Upset Week Shows How Much Parity is in College Basketball

It was a crazy week in college basketball this past week. No team in the Top 10 was safe, and we saw a number of highly ranked teams fall. It’s early in the year, and most teams are trying to find their identities, but we are seeing how wide open the NCAA basketball season is this year. Aside from about three teams, the rest of the pack is jumbled together trying to figure themselves out.

Florida Looks Like Two Different Teams

It started Monday with Florida’s loss to the rival FSU Seminoles at home. This loss wasn’t terrible, as Florida State came into the game undefeated, and will likely move into the Top 25 with the win. But after taking Duke to the wire in the championship of the PK80, expectations were raised for Mike White’s club. The Gators’ week got even worse two days later when they suffered another loss. This time to University of Loyola-Chicago. What we learned this week is Florida needs to make shots to compete on an elite level. This may sound obvious but look at how good they looked when they made shots vs Duke, and how bad they looked when they didn’t against Florida State.

Notre Dame Falls in South Bend

The weirdness continued Tuesday with #9 Notre Dame losing to Ball State in South Bend. The Irish got their normal contribution from potential ACC Player of the Year, Bonzie Colson. The issue was, that they will only be as good as Colson’s supporting cast. Senior Matt Farrell chipped in with 14, and two other starters finished in double digits, but the lack of bench hurts ND. Playing only three bench players for a total of 27 minutes is not a recipe for long term success. The Irish could use some reliable bench help to sure up their rotation before the head into ACC play.

Is Arizona Back?

After Notre Dame suffered their fate, Texas A&M followed up with a loss to Arizona. On paper this loss is not nearly as big of an upset, but Arizona is still going through an identity check. The Wildcats looked to answer a few questions though, and got great support, in addition to another strong game from DeAndre Ayton. The Cats looking to trending upward after this week, but nonetheless this is still another Top 10 upset right now. A&M may have wowed us opening night, but maybe we got greedy with how good they looked

Kansas Gets Exposed

Safe to say it was a bad week for the #2 ranked team in the country. It started Wednesday night when Washington came in and had the perfect game plan for the Jayhawks. It ended Sunday when Arizona State, maybe the hottest team in the country, came into Lawrence and won, something that doesn’t ever happen. Washington’s Mike Hopkins devised a perfect zone defense that contested KU around the three point arc all night long. The two loss week left head coach Bill Self calling this team the softest he’s ever had here at Kansas. It really showed how reliant Kansas is to making shots from deep. Similar to Florida, if they’re falling they look great. But if they’re not, who knows. Kansas could really use Bill Preston, or even Silvio De Sousa to help sure up their front court issues. Meanwhile, for Arizona State…

Down Goes #1

The week of upsets would not be complete without the number one team falling. The young Duke Blue Devils lost their first ACC game of the year, walking into BC and losing to the Eagles. All credit should go to Jim Christian and staff for great execution. Ky Bowman’s 30 point effort and near triple-double doesn’t hurt either. Duke won’t suffer a ton from this, it will likely be a better learning curve for a young team that was getting talked about as maybe going undefeated. It does show however, that every team has their holes, and no one is a sure thing.

So that wraps up the week. It will likely have Villanova, Michigan State, Duke, Arizona State (yes, really) and Wichita State in the new top 5. This feels like a year that will have a lot of fluctuation within the top part of the polls, but we may not see another week that compares to this week.

2017 Hoop Group Toy Drive Basketball Clinic

 

Hoop Group’s 1st Annual Toy Drive Clinic, is a hour instructional basketball clinic led by former Division 1 coaches Tiny Green and Mike Rice. The event is free to register, but in order to participate, you must bring an unwrapped toy to donate.

All toys will be donated to K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital

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2017 Recent Shore Girls Basketball Scrimmage Match Ups

 

This week I had a chance to take in a few scrimmages. I wanted to get a look at the Top teams before my first ranking. Tomorrow I will get my first look at St. Rose and SJV two powerhouse teams.

There is zero question in my mind that RBC can win the SCT or TOC. They really have all the pieces in place. The RBC chemistry and senior leadership was as impressive as their shooting. Hayley Moore and Rose Caverly were murder from the arc. Sophia Sabino the freshman point guard, was very impressive on both sides of the ball. A real concern has to be when Katie Rice  is not on the floor . Fab Eggenshwiler was most likely going to be the 5th starter and she is out with a injury.

I thought RFH was in full blown rebuilding mode. But Monday they blew me away, as they dominated Middletown South at times. Tori Hyduke was on a whole different level than anyone in the gym. Lucy Adams, did just about anything you could ask a sophomore to do. Grace Munt showed she’s ready for prime time. Middletown South are the walking wounded, they entire starting five with the expectation of Stephanie Mayerhoffer. So we really won’t know about them for another week or two. They clearly have the talent to be a special group. Tom Brennan is on the sidelines, so you can expect major improvements.

RBR was so well coaches it shocked it me. It made me remember how good Coach John Turhan is at getting kids to preform above their talent level. TRN was also very impressive, they showed many different looks on defense. They also can really score the ball, Jenna Paul, Brille Bisgono and Amanda Johnson can play with anyone. They are a Top 20 team and could be Top 10 with a few breaks.

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Recapping Tuesday Night in College Basketball

Photo via @VisionsByJeff

A lot happened last night for a Tuesday night in December. We had the Jimmy V Classic, which always features great basketball and a greater cause. We had two Top 10 teams fall, and two more teams in the Top 15 suffer losses. Let’s quickly recap what you may have missed last night.

