Bakersfield at Loyola Marymount
10 PM Dominican (CA) at San Francisco
10:30 PM Morgan State at San Diego
10:30 PM Texas Pan-American at Portland
5:30 PM Yale at Saint Mary’s (ESPN2)
6 PM No. 13 Gonzaga at No. 22 Oklahoma State
8 PM Harvard at Saint Mary’s (ESPN2)
Player of the Week: Utah State forward Kyisean Reed
Reed led Utah State to a 3-0 week at the World Vision Challenge, averaging 16.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per contest. In the Aggies’ 79-72 win over Nicholls State, Reed tallied 20 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high four blocked shots.
Preseason favorites open league play on the road: Just two days of activity on the WAC schedule this week but they’re important ones, as the conference embarks on the journey that is league play. And things won’t be easy for Denver, New Mexico State or Denver as all three are on the road to take on the members located in either Texas or Louisiana. The toughest opener: that “honor” goes to the Pioneers, who visit a Louisiana Tech team on Saturday that’s been among the stingiest in the WAC as opponents are scoring just 64.5 points per game.
But that distinction does come with a caveat, as Louisiana Tech is eighth in the conference in field goal percentage defense (40.8%). Guards Raheem Appleby and Cordarius Johnson have been one of the best tandems in the WAC, which will pose a challenge for Denver forwards Royce O’Neale and Chris Udofia. New Mexico State takes its shot at Louisiana Tech in Ruston on Monday night, while Utah State visits UTSA and Texas State. That schedule may give Stew Morrill’s team the early edge given Texas State being predicted to finish in the lower region of the WAC standings, but it will all even out. Such is the advantage of having a full round-robin.
Schedule (Saturday – Monday)
5 PM San Jose State at Texas State
7 PM Utah State at UTSA
8 PM New Mexico State at UT-Arlington
8 PM Denver at Louisiana Tech (ESPN3)
10 PM Idaho at Seattle (ROOT)
3 PM Denver at UT-Arlington
3 PM San Jose State at UTSA
5 PM Utah State at Texas State
8 PM New Mexico State at Louisiana Tech
*********Follow NBE Sports on Twitter: http://twitter.com/NBESports*****
The holidays are rapidly approaching, why not get that sports fan on your list something special. Order now for the 2013 Big East Tournament as it will an end of an era at Madison Square Garden this March. Below are links to buy tickets to any all sessions. Order early to secure the tickets to the special sports fan on your list or get yourself that special personalized gift!
by Alex Schwartz
There have not been many high-major commitments of late, but there has still been a fair amount of news in the high school hoops world lately. In addition, one of the nation’s top prospects is set to announce his choice today.
First off, Jabari Parker is set to announce his college choice today on ESPNU, as originally reported by Joe Henrickson of the Chicago Sun-Times. Parker is a 6-foot-8 small forward out of Simeon (IL) who is ranked No. 3 in the NBE Sports Class of 2013 Post-July Top 125. KSL.com’s Greg Wrubell quoted Jabari’s father, Sonny Parker, as saying, “I think it will probably be between Duke and Michigan State.”
Samford landed a commitment from Jordan Capps, per Scout.com’s Evan Daniels. Capps is a class of 2013 small forward prospect from Peachtree Ridge (GA) who has some solid size at 6-foot-6.
St. Peter’s dipped into the JuCo ranks for a 2013 commitment, according to Brad Winton of JuCoRecruiting.com. He reported that the Peacocks landed Tyler Gaskins, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Lawson State Community College (AL).
By Raphielle Johnson
For many teams across the country the end of the fall semester takes on added importance, as mid-year transfers are completing the year in residency the NCAA requires of student-athletes that go from one four-year school to another. While the governing body has become a bit more lenient in the handing out of waivers that make players eligible immediately, the numbers tend to be tilted in the direction of having to sit out. And if a program enters the season shorthanded, those mid-year players become even more important.
That’s the case with a few of the teams on the west coast, with Long Beach State immediately coming to mind. The plight of Dan Monson’s club has been discussed here ad nauseum, as the reigning Big West champions played the bulk of their non-conference schedule with just nine available players. And while Loyola Marymount transfer Edgar Garibay was available in the 49ers’ 89-70 loss at UCLA Keala King and Tony Freeland weren’t, and that made a big difference against the Bruins. Garibay played just six minutes in the loss, but truth be told King and Freeland are the mid-year additions expected to have a major impact for the 49ers.
by Alex Schwartz
GLENSIDE, Pa. – Five teams from New York City, four from Philadelphia and one from New Jersey made their way to Arcadia University yesterday for the sixth annual VILLA Classic. Although most of the games ended with lopsided scores, there was still some nice talent on display.
