College Basketball

Highlights from the Hustler

I haven’t posted in almost a month for two reasons:

1) I’m buried in work for my baseball preview, which is due to come out late next month. I’ll give out a sneak peek of my top 50 prospects, now an annual tradition, in the next four weeks.

2) I’ve been writing a lot for the Vanderbilt Hustler.

Although I’ve been updating my Hustler page, I’ll highlight my favorite articles from the past few months. I highly suggest reading the first two. (I mean I still highly suggest you read them all, but still).

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Vanderbilt freshman Jordan Sheffield is left with a 5-inch scar on his right elbow after Tommy John surgery.

February 12, 2014

Jordan Sheffield: Scarred star on the road to recovery

This is my favorite feature of 2014. Sheffield was the 6th-best recruit in the nation until he had Tommy John Surgery at the start of his senior year of high school, and that’s the main reason he came to Vanderbilt.

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December 4, 2013

Opportunity beyond football at Vanderbilt

This is my favorite feature of first semester. Here I tell the story of how Jahmel McIntosh, Jimmy Stewart, and Steven Clark made it from humble beginnings and how much a football scholarship means to them. We get into some tough stories about growing up here.

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January 21, 2013

Commodores strike gold with Derek Mason

I got to intensely cover a coaching change with Derek Mason replacing James Franklin, so this is almost necessary to share. My introduction to Mason made the front page of the Hustler.

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January 21, 2013

Young Jones brings old feel to Commodores

Damian Jones is going to be a special player for Vanderbilt men’s basketball very soon, and this is my feature on him. Despite is dominance in the paint, he’s actually a pretty goofy guy.

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Categories: College Baseball, College Basketball, College Football | Leave a comment

Champions Classic Running Diary

The best night of college basketball we’re going to see all season is on a Tuesday in November. For NBA Draft nuts like me, the Champions Classic this year is just about basketball porn.

Kentucky. Michigan State. Duke. Kansas.

It just doesn’t get any better than this. We have 15 of the top 35 draft prospects, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford, and four of the top-5 ranked teams.

I’m so excited about tonight that I’m going to keep a running diary of the games, which you can track throughout the night, with Jackson Martin of the Dirty South Sports Report:

Ben, 6:35 PM CT: I’m a little bit surprised Aaron Harrison is getting the start over Alex Poythress. Hey, if you’re upset about your lack of playing time, Alex, I know a school from your home state of Tennessee that would love to have you!

Ben, 6:46: Our first all-freshman lineup for Kentucky as Cauley-Stein is pulled for Dakari Johnson! It also just hit me that every single player on this court is younger (and way more talented) than me.

Jackson, 6:54: Michigan State looks like me playing NBA 2k14 where on defense I just keep hitting the X button. Sure, you get a ton of steals in a short period of time, but this is going to backfire eventually.

Jackson, 7:02: I don’t really buy into the thinking that you need experience to win the national championship, but early season games with an all-freshman team can get ugly. We’re seeing that on both ends with Kentucky right now.

Ben, 7:04: I’m just amazed how big Kentucky is. With the Harrison twins starting, every player is between 6-foot-6 and 7-foot. Forget offense, when this team matures by the end of the year, it’s going to be a defensive monster.

Ben, 7:07: I feel like every time I look up from my laptop, Michigan State’s on a fast break. Julius Randle’s been making some weird passes around the perimeter, so I wonder if Kentucky should just slow down the ball and let him bang in the paint.

Jackson, 7:14: Kentucky is forcing the dribble-drive offense right now and Michigan State is just bodying them up. The Wildcats look like the Harlem Globetrotters with all the rotating handoffs they’ve had at quarter-court.

Ben, 7:18: Kentucky’s already down nine points with six minutes left in the half, but they’re also in the bonus. They need to cut down their high volume of long shots and take advantage of their size and MSU’s foul situation. Their height (and talent) is going to help them rack up a lot of fouls this year.

Jackson, 7:22: Here’s why Julius Randle is my No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft: When I watch him play, he can either take the ball up the court or post up a PF on the block and not look out of place. He’s one of those rare guys who has the abilities to play 4 or 5 positions on the court.

Ben, 7:24: Sure he’s a senior, but Adreian Payne has a spot at the next level as a late first-round pick if he can consistently knock down a three. He’s got great hops, good defensive instincts, surprisingly good shooting, and most importantly, a great name.

Ben, 7:29: I’m starting to really like Gary Harris. I’m thinking he’s either a worse Bradley Beal or a better Willie Green. Probably somewhere in between.

Jackson, 7:30: Kentucky’s dribble-drive offense is creating wide-open outside shots. Young has started knocking them down, and if the Wildcats can hit those threes with any consistency this is going to be a game again real quick.

Ben, 7:37: The big difference I’m seeing so far between this Kentucky team and the championship team two years ago is defense. There’s no Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist right now (although some of the young guys could develop into similar players), but for now UK needs to get back on defense quicker. MSU is just running over them.

Ben, 7:52: Side note: I love Kanye, I love Yeezus, and I’m so happy Black Skinhead is taking over commercials and basketball arena soundtracks.

Ben, 7:55: I’m not nearly as high on Randle as Jackson is (and by that I mean I wouldn’t take him 1-1 right now), but MAN is he fun to watch. 6 straight points to open the second half capped off by a coast-to-coast drive. He’s got some serious power moves you rarely see from young guys.

Jackson, 8:13: This is what I mean. There’s going to be some time this second half where Kentucky dominates play for stretches of time. And watching those stretches shows you the true potential of this young team. They probably won’t win this game, but by the end of the year Kentucky will likely be the best team in the country.

Jackson, 8:14: Coast-to-coast for Michigan State with no dribbles. Man, that’s beautiful basketball.

Ben, 8:16: Places Kentucky needs to improve: free throw shooting (6-16), turnovers (16), assists (4 in 18 field goals), and making freshman mistakes.

Jackson, 8:19: Ben, did you just copy and paste that list from the last four years? These are the things Kentucky struggles with for half a season every year. I’ve got a feeling this is going to turn out okay for the Wildcats.

Ben, 8:21: You’re not going to beat Michigan State with iso or post-up plays. Kentucky needs a lot more ball movement and more rotations, which may not happen until the offense is more cohesive later in the year.

There aren't many true post scorers left, but Randle is one of them. And he's damn good.

There aren’t many true post scorers left, but Randle is one of them. And he’s damn good.

Jackson, 8:23: Julius Randle is a man playing college basketball. The turnovers are a problem, but it’s his first real game. Everything else he’s doing makes you see why he’s so highly touted. He will make some NBA fanbase really, really happy.

Jackson, 8:29: It’s now a three-point game with another strong finish from Randle. I will be amazed and terrified for everyone else if Kentucky can pull this game out.

Ben, 8:30: Kentucky is going to win this game. Look out.

Ben, 8:33: If Randle weren’t on this AAU Kentucky team, he’d put up numbers like another guy who wore #30, Michael Beasley. Don’t laugh, Beasley put up a 26.2-12.4-1.2-1.3-1.6 line on .543/.479/.774 shooting at K-State. R.I.P. good Michael Beasley.

