Tag:Big 12
Posted on: December 16, 2011 1:54 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 2:15 pm

Midseason additions are a welcome holiday gift

Jeff Borzello

The semester break is the closest thing college basketball has to the trade deadline.

It’s when new players become eligible, whether because of a transfer or from academic ineligibility. Moreover, many injured players point to the semester break as the return point. Of course, lots of players come with hype and anticipation; last year, Josh Selby, Drew Gordon, Renardo Sidney, Jio Fontan and others all became eligible around the same time.

This year’s crop of additions isn’t as strong at the top, but there are still some impact players in the mix. Remember, though, not everyone lives up to the hype – there was a reason they left their former team or were suspended in the first place.

Kevin Ware, Louisville: Academically ineligible for the first semester, Ware should step in and provide depth with his length and athleticism.

Ian Miller, Florida State: The Seminoles have lacked players who can create their own shot, but Miller (right) has shown the quickness to do that.

Reggie Johnson, Miami (Fl.): The injured big man should return in January for the Hurricanes. He’s a double-double lock on a nightly basis.

Gary Franklin, Baylor: Franklin (top) won’t solve Baylor’s turnover issues, but the Cal transfer gives Scott Drew another option to run the offense.

Tony Mitchell, North Texas: Could turn around the Sun Belt race for North Texas. He could be one of top 30 impact freshmen in the country.

Pe’Shon Howard and Alex Len, Maryland: Howard will return from injury, while Len from NCAA suspension. Maryland needs their help.

Kadeem Jack, Rutgers: Mike Rice told CBSSports.com that Jack would start practicing in January. Would give the Scarlet Knights an inside option.

Guy Landry, Gonzaga: Suspended by the NCAA for eight games for playing professionally in France, Landry could play against Arizona.

Drew Viney and Ashley Hamilton, Loyola Marymount: The Lions top two scorers should return from injury in January; Max Good has some firepower.

Reggie Smith, UNLV: The Marquette transfer made an impact with his defense in the Big East; the Runnin’ Rebels could use the Chicagoan.

Matt Carlino, BYU: Carlino graduated high school a year early to play at UCLA, but he transferred last December. He’ll provide perimeter offense.

Ferrakohn Hall, Memphis: The Seton Hall transfer will become eligible against Louisville on Saturday. He'll be a nice piece and provide some depth. 

Brandon Mobley, Seton Hall: He injured his shoulder over the summer, and has yet to play. However, he was cleared and should help inside.

Devoe Joseph, Oregon: He’s played the last two games for the Ducks, averaging 15.5 points and 5.0 assists in two wins. Big boost for Dana Altman.

Ty Walker, Wake Forest: Walker was suspended for the first semester by the school, but returned last week against Seton Hall.

Twany Beckham, Kentucky: The Mississippi State transfer isn’t a stud, but he should be able to provide some backup point guard minutes.

Mike McFadden, Robert Morris: The Iona transfer hopes to provide some perimeter help for the Colonials, alongside Velton Jones.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: December 16, 2011 8:28 am

Wakeup Call: Reeves Nelson heads overseas

I have an eternal undying appreciation of the hoop player that goes for the fro. That's UC Irvine's Michael Wilder in Baton Rouge.

By Matt Norlander

First and foremost, rest in peace, Christopher Hitchens. The world has been robbed 20 years too early of a terrific thinker and writer. // Oh I cannot stop scrolling up and down, back and forth -- awkward family photos for the holidays! // It's the Word of the Year. I use it with frequency. Is that a bad thing? // Another list of the 20 best songs of 2011. I don't agree with 15 of the picks, which means they're doing it right. // So great, even unbelievable: capturing the speed of light on camera. // Breathtaking views (they look like paintings) atop One World Trade Center ...

★ When had our dream teams, and Jameson Fleming took the concept upon himself and put a twist on it.

★ Reeves Nelson is off to Lithuania to play basketball.

★ Former Boston College stud Troy Bell is now an R&B artist ... and it's actually not all that bad -- and I'm not even a guy with a whole lot of R. Kelly, Joe and Luther Vandross in his iTunes library. (Plenty of Boyz II Men, of course.)

★ Damian Lillard is not only the nation's leading scorer, he's also the most efficient offensive player.

★ Scary, but looks like everything's going to be OK for the Utah redshirt sophomore who needed brain surgery.