There are several players who could stake claim to this honor, but we are going to go with Brandon Austin. The future Providence Friar was not amongst the players who dropped 20+ points, but he turned in the best all-around performance. The versatile senior from Imhotep Charter (PA) is capable of playing multiple positions, but, as he showed on Saturday, he is best suited at the point guard spot. Austin is capable of both scoring the ball himself—he finished with 18 points against Lincoln (NY)—and facilitating things for others. He runs the offense quite adeptly and is a superb defender. The 6-foot-6 Austin locked up and forced steals, but he was also able to block shots around the rim. His combination of size, skill and length allows him to impact the game in multiple ways. Additionally, the No. 47 ranked player in the NBE Sports Class of 2013 Top 125 has a nice feel for the game.
By Ray Mernagh
Karvel Anderson had just connected on his fourth consecutive three-pointer when he turned, smiled, and cackled the way that, well, any of us would if we had just happened to hit four consecutive three-pointers in a highly competitive Division One basketball game. As Anderson ran back to play defense, I looked directly across the court at Ohio coach Jimmy Christian who was most definitely not cackling. Christian’s distorted face was twisted up in an expressive equation of angry + frustrated x helpless = powerless.
Yeah, Anderson’s first look of the night might have been wide open, but his remaining seven looks from distance were all contested by Bobcat hands. And it didn’t matter. On this night, nothing any defender could muster was going to deter Karvel Anderson. He was gettin’ buckets and nobody was stopping him. Anderson was a perfect 10-10 from the floor (8-8 from deep) for a career high 28 points. His last make was a dagger three-pointer (of course) that put Robert Morris up 80-73 and assured the Ohio fans that came to Moon Township in force that they could head for the parking lot — their Bobcats would be tasting defeat for the first time this season.
By Matt Whitfield
One of the more intriguing prospects at this past weekend’s National High School Hoops Festival at DeMatha High School was Oak Hill sophomore guard Terrence Phillips. Phillips is not yet a known commodity in the recruiting world, but expect that to change in the future as he is the half-brother of former Oak Hill standout and current Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings.
“I’m a little different from Brandon,” Phillips told NBE over the weekend. “I’m not much of a scorer. I do the little things. I know how to take charges, get the rebounds, and just do the little things out there.”
Only a sophomore and playing on one of the best teams in the nation, Phillips played sparingly in Saturday night’s loss to Paul VI (VA). However, when Phillips did play you could see his confident demeanor on the court. Phillips, who measures in at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, made crisp passes and looked very poised on the court.
By Raphielle Johnson
With 15:16 remaining in the first half of UNLV’s 76-75 win over California on Sunday evening the one thing the Runnin’ Rebels could not afford to have happen did. Junior forward Mike Moser went down with a dislocated right elbow, and the absolute worst was feared for UNLV’s best returnee. Dave Rice received “good” news in regards to the timeframe for Moser’s recovery, as no MRI was needed and there’s the thought that Moser could be back in time for the start of Mountain West play next month.
But the question remains: who will step up with Moser out of the lineup?
UNLV received a strong answer in the affirmative from freshman Anthony Bennett, as he tallied 25 points and 13 rebounds in the victory. That came on the heels of putting up 18 points and six rebounds in a win at Portland, a game Moser missed due to a hip flexor. Bennett is leading the way with averages of 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per contest, so he’s been productive even when Moser’s been on the floor. But there was another key contribution on Sunday night, one that could have an impact well into March if UNLV is fortunate.
Bryce Dejean-Jones entered Sunday’s game mired in a four-game shooting slump, scoring a total of 16 points on 5-of-25 shooting from the field (1-of-9 3PT). Dejean-Jones’ numbers on Sunday: 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting (2-of-4 3PT), providing UNLV with the boost needed to make sure Quintrell Thomas’ bucket in the final seconds proved to be the difference. Both Dejean-Jones and Katin Reinhardt will be key figures offensively for the Rebels with Anthony Marshall having to run the show, thus turning him into more of a distributor.
By Matt Whitfield
Rob Fulford’s Huntington Prep basketball machine has the biggest name in the high school and prep ranks with Class of 2013 superstar Andrew Wiggins anchoring his team. However, Fulford now has another star waiting in the wings in Montaque Gill-Caesar.