Jackson, 8:47: I hate player comparisons as much as you do, Ben, but does Randle remind you of any NBA players? I’m trying to place it, but can’t quite come up with who.

Ben, 8:49: Well he just hit four straight clutch free throws towards the end of the game, so clearly not Dwight Howard!!! But in all seriousness, maybe he’s a much higher ceiling, thicker version of Chris Bosh, who, by the way, is actually a really good player. Maybe I’m thinking that because this is “The Best Draft Class Since ’03” and Bosh was the first big man off the board, but still.

Jackson, 8:57: Randle just scored over a triple-team. I have a new man crush. He is ridiculous.

Ben, 8:57: I’m going to wait until after Wiggins and Jabari go head-to-head before I decide on a man crush. And I love Dante Exum too. Dear Lord, I already love this draft class. Please tank, Horncats!

Ben, 9:02: Yes, Michigan State won and was the better team tonight. But man is Kentucky going to be scary (and so fun to watch) by the end of the year.

Ben, 9:05: The biggest problem I’m going to have all year with Kentucky is remembering which Harrison twin is which. Thank God for their different haircuts and uniform numbers.

Ben, 9:12: Wait the United Center is playing The Way I Are by Timbaland. I’m a fan.

Ben, 9:18: Congrats to Vanderbilt, earning their first win of the season in a 86-80 takedown of former Kentucky Wildcat Ryan Harrow’s Georgia State Panthers. Imagine if UK still had Harrow, too…

Ben, 9:25: I don’t like Tyler Thornton starting over Andre Dawkins and Rasheed Sulaiman for Duke. I’d like at least one ball-handler off the bench.

Ben, 9:33: Early prediction: Jabari Parker has a better college season than Andrew Wiggins. He’s a lot more polished, but when I saw Wiggins in high school, it was easy to see how talented he was. Wiggins will probably have a better pro career, but you can see the rough edges.

Ben, 9:38: “That’s (Wiggins’) first collegiate basket, and I can assure you it won’t be his last.” Thank you, Dickie V. Bring me back Jay Bilas.

Ben, 9:40: I was really wondering how you pronounce Joel Embiid’s name, and it turns out it’s what I expected: em-BEED. There are about fourteen other pronunciations you couldn’ve told me and I would’ve believe any of them.

Ben, 9:43: Ever since Wiggins reclassified into the Class of 2013, Jabari Parker has been thrown a lot of shade. But dude can play. Just in the last five minutes, he hit a pair of threes (one was an and-one), blocked a shot, and stole a pass.

Ben, 9:48: Good to see Wiggins come inside to grab an offensive rebound and put it back in. At Huntington, he would often drift along the perimeter waiting for the ball, since his team had really good guards and big men. He has even more talented teammates at KU, so he’ll really want to show his assertiveness here.

Ben, 9:54: Quinn Cook was Duke’s most improved player last year, and Amile Jefferson may be that guy this year. He’s beefed up a bit–enough that he’s playing a de facto center for Duke–and looks a lot more comfortable in the lane. He was pushed around a lot last year.

Ben, 10:04: Wiggins has been quiet (and on the bench) for most of the game. Still, Randle and Parker look just as good as advertised–if not better. As Meat Loaf will tell you, two out of three ain’t bad.

Ben, 10:13: 19 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 assist, and 1 block later for Jabari Parker in the first half, it seems like a good time to bring up this video.

Andrew Wiggins may be the better long-term prospect, but Jabari Parker is a better player right now.

Andrew Wiggins may be the better long-term prospect, but Jabari Parker is a better player right now.

Ben, 10:31: Look, I might be a naïve Duke fan, but Jabari Parker seems like a hard guy to dislike. He’s not crazy, he smiles all the time, and he’s Mormon. Who hates Mormons!

Ben, 10:37: I’ve seen Wiggins play in about two and a half games, and I’m not sure if I’ve seen him hit a single three-pointer. I can’t even recall him hitting a jumper, although I’m sure he has. That’s an issue if he’s going to be a shooting guard, but until he figures out his shot, he just needs to drive more, which he can do very well.

Ben, 10:56: Jabari Parker has had a lot of success jumping interior passes, leading to his three steals. This time, Wayne Selden caught him and snuck past Parker to Embiid for an easy deuce. Selden has been one of the most impressive Jayhawks, especially with his excellent passing.

Ben, 10:58: My television’s ESPN feed is having broadcast issues, and every play is shown at 90% speed before the screen glitches every five seconds. Wiggins went up for a fast break dunk and hovered for what seemed like forever, and I’m not quite sure if it was the faulty signal or his freakish athleticism.

Ben, 11:06: For some bizarre reason, Coach K played 6-foot-2 Tyler Thornton on 6-foot-8 Andrew Wiggins for two possessions. Wiggins posted him up the both times, scoring first and drawing a foul the second time. Thornton is a very good defender, but there’s only so much you can do against an athletic freak a half foot taller than you.

Ben, 11:11: Embiid just missed a free throw by hitting the backboard first. Yeah, that’s what only been playing basketball for three years looks like.

Ben, 11:17: Parker’s floater in the lane was about the twelth time tonight I’ve just yelled something not fit for print OH GOD HE JUST HIT A THREE.

Ben, 11:27: Rick Bonnell, a fantastic Bobcats beat writer for the Charlotte Observer I worked with this summer, just made a great point on Twitter I’ve always said. People are clamoring for players to stay in college basketball 2 years. Sure, that’s fine, but only if Randle, Wiggins, and Parker can go pro out of high school. These guys don’t belong in college, and the NBA has no reason to keep them in college for two years (or any time at all).

Ben, 11:32: Rodney Hood turns it over, Wiggins gets a fastbreak dunk, and Parker fouls out with Kansas up 6 and just over a minute left. That’ll just about do it for the game, but there’s no doubt both teams are great and both stars are just unbelievable.

Ben, 11:37: This is why I love college basketball. I love watching elite future NBA players, and I love a lot of scoring. Ain’t nobody got time for that 37-36 Georgetown-Tennessee nonsense.

Ben, 11:44: What a night of really good performances. We’ll look back on this night in about five years and be amazed by how many great players were on one court over five hours.

Categories: College Basketball, NBA, Running Diary | Leave a comment

All The Articles I Forgot To Post

I write about sports a lot, and I occasionally forget to post my articles. Here’s your place to find all the articles I didn’t post from the past two months.

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Friday, October 11

Previewing the MLB Playoffs with Jackson Martin: League Championship Series

Jackson and I go head-to-head in round two of our baseball playoffs preview. I don’t brag too much about beating him 4-0 last week.

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Tuesday, October 8

COLUMN: Why Franklin should leave Vanderbilt

I write a column that Vanderbilt fans won’t like about why James Franklin should go to USC if he gets a job offer. I got a nice endorsement from commenter bill cherry: “What a great article from a Vandy STUDENT news source….a bunch of big freaking nerds.”