★ Things get thinner for suffering Siena.
★ It's not all love here in the Wakeup Call. In an effort to be fair to readers, it's right to point out pieces I disagree with here and there. This -- and I'm not alone here -- is among the most confounding things written about hoops I've seen so far this season.

★ I feel the need to state this often, because his voice on TV can be so polarizing, but Dick Vitale is one of the most generous, kind, grateful people in all of sports.

★ Sebastian Pruiti is the godfather of screengrab/coachspeak/basketball teaching; everyone else is just tracking his footsteps in the snow. Here he is examining Missouri and making the case the Tigers are the most complete team in the nation.

★ Fran Fraschilla's son, a walk-on at Oklahoma, is creating trick-shot videos for the best reason possible: to raise awareness for charity.

★ Butler's under .500, in case you missed it. A closer look why this was destined to happened.

★ Remember when Billy Gillispie wanted that eighth-grader to come to Kentucky? Check who the kid committed to yesterday.

★ An under-the-radar but noteworthy "huh?" story so far: Why's LIU playing this poorly? That team has 13 seed potential.

★ Just in case you were wondering, ESPN owns most of the NCAA programming until you become a grandparent/are dead.

★ FIU doesn't exactly bring in the peeps.

★ One of the best big men in the country you haven't heard about.

► This guy does these things for all sports. It's got potential. Needs more Cougars.

♬ One of the oldest Christmas classics out there. Also, among my five favorite King tunes. We all have our own impressions of this song, question is: Are you brave enough to unleash it in public, at a party, or do you save it for the shower/your car?

Posted on: December 12, 2011 8:36 am

Wakeup Call: Wait, who coaches Memphis?

By Matt Norlander

It seems a 17-year-old has come up with a big breakthrough in curing cancer. She's 17. You did what over the weekend? // Old Loves Tumblr is inspiring, bittersweet. // I've not run into an autocorrect issue yet, but are the funniest Damn You Autocorrects from 2011. // People who spend thousands on decorating their houses for Christmas ...

★ Great buzzer-beater from Saturday that you missed, the one that wasn't Indiana over Kentucky.

The story behind that photo.

★ There have been a few really good pieces written about the Xavier-Cincinnati brawl. This is one of them.

★ This is another.

★ And so's this.

★ One more. Props to Brennan for getting tough, something he should do more often.

★ Hey, this is great reporting that we wish would never have been done. After it fell off the newswires, Kevin Armstrong went to Arkansas to report on the plane crash that killed the Oklahoma State women's coach and assistant last month.

★ Georgetown player out indefinitely because of heart problems. Scary, but thankful it was caught now.

★ How/why Kansas State almost lost to North Florida Sunday night.

★ That's a depressing scene.

★ This remains true.

★ We've all pretty much moved on from UCLA at this point, but these stats about Ben Howland's commitments are worth seeing.

★ Yes, yes, yes. Loved this from Ryan Greene. Michigan State got one of its patented great, tough, under-the-radar wins Saturday. Going into Spokane? Respect that.
★ The best dunk I saw from the weekend.

★ You can see below this blog post that Parrish wrote about Murray State going undefeated. Here's another take on it and the chances of that happening.

► This KILLED me. How do you make this mistake? It's been more than two years! Such bombast, such unawareness.

♬ I'm deviating from my normal band/artist recommendation of the day and spending the next two weeks counting down (in no real order, I guess) my favorite Christmas tunes. I debated also posting a MISERABLE Christmas song to counter it, but why be a downer? We start with Andy Williams. If you can't get with this, you can't show up to my part in your best December sweater.

Photo: AP
Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:26 pm

Young Pitt remains as good and tough as ever

By Matt Norlander

NEW YORK — Pitt doesn’t do pretty. Never has, and under Jamie Dixon it never will.

But good God, if the Panthers are able to continually rebound the way they have, then yes: Pitt will put itself in a position for a high seed in the NCAA tournament and have a chance to get to the Final Four. (Let’s save the Pitt/March talk, jokes and doubts for March, though.)

What’s clear as of now: the best rebounding team in the country keeps getting better, and as long as that’s the case, Pitt’s still in the class of the Big East’s best. It can plough its way to the rim in league games to remain respected and the toughest of outs.