Only a sophomore, the 6-foot-6 Gill-Caesar already has the body of a college freshman and the Canadian first caught the eye of NBE over the summer on the AAU trail with CIA Bounce at the Adidas Invitational. NBE’s Brian Bosworth was impressed with the relative unknown at the time as Gill-Caesar had a major breakout in a tough loss to the loaded Compton Magic 15U team. The small forward is a supreme athlete but doesn’t just rely on athleticism to dominate offensively and showed a wide variety of offensive weapons over the summer as he hit pull-up jumpers using 1-2 dribbles in both directions and looked both confident and comfortable doing so. We even saw him hit a 15-foot fadeaway from the low post and then he hammered in a tip-in dunk on the next possession. He looks like the next big star to come out of the well known Canadian AAU program and Huntington Prep looks to be the beneficiary in the states of his talent. He has decent reflexes and good wingspan for a player his size. Gill-Caesar describes himself as a slasher on the offensive end.
John Groce didn’t like what he was seeing with 7:06 left in the game last night so he did what a lot of coaches do, he called a 30 second timeout.
Gary Bell Jr’s three-pointer for Gonzaga had just cut the Illini lead to 68-64 and Tracy Abrams looked hesitant setting up the offense as the “Kennel” was going insane for the first time in ages. After all, Groce’s crew had grabbed this game by the neck and controlled it throughout the second half. So Groce called for his dry erase board and flipped the script on his first year squad. The over caffeinated Groce — who is normally stomping his feet, pacing the sidelines and screaming for a ref’s attention — was the epitome of calm as he drew up what he wanted coming out of the timeout. You could see his mind clicking, firing on all cylinders and taking in how truly big this moment was for his squad.
They were 9-0 and up on the road against a Zags team ranked #10 in the country. A Zags team, by the way, that everyone was already crowning as Few’s best ever and a final four contender (yawn, heard it before, holler at me in March if they’re still balling on weekend number two).
Not only were the pundits knighting the Zags, they were also throwing some salt on the Orange Crush and their incredible start. Arguments varied from they won a weak Maui field -to- they shoot too many 3′s-to- the one the Illini had heard all week, wait until they go into Spokane and get snapped back to reality.
So Groce called the timeout, told his stud Brandon Paul to check back into the game, and drew up a horns set.
That set turned into a high ball screen for Paul set by Sam McLaurin after Paul had probed the opposite side of the free throw line and told D.J. Richardson to drop into the lane. Elias Harris didn’t stay nearly close enough to McLaurin as he set the screen, plus he hedged out on Paul in a manner that a 145 pound high school guard could’ve handled without much trouble. Meanwhile Gary Bell Jr went under the screen and when Paul found himself all alone at the three-point arc, he did what Brandon Paul does… he raised up and nailed it.
Gonzaga’s response on the next possession was to refuse to play inside out. Instead, the Zags got a contested three point attempt that missed.
Illinois came down and ran the same set. This time Paul passed on the shot and his squad ran through about 29 seconds of the shot clock. With 6 seconds left on the clock, Paul found himself up top isolated with a big, Kelly Olynyk. Paul attacked him off the bounce and finished at the rim for his 26th and 27th point of the night.
73-64 Illinois with 5:46 left.
Gonzaga cut it to 3, 73-70 a few minutes later and this time Tracy Abrams was the guard who responded, attacking his man off the bounce for a bucket.
75-70 Illini with a little over 3 minutes left.
Paul finally sent the Dawgs to their crate without dinner with another drive to the rim — again, Harris was less than hearty in his objection to Paul’s path — which he finished while being fouled by Olynyk.
Olynyk finally received a pass underneath and instead of going up strong, he faded a little, looking like he expected contact.
Man’s game, no boys allowed.
Abrams, a sophomore, hit two free throws to put the Illini up 80-71.
Illinois came into Gonzaga and controlled the home team.
John Groce has an experienced, grown up group who are fully invested in his philosophy and hungry for success. They get into you defensively and rip the ball out of your hands. They recognize mismatches and attack them offensively. They push the ball. They believe.
Brad Stevens tried to tell everybody that this bunch was for real after getting blitzed by them in Maui.
Folks seemed skeptical.
Please, no more skepticism.
Illinois will be in the mix all year in the Big Ten and will challenge for the top spot.
Brandon Paul will be in the mix for player of the year.
The final score was 85-74 Illinois.
Add one more contender to the list in the already loaded Big Ten.
The Illini are for real.