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Tuesday, October 1

Explaining the Vanderbilt running back rotation

Without Zac Stacy, the Commodores don’t have one feature back and are instead going with a three-headed running attack. Here’s your guide to what is going on in Nashville.

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Tuesday, October 1

Commodores heat up against Blazers

I covered my first Vanderbilt football game from the press box, and the Commodores won 52-24 against UAB. That bodes well for the Georgia game I’m covering next week, right?

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Tuesday, September 17

Vanderbilt men’s basketball lands four-star guard

Vanderbilt landed its second four-star recruit in shooting guard Matthew Fisher-Davis, who went to my rival high school, Charlotte Christian. They’re on pace to have their strongest recruiting class since 2011.

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Tuesday, September 3

FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: News and notes from Monday’s football press conference: Week 2

Ah, the first in a series of weekly news and notes from the Monday football press conferences. A series that lasted one week.

Categories: College Basketball, College Football, MLB | Leave a comment

A Memory Stuck Like A Tattoo

The first time I interviewed Vanderbilt shooting guard A.J. Astroth, I asked him a rather open-ended question: “What’s something most people don’t know about you?”

A.J. took a while to respond, then turned to sophomore forward Shelby Moats, who was walking out of the gym.

AJTat“What’s something most people don’t know about me?”

It took Shelby a few seconds, too, until he finally said, “you’re tatted.”

Well that was kind of obvious. A.J. is has more ink than a finals paper.

He’s got a giant lion on the right side of his chest with the words “Heart of a Lion” – the 6-foot-6 freshman is a Leo, after all.

On his right arm, Astroth has an image of a staircase heading up to a gate with the shadow of a basketball figure and the words “God’s Gift.” His tricep has a cracked hourglass with the words “Never Enough” wrapped around it. On the inside of his arm? The phrase “Sacrifice: without fear there is no courage.”

And then there is his right arm. On his right arm, there is an intricate cross with the words “Psalm 27” along with the dates 1926 and 2008. There is a rosary on the back of his arm and the beginning of Psalm 27 printed on the inside of his arm

The Lord is my salvation: Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life: Of whom shall I be afraid?

This arm is dedicated to A.J. Astroth’s grandmother.

LArmInsideLeftAstroth was born in Germany because his father worked in the military. Since his mother also had to work a lot, A.J.’s grandma helped raise him until the age of seven.

According to Astroth, his grandmother had at least 15 children and did not have any education past the eight grade, but he considers her one of the smartest women he’s ever met.

“She always knew exactly what to say for every situation,” said Astroth. “Just looking up to her, it was just something I grew up with. Knowing that everything’s going to be all right, even when things didn’t seem all right because she always knew how to go about things.”

Beyond being such a wise woman, Astroth’s grandmother was also extremely religious. Astroth can still remember the long, lively church services he would go to with her, but the more important religious aspect of his grandmother were the lessons and moments at home.

BackRightRArm“She was always lecturing me or yelling at me or putting me on the right track,” Astroth recalled fondly.

But perhaps more important than keeping young Astroth in line with his behavior was her use of strong faith as a form of comfort.

“When I was a little kid,” said Astroth, “she used to read me Psalm 27 whenever I got scared. As I got older, when I wasn’t really scared of the dark or things like that but I would feel down on myself, she would read that to me. It would be like a motivator to me.”

To Astroth, this quote symbolizes rising above temptation, rising above the evils of the world. Above all else, walking with God and walking with faith.

Once both Astroth’s family moved back stateside, the two were separated. His grandmother moved to Chesapeake, Virginia, and Astroth now lives in Tampa, Florida. Despite the distance between cities, Astroth still managed to see his grandma once or twice a year.

When they did meet up again, times were good. Astroth can remember his grandma coming out to play basketball with him and his cousins, even as she was in her 70s. And then there was her famous cooking he always enjoyed.

InsideRightWhen his grandmother did pass away, the whole family went through a tough time. Astroth knew he wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate her, but he wanted to wait until he was older.

During his junior year, Astroth’s mother finally allowed him to go get his first tattoo, the one he had been planning since his grandmother’s passing.

“I felt like I just wanted to get something to remind myself to always keep going no matter what.”

From a short glance at A.J. Astroth’s tattoos, it’s not hard to see that he derives lots of his motivation from religion. Between the rosary, cross, psalm, and “God’s Gift” moniker, that much is clear.

But what most people may not know about A.J. is the lifelong impact one great woman can have on a basketball player’s life.

Categories: College Basketball | Leave a comment

The Days I Saw Andrew Wiggins

In my time watching non-professional sports, I’ve seen two phenoms play: Bryce Harper and Andrew Wiggins. (Sorry Eduardo Najera.)

I got the chance to see the #1 basketball recruit in the Class of 2013 over Thanksgiving weekend at the Charlotte Hoops Challenge, which featured Wiggins’ school Huntington Prep (W.V.). The gym at Waddell High School was nearly packed, and there were appearances made by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and Dave Telep as well as reps from several D-I schools.

Phenoms have a way of owning the room. As soon as Wiggins stepped on the court, there was a new atmosphere in the gym. Maybe that was because grown men were giddy with excitement to see a 17-year old play basketball, but nevertheless, there was a special feel.

Wiggins is listed at 6’7″, but the man (yes, he’s already a man) looks a full 6’8″. He just screams athleticism, although he could certainly stand to add to his 205 pound frame. Even on a prep team with commits to Florida State, Arkansas, Baylor, and Tennessee, he stood out.

But during warmups, you could see the rawness of his game. The sort of rawness one would expect from a high schooler. Wiggins missed his first three jump shots, and that off-shooting continued into the actual game.

Wiggins started off the game against Quality Education Academy with a bang. Literally. Just minutes into the game, he threw down a jaw-dropping, pants-popping, heart-stopping dunk in traffic without regard for human life. Unfortunately it was mostly downhill after the highlight reel slam.

Here’s my video from the game. Sorry, no dunks.

I may have just picked the wrong game to watch him, but Andrew Wiggins’ shot was not all that impressive. The small forward only connected on one of his five three point shots, finishing 4-12 from the field. Interestingly enough, his only shots were from beyond the arc or at the rim.

More concerning than his lack of range was his inability to finish near the rim. Wiggins did rebound very well, but after offensive rebounds he would throw up wild put-backs that would inevitably miss. He was not a strong ball handler, often having to dump the ball off to a teammate when pressured. Even on fast breaks, he never dunked. Instead he tried laying in the ball before getting fouled. The good news is he got to the charity stripe 13 times, hitting eight of those shots.

I’m not sure if I ever remember his sprinting down the court in either game I saw him, but that’s not to say he wasn’t trying. Wiggins just ran so smoothly and made it down the court before most of the other players. One wonders how dominant he could be if he he could put out max effort on every play.