My mea culpa comes now, because even if the Panthers haven’t played a terrific schedule, with all the youth they have, they still haven’t deviated from how they play. I didn’t think the Panthers were set to have another big year in the paint, thought they had backcourt problems and would take a significant step back. But it’s not looking like the case. Even if Pitt winds up not being as good this year as it was last, a “significant step back” seems highly unlikely now.

Jamie Dixon’s team looks really good. It was gruff and won despite only forcing four turnovers against Oklahoma State Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

You don’t need a lot of turnovers if you’re grabbing so many rebounds. Rebounds are really disguised as turnovers that require more work and less luck. The Panthers covet them like Christmas cookies. Heading into the game, Pitt had a nation-leading 45.5 offensive-rebounding percentage. It took down 61 percent (14 offensive boards) of second-chance snares against Oklahoma State, 43 rebounds in all.

“It’s ingrained in our program. We recruit guys with a nose for the ball, and our offense is predicated on offensive rebounding, too,” Dixon said. “I know that may sound strange or inconsistent, but good offense leads to good offensive rebounding.”

Dixon’s club did what it does best because it had to, since Travon Woodall did not play. Woodall’s the Pitt point guard who will be out until early January with a groin injury. Most teams would slag without a Woodall-type guy. Maybe Pitt does over the course of his absence, but it made just fine without him Saturday. One-time and still-for-hire Pitt 1 Ashton Gibbs was fine scoring 17 — but only getting two dimes. Gibbs played 39 minutes against that ab workout of a Pokes press.  

“Ashton Gibbs just controls the game,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. “And Nasir Robinson may be my favorite player. I was afraid I was scaring my team with the way I was hyping him up (to them). He’s not trying to be something that he’s not, and so many guys these days try to (prove to) guys, ‘I can shoot jump shots.’”

(Quick aside on Oklahoma State: Travis Ford joked about how he was sick of the Garden, since all his team’s losses (three) came in MSG this season.)

As for the early-season talk, Dixon gets it and concurs with the majority on this team. He doesn’t think they deserved to be talked about among the nation’s best, and it’s still a work-in-progress. Yeah, yeah, every coach spits out that rhetoric, but at least Dixon owns up to the rebounding personality of his team and admits it’s all of what they are right now. He said the turnovers are low because he doesn’t encourage his team to chase after steals when he considers rebounds more important.

“We were a little bit off the radar because of our youth, but we have six freshmen and it’s understandable,” Dixon said. “But we didn’t want to be one of those elite teams in November. We’ve got work to do, so we don’t feel we are [the best], so I’ve no problems with whoever’s saying it. This is a good win but we have a lot of work to do.”

Robinson, Khem Birch, Lamar Patterson — who arguably had his best game in a Pitt uniform, grabbing 10 board, scoring 12 points and tallying seven assists — and Dante Taylor (pictured above) are budding as a formidable forward/frontline foursome. They don’t all play at once, but the reliability of so many capable guys down low is something different from what Dixon’s had before, when there’s usually been one or two studs surrounded by undersized overachievers.  

They need those bigs to continue to play ike this, because “no one is playing with three freshmen guards. I don’t recommend it,” Dixon said. “We’re fighting through some things, but I’ve liked how we’ve responded.”

The schedule gets tougher soon, but so far Pitt’s not shown any true sign of dropping off or defaulting from what it’s been about with Dixon.

Photo: AP

Posted on: December 10, 2011 7:07 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 7:18 pm

Nice win for KU ... but it needs context

By Gary Parrish

The weekend's marquee game became something less Saturday when college basketball fans learned the CBSSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year would not participate because of back spasms. You wanted to see Jared Sullinger vs. Thomas Robinson. I wanted to see Jared Sullinger vs. Thomas Robinson. Instead we got Evan Ravenel vs. Thomason Robinson. And, with all due respect to Ohio State's backup big, that's just not the same.

So 14th-ranked Kansas beat No. 2 Ohio State 78-67.

Consequently, the Buckeyes have been eliminated from the group of undefeated schools.

But what does it really mean?

Honestly, nothing.

It doesn't mean Ohio State isn't the team that beat No. 12 Florida early and routed No. 7 Duke two weeks ago, and it doesn't mean we should reconsider what we think we know about the Buckeyes. They're still awesome. They're still the best team in the Big Ten. They just need their dominant big to, you know, get healthy, and that will presumably happen in time. Then OSU will get back to pounding people. I promise.