Villanova Pounded Gonzaga

Villanova punished Gonzaga on a night where Jalen Brunson struggled and Donte DiVincenzo was in foul trouble. Granted, Jonathan Williams only played 18 minutes for the Zags, but this game was all Wildcats. Mikael Bridges was sensational, going off for a career high 28 points. Bridges was 5-9 from three point land and came up with big buckets every time Villanova needed one. The win showed both how short Jay Wright’s bench is, but also Nova’s ability to stay in games without a true point guard for stretches.

Tyus Battle Leads Cuse in Rivalry Game

The second game of the Jimmy V Classic featured an old Big East rivalry, as UConn and Syracuse met once again. In front of a terrific MSG crowd, it was the New Jersey product, Tyus Battle, who led ‘Cuse to a win. Battle had 22 and fellow Hoop Group alum Matt Moyer had a career high 18. The unexpected outburst from Moyer was huge, as Frank Howard struggled again for Syracuse. On the other end, the Huskies continue to struggle to pick up a resume building win. Jalen Adams led the way with 22 of his own, but it was not enough.

Arizona Picked up a MUCH Needed Victory

Sean Miller’s seat has been on fire since the Battle 4 Atlantis. Not literally, his job is safe, but Arizona’s struggles have been put under a big microscope this year. The Cats quieted some of that talk last night with a win over #7 Texas A&M. Positively speaking, Arizona had four players score 13 points, and none of them were Allonzo Trier. DeAndre Ayton recorded another double-double, and a bonehead play that almost gave A&M a chance to tie it in the final seconds. With Rawle Alkins cleared for full contact, this could be the win that turns Arizona around.

Notre Dame Upset

In what was by far the upset of the night, the #9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish fell to Ball State in South Bend. Tayler Persons led Ball State with 24 points, none bigger than the 3 he hit with 1.7 seconds remaining. The Cardinals led by as much as 9 in the second half, surrendered that lead, and held on thanks to Persons’s heroics. The Irish will look to rebound this weekend against Delaware before an in-state battle with Indiana.

West Virginia is Streaking

It was defense vs defense as West Virginia picked up a big non-conference win against the #15 ranked Virginia Cavaliers. After giving up 88 points in a blowout loss on the first night of the season, Bob Huggins’s team has held teams to just 63 points per game and 37% shooting. None of these teams have as potent of an offense as Texas A&M , but it’s clear defense is still the key in West Virginia. In addition, Jevon Carter has been extraordinary. Last night was no different, as he recorded 23 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.

Shaka Smart Returns to VCU Victorious

In what was an emotional game in front of a raucous crowd, Shaka Smart returned to Richmond and was victorious against his former team. The Longhorns look like they have a serious three headed attack with Andrew Jones, Dylan Osetkowski and Mo Bamba. This looked like Bamba’s most complete game, recording a double-double (13 points and 13 rebounds) and tallying 4 blocks. His defense has been a constant all season, averaging over 3 blocks a game, but his offense appears to be coming around now as well. Oh, and then he also did this…

Big Ten Takes Another Hit

The Big Ten’s struggle as a conference has been mentioned on multiple occasions so far. The early take on the conference has been that it has three definite tournament teams in Michigan State, Minnesota and Purdue, and question marks everywhere else. Well one of those teams suffered a bad loss last night, as Minnesota lost on the road to Nebraska. Jordan Murphy was held in check for the Gophers, finishing with 10 points on just 4-12 shooting. Meanwhile, Glynn Watson Jr. went off for the Cornhuskers, recording a game high 29 in the win. The Big Ten looks clearly to be Michigan State, and then everyone else.

Lavar Ball at it Again: Pulls LiAngelo From UCLA

Lavar will be Lavar. News broke today that LiAngelo Ball will not return to the UCLA men’s basketball team. Reports indicated that Lavar Ball pulled his son from school due to his suspension on the team. The suspension of course, stems from the shoplifting incident that took place in China just a few weeks ago.

This decision is only surprising in the sense that it took this long to happen. There was no way Lavar was going to let his son sit on the bench all year long, no matter what he did. This is the same guy who is home-schooling his youngest son because he does not agree with the coaching. He’s the guy who can be seen publicly criticizing the Los Angeles Lakers players and coaches on any given night. What gave you any indication that he was going to let Steve Alford get away scot-free? This is the Ball family, negative publicity cannot happen ever.

Big news for LiAngelo, but what about his brother?

I think this story actually makes things more interesting for LaMelo Ball. He’s being home-schooled, and cameras follow him at every tournament he plays in. I can’t help but think that LiAngelo’s departure is some long con so LaMelo can decommit from UCLA. A lot can change in for a high school athlete in four years. The way recruiting is now, being committed to a school for four years prior to enrolling is unheard of. LiAngleo was not a one-and-done player. He was going to be at UCLA when LaMelo was finally able to enroll. It would be an awkward situation for LaMelo to decommit if LiAngelo were apart of the UCLA program.

This is strictly speculation, but with Lavar Ball you truly cannot rule anything out. With LiAngelo withdrawing from school, it is assumed LaMelo will decommit eventually as well. If this happens, it will bring an interesting twist to his recruitment. There is no word currently on where LiAngelo will end up. LaMelo could follow him, or Lavar could put him on his own path. Only time will tell, but for now, we’ll keep talking about Lavar, LiAngelo and zero minutes he played at UCLA.