Defensively, Wiggins was nothing special. Part of that is to do with the fact that Huntington Prep was running a 2-3 zone the entire time, but he wasn’t playing as aggressively as his teammate and fellow Canadian Montaque Gill-Caesar, although Wiggins did finish with three blocks. Again, Wiggins looked a bit apathetic without the ball, but he is so athletic that he makes it look like he’s not even trying.

Overall Wiggins put on a show, but he certainly didn’t look like the next LeBron James. The man is an athletic beast, and if he can connect the dots on some details offensively, he can be really special. There’s no question why he’s ranked so highly.

I came to the Charlotte Hoops Challenge hoping to be blown away by Andrew Wiggins. That sort of thinking can be dangerous, since you can sell yourself on a player if you look hard enough for silver linings and want the player to be good. But instead of getting impressed by Wiggins, I was really fascinated by Montaque Gill-Caesar.

A 6’5″ sophomore, Gill-Caesar is not nearly as high on the prospect radar (16th in the Class of 2015 by Scout.com) as Wiggins. The wing scorer led Huntington with 21 points in their 70-39 beatdown of Kennedy Charter. Gill-Caesar showed great athleticism, the sweetest shooting stroke on the floor, and deep three point range. Defensively, he flashed plus lateral quickness. Montaque was even impressive driving, where Wiggins was a tad disappointing. He already has offers from Baylor and Ohio State, and he’s also being pursued by Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Montaque Gill-Caesar will have a better pro career than Andrew Wiggins, but Gill-Caesar’s offensive game is more refined, and he’s two years younger. It’s not out of the question for Teki–as he teammates call him–to grow a couple more inches and be closer to Wiggins’ massive size.

In a way, Wiggins reminded me of Harrison Barnes–for better or for worse. Two of Barnes’ bigger knocks coming into this year were a lack of consistent motor along with not being able to create his own shot, since he was an average ball handler at best. All of that matches up with Wiggins, and they share one more thing in common.

Wiggins effectively plays on a high school All-Star team. He plays with big men ranked #39 and #62 for the Class of 2013 as well as Gill-Caesar and #28th overall Xavier Rathan-Mayes at shooting guard. Wiggins doesn’t have to be the man, like he would if he were playing on any other team in West Virginia. The coach can stick him on the perimeter, since Huntington Prep already has an interior presence from Dominic Woodson and Moses Kingsley. Plus he doesn’t need to be a distributor with plenty of other guards. Being on such a great team limits how much he can impact the game.

The same was true for Harrison Barnes at Carolina, where they didn’t need him to rebound with John Henson, Tyler Zeller, and James Michael McAdoo manning the middle. They didn’t even need him to be a ball handler with Kendall Marshall and an array of shooting guards. Barnes didn’t get to stand out as much as Doug McDermott did at Creighton, since he was the team’s only NBA prospect. Nevertheless, scouts still gave Barnes high marks, and he was drafted 7th overall last June.

Part of me wonders if Wiggins was rated so high before he reclassified into the Class of 2013 because the athleticism was there and the raw offensive game was more impressive from a junior with an extra year to iron things out. But all criticisms aside, Wiggins will be great. Maybe he’ll even be going up against LeBron James and Harrison Barnes in two years. It’ll be fascinating to see where his trajectory leads him.

Categories: College Basketball | Leave a comment

Fantasy College Basketball

Fantasy sports has taken over this country, surpassing baseball as America’s pastime (I’m only partially joking). But as popular as college sports are, fantasy sports haven’t been able to catch on because of NCAA rules and blah, blah, blah. But being a resourceful man, I’ve come up with a solution!

Since you still can’t use player names, fantasy college basketball has to be restricted to team play. The rules are (relatively) simple: find 4-19 other friends and follow the following rules:

  • Split up the schools between all of the players in a snake-style draft. The suggested amount of schools chosen is about 75, although you can go as high as you’d like. I’d just suggest against splitting up teams from all 31 Division I conferences, since it’d take about 3 weeks to complete the draft.

Regular Season Points

  • Wins get you 1 point.
  • Conference wins double your win’s point value.
  • Beating the #1 team in the nation multiplies your win value by 20.
  • Beating a top-5 team multiplies your win value by 10.
  • Beating a top-10 team multiplies your win value by 5.
  • Beating a top-25 team multiplies your win value by 2.

Conference Tournaments

  • Losing in the finals of the Big East, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, Pac 12, or SEC gets you 10 points.
  • Winning a major conference tournament gets you 20 points.
  • Losing in the finals of a minor conference gets you 5 points.
  • Winning a minor conference tournament gets you 10 points.

March Madness Seeding

  • Making the tournament as a 1-seed gets you 64 points.
  • Making the tournament as a 2-seed gets you 60 points.
  • …and so on…
  • Making the tournament as a 15-seed gets you 8 points.
  • Making the tournament as a 16-seed gets you 4 points.

March Madness Games

  • Winning a Play In Game gets you 2 points.
  • Winning in the Round of 64 gets you 5 points.
  • Winning in the Round of 32 gets gets you 10 points.
  • Winning in the Sweet Sixteen gets you 20 points.
  • Winning in the Elite Eight gets you 40 points.
  • Winning in the Final Four gets you 80 points.
  • Winning the NCAA Championship gets you 160 points.
  • Winning as an underdog gets you [100+10(Difference in seeding)]% the amount of points for that round.
  • Buzzer Beater wins give you 1.5 times the amount of points.

For example, if North Carolina F#40 wins the Play of the Year Award your team would get 80 points.

Awards

  • A player on your team winning the Play of the Year Award gets you 80 points.
  • Each one of your players finishing as an All-America gets you 40 points.

Scandals

  • If your school is in a recruiting scandal, you get 10 points.
  • If your school is in an illegal benefits scandal, you get 15 points.
  • If your school is in a child molestation scandal, you get 20 points.
  • If your coach is fired mid-season, you get 25 points.
  • For each game of suspension, you get 1 point.

Trades

  • You can trade teams at any time, although you forfeit all rights to that team (all previous points go to the new owner).
  • If half the league vetoes the trade within two days, the trade is nixed and all points return to the previous owner.

Since this isn’t online, and I don’t plan on making a program any time soon, you’ll just have to calculate your scores for yourself. Go crazy, and draft as soon as possible before too much of the season is done.

 

The League:

Andy: Vanderbilt, Illinois, Indiana, Georgetown, Xavier, Cleveland St.

Ben: Duke, Texas, Ohio., Washington, New Mexico, Murray St.

Chris: Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Villanova, VCU

Colin: Virginia Tech, Michigan St., Stanford, Syracuse, BYU, George Mason

Daniel: Baylor, Oregon St., Memphis, Saint Louis, Detroit, Old Dominion

John: North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kansas St, West Virginia, Creighton

Kevin: St. John’s, St. Joseph’s, St. Bonaventure, St. Mary’s, Santa Clara, Mount St. Mary’s

Mitch: Georgia Tech, Mississippi St., Wisconsin, Arizona, Connecticut, Iona

Reed: Michigan, Minnesota, Purdue, Missouri, Louisville, Dayton

Tate: Kansas, California, Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, San Diego St., Temple

Tommy: Florida State, Ohio State, UCLA, Notre Dame, Harvard, Butler

Tucker: LSU, Florida, Texas A&M, Northwestern, Marquette, UNLV

Categories: College Basketball | 2 Comments

NBA Draftermath: Getting to the Point

Many people like to say that love is a battlefield. I, however, like to think of the basketball court as a battlefield.