As for Kansas, again, good win.

Seriously, it was nice.

But I do sort of feel bad for the Jayhawks because they were in a bit of a no-win situation once it was clear Sullinger wouldn't play. Win and who cares? Lose and it's a bad loss at Allen Fieldhouse. Knowing Bill Self, I'm confident he wanted Sullinger on the court, confident he wanted to see Thad Matta's team at its best. But it didn't happen. So it is what it is. And what it is is a double-digit victory for a KU team that entered the season with lots of question marks but is slowly erasing them one by one.

Photo: AP

Posted on: December 9, 2011 5:39 pm

Texas A&M's Kennedy says Middleton to return Sat.

By Jeff Goodman

Texas A&M is expected to get Khris Middleton back on Saturday.

Aggies coach Billy Kennedy told CBSSports.com on Friday afternoon that Middleton, who led the team in scoring a year ago, has been cleared to play against Louisiana-Monroe.

The 6-foot-7 Middleton injured his knee in the season-opening win against Liberty.

Texas A&M was a preseason Top 25 team that has gotten off to a 7-1 start - even without their top offensive player.

The Aggies lone loss came in New York City against Mississippi State.
Posted on: December 9, 2011 8:55 am

Wakeup Call: Officially, the draft rule stays

By Matt Norlander

This is stupid. I thought the original really came into its own -- commercially and artistically. // The best music of 2011. Yes, I've got issues with some selections, but a lot of that is up my alley. // Investment banker writes condescending email to girl who realized immediately what she got herself into; writes how you’d imagine an entitled investment banker would. // Impressive. Don't let anyone tell you how you can't do something. // The best books of 2011. I've actually read two! // If it's at all possible to be let down by a Kate Upton photo gallery ...

★ Yeah, minor detail and all, but as expected: NBA draft rule remains as is.

★ We debuted our Player of the Year feature yesterday. We'll be coming back to this throughout the season.

★ Mountain Goats looped over Frank Martin's anger? MY HEART IS YOURS.

★ Got some UConn-over-Harvard reaction for you. That game played out pretty much like I thought it would. Crimson still capable of stealing one in March.

★ More thoughts on Harvard, via College Hoops Journal, a site you should totally follow on Twitter.

★ Good catch by Eamonn Brennan, who saw the report that the NBA will play on championship Monday this year due to the 66-game schedule.

★ What college basketball doesn't need: another team in Division I.

★ Small story out in Hawaii, but whoa.

★ This was a great sportswriter's re-telling of what it's like to be a writer and amid the NBA lockout.

★ Looks like Sullinger's playing against Kansas, which is great.

★ Still wonder what BYU becomes in conference play this year, but Davies is so important to that team regardless.

★ I'll try not to link Winn's Power Rankings every Friday morning, the morning after they get published, but I can't make any promises.

★ Deregulation at the college level? How that's possible.

► Don't know, don't care. Have watched 30 times.

♬ Yeah, I've got that soft emo side to me, OK? Jeez, lay off or I just might cry about it. Let's listen to some Death Cab for Cutie, a perfect way to head into the weekend. This is one of the "harder" DCfC songs Ben Gibbard's written. It's off Transatlanticism, the band's best album.

Photo: AP
Posted on: December 9, 2011 5:28 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 5:33 am

Sullinger feeling better, dancing

By Gary Parrish

Breathe a sigh of relief, NBA scouts.

Looks like we're gonna get that Jared Sullinger vs. Thomas Robinson matchup after all.

"[Sullinger] just told me he feels great," said Ohio State coach Thad Matta. "He said he feels a lot better. He said he woke up dancing this morning."

That's good news for the second-ranked Buckeyes considering Sullinger missed last weekend's win against Texas Pan-American with back spasms. Consequently, the 6-foot-9 All-American had been unofficially listed as questionable for Saturday's game at No. 13 Kansas. But questionable has now turned to probable, meaning the most likely scenario has the two prospects ranked first and second in the CBSSports.com National Player of the Year Watch banging bodies on Saturday inside Allen Fieldhouse.

Sullinger is averaging 19.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

Robinson is averaging 17.4 points and 12.0 rebounds per game.

Both are projected lottery picks for next June's NBA Draft.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com