You need to out-duel the opponent, which is best done with teamwork and preparation rather than a loose group of rogue combatants. The field general in nearly every scenario is the point guard making him the most important player on the court.

The field general is not the most powerful soldier. In most cases, you won’t see him shed a drop of blood–but he calls the shots. Likewise, the point guard is rarely the leading scorer on his team–just four teams’ leading scorers played the point last year–but they are the primary ball-handler and distributor.

These generals need three key characteristics: poise under pressure, an ability to make teammates better, and most importantly the winning gene. A sweet shooting stroke is nice. Behind-the-back, no-look passes are nice. But what really matters is the ability to put your team on your back when it matters most and just flat out win the ballgame.

So as the newest draft class enters the now-locked out National Basketball Association, there is, as always, wild chatter about who the biggest flop will be, which team got the best sleeper, and how on Earth you pronounce those Lithuanian forwards’ names (it’s phonetic).

No one can be certain what these players’ futures hold, but what we can do is break down each player’s game to see what will best translate to the next level. The Class of 2011 had four point guards taken in the top ten: Duke’s Kyrie Irving, Kentucky’s Brandon Knight, UConn’s Kemba Walker, and BYU’s Jimmer Fredette. The draft as a whole was weak, but I believe the class of 1-guards has some potential. At least, some of the point guards have potential. Let’s dive in.

Kyrie Irving

I wonder if Kyrie will be as good as the last Cavs' #1 pick...

I wonder if Kyrie will be as good as the last Cavs' #1 pick...

Eleven games in college or not, there was little doubt on my behalf that this young man was worthy of the first overall selection in this June’s NBA Draft. He’s got NBA size, NBA vision, and NBA quickness. What’s even more impressive is that he joined a Duke squad fresh off a National Championship with two senior leaders (Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler), yet instantly became the definitive leader and scorer for the team.

Irving withstood a freak toe injury that left him out until March Madness, but when he returned, he seemed to have barely skipped a beat. In just 20 minutes, he scored 14 points on 4-8 shooting (2-2 from three and 4-4 free throws) with 4 rebounds, an assist, 2 steals, and a block in a 42-point romp of Hampton. Irving followed that performance with an 11-2-3-1 line, including shooting 9-10 from the charity stripe. Irving cemented himself as the clear-cut number one pick when he dropped 28 points in 31 minutes–shooting 9-15, 2-4, and 8-9–in Duke’s Sweet Sixteen exit to Arizona.

Yes, the case can be made that entering Irving into Duke’s lineup upset the team’s chemistry with Smith’s suddenly uncertain role off the ball, but that was much more to do with his prolonged absence than any problem with his attitude. At the start of the season, the offense flowed straight through the freshman guard. He was a true leader in every sense of the word: he’s a great distributor, he made every single one of his teammates better, and rarely forced unnecessarily risky passes. Overall, it’s just hard to poke holes in his game.

Kyrie isn’t athletic like former number one selections Derrick Rose and John Wall, but he can more than make up for it with his great quick burst to the basket and elite shooting (he was a 50-40-90 shooter in his limited collegiate career). Irving is most effective when he drives to the left side, but scoring isn’t his biggest threat–he’s most dangerous when he gets his teammates involved.

What makes Irving special is not what makes him unique–there’s not much that separates him from the upper tier of point guards. What makes Irving so great is that he’s such a safe pick–there’s no way he fails in the NBA. We’ve seen his skill set translate to success so many times before (Chris Paul, Andre Miller, and Raymond Felton just to name a few). He’s probably the safest pick in the draft because he will be a very productive pro–likely All-Star caliber, however, with the abundance of great young point guards he may not make too many All-Star appearances–but at the same time he has the potential of a top-5 one-guard.

From what we’ve seen at Duke and just his play in general, we can see that he gets it. He’s a true leader and embraces the team aspect of basketball. As soon as he stepped onto the court, he made each and every one of his teammates more dangerous, and was never afraid of the spotlight at one of college basketball’s biggest programs. Kyrie Irving is the type of player I want in my foxhole. He’s the guy I want on my team.

Brandon Knight

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If you had to trust any type of rookie point guard, wouldn't it be a Calipari one?

Derrick Rose. Tyreke Evans. John Wall. Brandon Knight? The next player in a succession of John Calipari-coached one-and-done guards has arrived, so we can pen him in for a Rookie of the Year, right? Not so fast.

Ranked as high as #1 by Rivals.com recruiting, Knight has been closely monitored for the longest time. Immediately as a freshman at Kentucky, he was handed the keys to the Caddy, but the start was a bit rough for him.

In his first seven games, Knight averaged 17 points per game, but totaled just 21 points in losses to UConn and UNC on 29% shooting. Worse yet, he had just 23 assists to 33 turnovers. While the turnover problem slowly started to fade as the season progressed, it reared its ugly head again in the NCAA tournament when he maintained a 17-16 assist-to-turnover ratio against non-Ivy League schools. Therein lies Knight’s problem: he’s not a true point guard.

As a pure scorer alone, Brandon Knight is very impressive. While he can be streaky at times, he’s already fairly reliable from NBA-3-point range and is great in the penetrate-and-kick game thanks to an explosive first step. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have shooting guard size. And he is not a shooting guard. I’m afraid that Brandon Knight is actually a combo guard.

Can you win with a combo guard? Sure. My preferences for point guards aren’t the end-all-be-all, and if in the right scenario, a combo guard can lead a team to a championship. But it’s so much harder.

Positions aside, there’s one thing Knight does do extremely well: he’s cool under pressure. By the end of the season, if the Wildcats were down a bucket in the waning seconds of the game, everybody new who was taking the shot–Brandon Knight. He became so steady at the end of games that even announcers would start to call it “Knight Time.”

There’s a lot to like about Brandon Knight. He’s smart, he’s mature, and he has all the skills in the world. But I’m not sure how much better he makes his teammates. With potentially the most talented roster in the NCAA, he flopped in the biggest game of the season when he jacked up 23 shots and finishing with just 17 points. Not only that, but he had 5 assists to 3 turnovers and took just two free throws. Taking 37% of your team’s shots is fine if you can score in flurries, but that’s not who Brandon Knight is.

I know it’s just one season, and I know he’s just 19, but I don’t see it in Brandon Knight. He didn’t step up when the light shined brightest, and I don’t really think he made his teammates too much better. I’m not even sure if he’s a winner as much as he is a stat sheet guy. One check out of three doesn’t work for me. I’m passing on Brandon Knight.

Kemba Walker

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Every team can use a tenacious leader with a winning mentality, especially the Bobcats.

When asked how to describe himself, Kemba Walker said, “Character, leadership, just heart. All New York City point guards are just tough.” Better words could not have been spoken.

Kemba Walker is one tough dude. I’ll get straight to the point and say that he is a warrior, a leader, and flat out winner. His size (6’1″) doesn’t stop him. His less-than-efficient shooting doesn’t get in his way. Because when the lights shine brightest on the biggest stage, Kemba is always there.

To say the least, UConn’s 2011 Men’s Basketball team was not that high on talent. After Walker, there really wasn’t much to work with. Jeremy Lamb may eventually be a first-round pick, and Alex Oriakhi is a serviceable big man, but there’s a reason why this team did not start the season in the AP Top 25: on paper, they are a really thin team. So off set Kemba Walker to prove to the world just how good his team actually was.

At the Maui Invitational, UConn looked really overmatched. With then-number 2 Michigan State and number 9 Kentucky, UConn was a small fish in a tank of sharks. So how did Kemba respond? 30 points per game, a 54-42-93 shooting line, a 12-6 assist-to-turnover ratio, and more importantly three tough wins.

By the end of the regular season, Connecticut was really being knocked around. A shaky 9-9 record in the brutal Big East didn’t help their 21-9 record, but a strong Big East Tournament run would really have helped their seeding in March Madness. Kemba’s move? Five big wins in five short days in which they played higher ranked opponents in four of the games. Again, Kemba stepped up under pressure for 26 ppg while shooting 47% from the field while gave us the coolest buzzer-beater of the year.

Kemba had already lighted up Madison Square Garden, ran through the Big East Tournament, and put himself square in the middle of the Player of the Year conversation, but this was truly the time for him to shine. Did he come through again? I guess you can just ask the net from the National Championship and President Obama.

When the stars shine brightest, you can bet Kemba Walker will be there. In the biggest six-game series of his life, Kemba put up 23.5 points, 5.7 assists, and 6 rebounds, missing just four free throws the entire tournament.

The man is electric fast. The man is clutcher than Kirk Gibson on a broken leg. The man was able to take a ragtag team to a 14-0 record on neutral court and a National Championship. If nothing else, he’s a winner.

There are some doubts that Kemba will ever make an All-Star Game. He’s small for a point guard. He’s shown flashes of being a scorer more than a distributor. But I can see past his small blemishes to see the bigger picture–he has the one thing you can never doubt in any sports: the Heart of a Champion

Jimmer Fredette

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No, Jimmer is not a good comp to (enter white basketball player's name here).

There’s not a single player in the last decade of college basketball who has received as much hype as Jimmer Fredette. Did Jimmer Mania grow to such outrageous proportions because he’s the first white player to dominate the sport in years? Is it because he is one of the few players not to leave after his first season for greener pastures in the NBA? Or maybe it’s just because he has a strangely captivating name and a rarely duplicated game.

I know, I know, how could anyone hate the great Jimmer Fredette? He took BYU, of all schools, to a 32-5 record while scoring 28.5 ppg. But I’m here to burst your bubble. Because Jimmer will not be a good pro.

What if I gave you an offer for a player to add to your team. He doesn’t play defense, he won’t rebound, and he’ll take a third of your total shots. Even if he shoots the lights out, that doesn’t sound like a great team player in my books.

What if I told you now that he’s only 6’2″, can’t jump, is rather slow, and doesn’t see the floor well. Now you’re cornered. You’ve got a shooting guard in a point guard’s body. He can’t defend 2-guards, but he doesn’t have the requisite skills to play the point.

One of the telling signs about Jimmer’s future was in the draft telecast itself. Where it said “Versitile Scorer” for Kyrie Irving, “Defensive Potential” for Brandon Knight, and “Tough Competitor” for Kemba Walker, it said “Capable Passer” for Jimmer. No, not “Good Passer.” Just capable. I’m a capable Bio student. That doesn’t put me in the top level in anything. And a “Capable Passer” won’t put you in anyone’s starting lineup.

With those shots being fired, I do think there’s a place for Jimmer in this league. Just take a look at not-quite-6′ J.J. Barea, who played a vital role in the Mavericks’ championship run. Every team needs a burst of offense off the bench, and I think Jimmer can play a Eddie House-type role. Good enough to help you if his jumper is falling, but if he’s cold, you can just yank him from the game.

I really wish that Jimmer had been drafted by Utah. He could have slid right into that Eddie House role behind Devin Harris with the entire state of Utah behind him. But, no. He ended up in the worst scenario possible: Sacramento.

The last thing Jimmer needed was to be put under this kind of pressure. Already with the pressure to be the next Great White Star–whether or not we accept that this is what we want him to be–he was moved to a team that needs a turnaround city to avoid moving to SoCal. Worse yet, he has been placed with the worst set of teammates to match his style.

Sacramento drafted Jimmer because they needed a point guard to take over now that it’s clear Tyreke Evans isn’t a point guard. The problem is, Jimmer isn’t a true point guard. Jimmer needs his shots to be effective, and so does Tyreke. And DeMarcus Cousins. And Marcus Thornton. And when they don’t get their share of shots, the group of 20-some year olds will pout.

Jimmer is not a point guard. He cannot distribute. He doesn’t make his teammates better. And now that he’s not being fed a steady diet of Vermont, UTEP, and Buffalo, I’m certain he doesn’t have the Winning Gene.

I’ve looked at his game up and down, and I just don’t see a place for Jimmer in this league as a starting point guard. The eighth man on a contender? Maybe. But not worth the tenth pick in any draft.

Categories: College Basketball, NBA | 4 Comments

Running Diary: A Carolina Basketball Bonanza

6:50 PM: Tonight is a big night for Carolina basketball; first on the plate will be the Charlotte Bobcats traveling to take on the Indiana Pacers. But that’s just the appetizer. We’ve got a treat tonight with the Tobacco Trail rivalry renewed. The Tar Heels are back in the Top 25 (at least the coaches poll) and we should be in for a great one.

6:52: Fun fact of the day….Sachel Paige was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971 today. Happy Black History Month, everyone!

6:54: Dell Curry and Steve Martin are pouring praise on Eduardo Najera. He has just 4.5 point and 2.5 rebounds in 20 minutes over the last two games! That’s horrible! Please get this guy off the court…

6:56: Charlotte will be without Kwame Brown because of a death in his family. I never thought I’d say this, but boy Kwame will be missed tonight!

Keep your eyes on these BFF's tonight.

Keep your eyes on these BFF's tonight.

6:57: We’ve got 1 Tarheel (Tyler Hansbrough) along with 4 Dukies in the building tonight (Gerald Henderson, Josh McRoberts, Mike Dunleavy, and Dahntay Jones). Also, Shaun Livingston committed to Duke before entering the draft straight out of high school.

7:05: The Bobcats are gonna be really short on big men tonight…. Tyrus Thomas, Kwame, and Gana Diop are all out, so be prepared for a lot of Boris Diaw, Naz, and Derrick Brown. Dear God, please no Najera!

7:07: Every time I see Brook Lopez or Roy Hibbert go up against the Cats I always cringe. Which draft day disaster was worse: taking DJ Augustin over Lopez or trading for the #20 pick to draft Alexis Ajinca or Hibbert and ending up with Hibbert?

7:09: Charlotte really needs a win tonight. They’re only a half game out of the eighth seed and another game out of the seventh seed. If you’re gonna make the playoffs, you absolutely have to beat the Pacers.

7:10: Another funny story…Matt Carroll almost missed the game because his chauffeur was pulled over for speeding to the airport. But that’s not all. He didn’t have a license and his windows were tinted to dark. Oh, the pain of a millionaire….

7:11 Bobcats win the tip-off, DJ misses a fadeaway, but Naz is able to tip it to Jack for a 2. Indy misses and Jack hits a three. Then DJ hits a three. 8-0 Cats.

7:13: How funny is it that the ACC all-time leading scorer, Tyler Hansbrough, is coming off the bench behind Josh McRoberts? McRoberts couldn’t get anything going at Duke and left for the pros after his sophomore season.

7:14: Who do you want for just this season: Gerald Wallace or Danny Granger? I’m giving the edge to Granger because of his age, scoring ability. It’s certainly close, especially given Crash’s defense, rebounding, and overall drive.

7:15: Indiana has to be the most awkward running team ever. Hibbert and McRoberts cannot run and dribble, and Dunleavy has to be the most immobile 2-guard in the league.

7:17: If you’ve ever wondered how people in Indiana get charged for basketball, its to the song “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Yup, you heard me right.

7:19: Pacers go on a 14-4 run and suddenly are up 16-14. Bobcats playing sloppy D, giving up the ball too much.

7:21: Oh, not the Pacers are blaring a trumpet rendition of “We’ve Got the Funk.” I’m so happy I live in Charlotte….

7:22: Granger hits two more shots to bring his first quarter total to 7. Cats down 23-18. Still no D, especially from the normally dependable Gerald Wallace.

7:24: Darren Collison is running an up-tempo offense and it is absolutely killing Charlotte. Cats still in striking distance, only down 22-25.

7:26: Pacers and Bobcats both fired tougher coaches this year (Larry Brown and Jim O’Brien) for free-er, looser coaches (Paul Silas and Frank Vogel. Their team’s responses? 6-2 and 4-1 streaks for their respective teams. Maybe if Orlando would just fire Stan Van….

7:29: Ahhh, our first Psycho T and OG sightings! Hansbrough still looks helpless on the rebounding end.

7:31: End of the 1st and the Pacers are up 29-28. Very little defense on either side.

7:34: Livingston and Najera come in to start the second quarter. Already bracing myself for multiple airballs.

7:35: Knee Man draws two quick fouls and short-but-sturdy Sherron Collins comes in to run the point. Boy he is small! (and fat…)

7:37: Jeff Foster looks so strange out there. Maybe its just I’m not used to seeing three white guys on the court not in Duke jerseys.

7:38: The OG gets on the board before Hansbrough with an uncontested layup. Cats trail 34-39, 8:52 left in the second quarter.

7:42: Just checked in on ESPN.com and guess who is last among all players in +/- tonight? Yup, Eduardo @#$%ing Najera…

7:43: I’m not sure if this is the least inspiring basketball music or the most inspiring organ music. Quite the culture shock.

7:46: Pacers continue their hot shooting, pestering D, grow the lead to 8. And Eduardo Najera is still on the floor. That’s the thing I hate most about him–he tries hard and doesn’t get tired. But that’s not a good thing. He tries so hard he ends up airballing threes and layups, blowing coverages, and missing rebounds. He even said “I think (defense is) about the only thing I’ve got left.”

7: 51: Naz isn’t especially effective on defense, but he is competent of offense (ahem, Kwame) and only has one foul.

7:52: DJ has done a great job of penetrating; he has 11 points with 4 minutes and change left in the half. I’d like to see him take more shots, especially with the likes of McGuire, Najera, and Collins getting so many minutes.

7:55: Roy Hibbert is absolutely gigantic. He’s the anti-Greg Monroe — great defender, questionable on offense.

7:57: Collison is absolutely shredding the Bobcats’ D. And some people wonder why Charlotte is down 9.

7:59: If you need an explanation as to why the Bobcats beat the Celtics on Monday and are falling farther and farther behind Indy, they’re 13-13 at home and 9-16 on the road.

8:03: I don’t care if you just made a layup, I never EVER want you to shoot again, Eddy Najera.

8:04: After disappointing first half, the Bobcats trail 58-48. Just unacceptable. Second half adjustments? Get Jack and Crash more involved on offense and maybe try playing tougher defense. Maybe.

8:17: Another key to the second half–score 11 more than the Pacers. But seriously, try to slow the game down and stop Indy from running so much.

8:21: Starters come back to start the second half, and Boris Diaw fouls Hibbert seven seconds in. How auspicious.

8:23: Naz tips back in two straight misses, but Charlotte still isn’t playing defense. 54-62.

8:25: The lower bowl can’t even be half filled. I guess not everyone is as anxious as I am to see Henderson and Hansbrough fight for rebounds.

8:28: Just got an interesting trade idea from my boy Josh … trading for Ron Artest. He’s becoming a cancer out in LA, and Denver already said they don’t want him in a trade for Melo. They might just be desperate to package Artest with a pick to get him out of Orange County.

8:32: Charlotte isn’t adjusting at all to Indy and they’re still down 10. We all know the definition of insanity: trying the same thing over and over and hoping for a different outcome.

8:35: New defensive strategy: make Psycho T shoot jumpers. I think this just might work…

8:37: Random, but I’d love to have Ron Artest as a sideline reporter. I’m sure he’d have some interesting nuggets to add. (Yes, the game is this boring right now).

8:39: Henderson into the game for an energy transfusion. The OG has been incredibly clutch in the last handful of games, let’s see if Charlotte can cut the lead down from 10.

8:41: I have no idea why FOX continues to hype up the Daytona 500. If someone was going to watch it, they’d be at the game, or already know when it is going to happen. No one just says, “Hey, I have nothing to do on February 20th at 1 PM. Maybe I’ll try out NASCAR!”

8:44: Bobcats are really missing their big men, they’re being killed on the glass. Please, come back, Tyrus!

8:46: Not a great third quarter. Late basket by Henderson helped, but they two missed tip-ins in the last few seconds, and those would have been huge. 70-81, 12 minutes to go.

8:48: I’m officially for Duke’s next BEAT EM DOWWWWWWN!!! victim.

8:49: Playoffs or lottery pick… which one would be better. Unless they play Chicago or Atlanta, they have next to no chance of advancing. At the same time, players like John Henson and Jimmer Freddette aren’t nearly as inspiring as the players at the top of the draft board (Jared Sullinger and Kyrie Irving) are.

8:54: Henderson has been playing great, drawing fouls, hitting his shots, and playing stellar D. I’d love to see him, Jack, Crash, and Diaw on the floor together with either PG.

8:56: Cats slowly chipping away by attacking the rim and forcing turnovers. It’s about time, but will they be able to pull off the comeback? 76-85 with two DJ free throws coming, just under 9 to play.

9:01: Shots are finally falling… Jack and Hendo make it 83-89. Plenty of time left to pull this one off.

9:02: Roy Hibbert is wreaking havoc on Charlotte’s “big men.” Najera’s miraculous trey brings the deficit back down to 7.

9:04: Louisville and Notre Dame, what are you doing on ESPN? It’s overtime and the Irish are up by 10. Can we just call this one a night and switch back to Cameron Indoor? Thank you.

9:09: Who are you Eduardo Najera? Why do you keep making these random shots? Cats down just 3…. what a turnaround 5 minutes to go.

9:13: Yeah, not a great start for Duke.

9:15: Roy Williams must be a wizard. He turned the greatest high school basketball player since LeBron James into an average swingman. Boy, Harrison Barnes is getting quite the ovation.

9:16: Jack is left open for the three and nails it. Hint to teams playing the Bobcats: don’t give the man five seconds to put up a three. Cats pull within 2! Never saw this happening at the start of the fourth…

9:18: Big Shot Jack strikes again! Deep two ties the game up at 102. This ending is more entertaining than the start to Duke/Carolina (gasp!).

9:20: I have a feeling the JordanCats are going to lose this one. Eddy Najera is closing out the game again matched up against Hibbert at center.

9:21: Every time they pan to Kyrie, it’s like a shot through the heart. This team would have been all-time great if his toe was never injured. Funny story–I was running indoors yesterday (don’t do it) and tripped over a carpet. I may have broken my toe. I can feel the inner Kyrie in me.

9:23 Huge defensive stop leads to free throws for Gerald Wallace. Down 2, a pair of freebies to go, 29 seconds left. And he misses the first…

9:26: I don’t know if letting the clock running out is the best idea, there won’t be too much time left for a shot.

9:27: That is the single most outrageous ending to a game I’ve ever seen. Jack was blatantly fouled. Utter. Horse. $#%@. Jack was knocked in the chest on the final three. Charlotte would have won.

9:28: I’m sorry, but that’s completely unacceptable. The refs didn’t even check a replay. Jack went up for a shot. And he was nearly tackled. No nothing?

9:32: That’s just outrageous.

9:33: Duke is playing without a sense of urgency, Carolina looks like they want it more right now. They’ll need the bigs to really step up.

9:38: Big three for Singler. He needs to be on his game tonight. Duke loses when he and Nolan can’t shoot.

9:41: Cameron is out-of-this-world loud. You can never underestimate the power of this crowd.

9:42: I was reminded of a great point by Bomani Jones: Kendall Marshall has a name that’s so ugly it make you hate to lose to him. The same thing applies to Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald.

9:48: This is what happens when you shoot 33%…..

9:51: Duke’s rebounding is pitiful. And the shot selection is even worse. This team is totally different without Kyrie.

9:53: What I would do to be a fly on the wall in Duke’s lockerroom…

10:03: I don’t know whether it is the Bobcats ref, Duke’s performance, or the fact that I’ve been blogging for over three straight hours, but I’m in total confusion right now. Am I really watching Duke play?

10:09: Kyle Singler is a lot more effective at the 4 because of the mismatches he forces. When he’s a wing player, he’s just another scorer. Let’s see if Duke can change his role before it’s too late.

10:11: That’s the way to start the half! Nolan hits a couple of shots and the deficit is down to 10. The crowd is alive and another turnover is forced.

10:13: It’s pretty clear which team came out of the break better prepared. Carolina just doesn’t look ready to compete, Duke is ready to show who is the top-5 team.

10:15: Curry does what all Currys do. Hit. Their. Shots. This is taking all to long for Duke to hit stride…

10:16: This game would be the other way around if Kyrie was playing. He’s just that good, that much of a natural leader. Oh, what could have been…

10:22: Nolan Smith is playing huge. If Kyle Singler steps up, this game will flip flop very quickly.

10:25: People don’t realize how great of a shooter Seth Curry is. If he wasn’t buried behind Nolan Smith, Andre Dawkins, and Kyrie for part of the year, he’d be putting up 15-18 points per game. He led freshman in scoring two years ago with 20 per at Liberty.

10:30: Curry does remind me of J.J. Redick in one way: he’s not afraid to pull up for a three on a fast break. Now, he’s not nearly as accurate, but very few are.

10:35: Would there be a better shooting team in the nation next year better than Seth Curry, Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers, and Andre Dawkins? Next year should be another fantastic season.

10:36: Curry is unstoppable! He’s hitting everything and anything and Carolina has nothing to respond with. Except another turnover.

10:37: When 6’11” Ryan Kelly is raining threes on you, you’re done. Curry and Kelly have sent this crowd into an absolute frenzy. The Cameron Crazies are going bonkers. Nuts. Psycho.

10:41: Duke just ripped the momentum away from Carolina. This one is all but done. Yes, I know there is over six minutes left, but the Devils are absolutely taking over.

10:43: This is turning out to be a better game than I could have possibly imagined. Let’s just hope it ends cleaner than the other game today….

10:45: I don’t know if it’s the crowd, the inexperience, or the fatigue, but Carolina is missing way too many put backs and short jumpers. The Crazies are intimidating, but this is just something else.

10:49: Just heard the line of the night by my main man Zachary (@zdp5000) “the refs co*kblocked stephen jackson from makin love to pressure.” That’s just amazing!

10:51: Duke is up 6….and Kyle Singler is shooting just 3-17! That’s 17.6 percent! Even Kobe Bryant shot 25% in Game 7 of the Finals!

10:53: I love how excited Carolina fans got tonight. And then how they’re playing it off like they expected it the whole time.

10:56: Gotta love the whirling dervish references. You just might be alienating half of your audience.

10:59: I can’t be the only one who wants to see a starting lineup of Plumlee-Plumlee-Plumlee-Kelly-(Insert White Guy Here)

11:01: If Barnes really is the next big thing, he woulda made that three. Then again, he could be a young LeBron from downtown. Good job, Wizard Williams!

11:06: If I didn’t like Duke, I’d hate Kyle Singler and Ryan Kelly. Tall, white, weird faces, combed hair, and likes to shoot threes. They’re just those players we should all hate.

11:07: Well, Sean May hasn’t sung yet, but this one is a wrap, folks! Great game.

11:10: More likely to stay…Harrison Barnes or Kyrie Irving? Probably Irving, but that could very well be my inner Dukie poking through. But when’s the last time a Blue Devil left after just one season? When Luol Deng transferred in?

11:11: Make a wish, er’body! Carolina needs some really good luck to win tonight and could use some help licking their wounds.

11:12: Great night of basketball. Bobcats got robbed, but the better team won in Durham.

11:13: Thanks to all who survived through any part of my first running diary; I’d love to hear some feedback. The next one probably won’t be until the NFL or NBA Draft, but I’m always open for suggestions.

Categories: College Basketball, NBA, Running Diary | 1 Comment

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