Mar 4, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT
Is Russ-diculous now Russ-ficient?: Louisville’s three-game losing streak earlier this season also happened to coincide with a turning point for rick Pitino and his dynamic off-guard Russ Smith. Smith was benched for the third game of that losing streak, as Pitino was efforting to get Smith to reign-in his shoot-first, think-later mindset. After two games where Smith played much better, the situation seemed to reach a head, as Smith went 3-11 in a closer-than-it-should-have-been win over Rutgers and then put on a disastrous performance down the stretch of Louisville’s five-overtime loss at Notre Dame.
But over the last five games, Smith has been as efficient as he’s been effective. He’s averaging 18.6 points over that stretch, with an average offensive rating of 128.0 during that stretch, up from 109.4 for the season. In fact, if you take away the Notre Dame game, Smith’s average offensive rating in his last eight games is 134.8.
Perhaps what’s most telling, however, was Saturday. Smith finished with 18 points on 11 shots. With less than a minute left and the score tied, Smith drove and, instead of forcing a tough shot, he found Luke Hancock for a three that eventually game the Cardinals the win. Given Louisville’s struggles in late-game situations, this is an immensely positive sign.
You don’t want to play USC in the Pac-12 tournament: Back in the preseason, the Trojans were thought to be a team that could be a sleeper to earn a bid to the NCAA tournament this season. With most of their injured talent returning this season, and with a slew of solid transfers getting eligible this year, Kevin O’Neill’s team was supposed to win some games.
But O’Neill was fired midway through the season after some abysmal performances. With Bob Cantu in place, USC is finally starting to find their groove. After beating Arizona and Arizona State at home this week, the Trojans are now 9-7 in the Pac-12 and have won six of their last eight games, which also includes an overtime win at Pauley Pavilion.
Could the Trojans be this season’s Colorado?
What’s going on at Arizona?: While USC is streaking, the Wildcats are struggling. They got swept at the LA schools this weekend, getting exposed defensively as the Trojans and the Bruins did just about whatever they wanted offensively.
There’s a larger issue at hand here. Arizona is now two games off the lead in the Pac-12 with just one game left to play. The only time that they have beaten a tournament team in 2013 is when Sabatino Chen’s game-winning three-pointer was incorrectly waived off. The Wildcats will be prime for an upset, as they will likely end up getting overseeded thanks to some strong — and lucky — non-conference wins.
Towson: It’s a shame that Towson won’t be able to participate in the 2013 CAA tournament, because this may actually be a team that has a chance to win the automatic bid. They set the NCAA record for the largest turnaround in history, going from a single win to 18 wins this season.
How good is the new North Carolina?: Since going to a four-guard lineup six games ago, the Tar Heels are 5-1, with their only loss coming by five points at Duke. Spreading the floor has been ideal offensively, as James Michael McAdoo is a matchup problem for opposing centers and Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston have thrived with opposing fours having to cover them. Throw in the improved play of Marcus Paige, who seems like he’s finally gained the confidence to lead this team, and the Heels are scoring a ton of points.
But can they defend with this lineup? Well, it appears so. Over these six games, Roy Williams’ club has given up just 0.956 PPP, and their adjusted defensive efficiency would rank in the top 20 nationally.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
May 21, 2013, 8:07 PM EDT
AMHERST, Mass. — In the Class of 2014, one player who should continue making a name for himself is 7-foot-2 center Paschal Chukwu. He is fresh off his junior season at Fairfield College Preparatory School (Conn.), leading the Jesuits to the championship game of the Class LL. Chukwu is currently on the AAU circuit with Connecticut Basketball…
May 21, 2013, 6:47 PM EDT
After spending one year on the coaching staff at LSU, long-time assistant Robert Kirby is once again leaving the SEC, this time to join Josh Pastner and the Memphis Tigers. Jim Kleinpeter of The Times-Picayune reports that the first-year LSU assistant resigned as an assistant coach on Monday night in order to take a similar position…
May 21, 2013, 6:02 PM EDT
Tulsa Shock guard Skylar Diggins wrapped up a great career with the Fighting Irish earlier this spring. Following her graduation from the University Notre Dame on Sunday, her sports agency, Roc Nation Sports — founded by Jay-Z — rewarded her with a Mercedes Benz. Got surprised with a new mercedes! Thanks so muchto Jay and…
May 21, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT
The Connecticut back court was already in good shape with the return of Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun. On Tuesday afternoon, Kevin Ollie added to his guard depth with George Washington transfer Lasan Kromah. This news came according to CBSSports.com, who confirmed the transfer through a source. Kromah is graduating from George Washington,…
May 21, 2013, 3:16 PM EDT
The field for the Legends Classic has been announced. Pittsburgh highlights the field and will be joined by Stanford, Houston and Texas Tech. Each of the four teams will host a pair on games on campus prior to going to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the semifinals and the finals. The final two rounds…
May 21, 2013, 1:32 PM EDT
Montana announced on Tuesday that Washington transfer Martin Breunig would be transferring into the program. “We are very excited about signing Martin Breunig at the University of Montana,” head coach Wayne Tinkle said in a statement. “He’s a strong, athletic post player, and he really adds good size and strength to our front line.” “We…
May 21, 2013, 12:40 PM EDT
Kevin Stallings isn’t too happy about Sheldon Jeter’s decision to transfer. According to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Vanderbilt head coach has blocked his former player from transferring to Pitt next season. Jeter is a graduate of Beaver Falls HS and announced over the weekend that he would be leaving the Commodores to…
May 21, 2013, 11:56 AM EDT
Jim Boeheim is a curmudgeon. He’s a grumpy old man that couldn’t possibly care any less about what anyone thinks of him, whether it be a media member, an opposing coach or an NBA team. He will, quite literally, say whatever he wants about whoever he wants whenever he wants. And I love it. In…
May 21, 2013, 11:09 AM EDT
Around two years ago, Bruce Pearl was fired as the University of Tennessee’s head coach stemming from lies that he told NCAA investigators that were looking into relatively minor infractions. Pearl had hosted Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft at his house for a barbecue during a recruiting visit and a picture of him was…
May 21, 2013, 10:25 AM EDT
There are not many coaches out there that have it as good as Rick Barnes. He’s the head coach of the men’s basketball team for the most recognizable university in the state of Texas which just so happens to have one of the richest athletic departments in the country. And that athletic department also doesn’t…
May 20, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT
With Marcus Smart making the decision to come back for his sophomore season, paired with other key players and a solid recruiting class, Oklahoma State is threatening to be one of the favorites for a Final Four berth next season. Memphis loses studs like Tarik Black and Adonis Thomas, but return Joe Jackson and bring…
May 20, 2013, 8:30 PM EDT
Looks like Juan Anderson had second thoughts about leaving Marquette, because he’s headed back to the Golden Eagles’ program. Anderson had announced he was leaving the program last week. The junior-to-be has played sparingly in his two seasons on campus, and originally wanted to transfer to be closer to home. Turns out he would rather…
May 20, 2013, 7:28 PM EDT
Mike Rice lost his job at Rutgers by repeatedly physically and mentally abusing his players. And it looks like he’s trying to get help with it. A report from ESPN.com’s Andy Katz said that Rice has spent the past two weeks with former NBA guard John Lucas at his rehabilitation center in Houston getting counseled…
May 20, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
Bill Self might be challenging Rick Pitino for the title of “best college basketball offseason”. At least from a coaching perspective. Less than a week after top prep player Andrew Wiggins committed to the Jayhawks, Self got another big commitment, this one of a different one-year variety, as former Memphis forward Tarik Black has committed…
May 20, 2013, 6:15 PM EDT
Justin Tuoyo’s next stop is with a familiar face. The sophomore-to-be will be transferring to Chattanooga, where he will be reunited with Will Wade, who took over for with the Mocs after spending the past four seasons on Shaka Smart’s staff at VCU. The 6-9 Tuoyo averaged 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in his lone…
May 20, 2013, 5:35 PM EDT
Recently, the big trend has been to redesign a team’s home court with a cool graphic. Florida International recently pulled it off with a beach theme, Long Beach State did the same a few years ago. Oregon seemed to be one of the originators (as Oregon can be with this sort of stuff). Add George…
May 20, 2013, 4:50 PM EDT
A big announcement came today for Sacred Heart and Conference hoops as a whole as word came out that Dave Bike will retire as head coach after 35 years at the helm. His replacement has apparently already been found in assistant coach Anthony Latina. A news conference is expected sometime next week. Bike took over…
May 20, 2013, 4:15 PM EDT
There may not be a rivalry in all of college basketball more unique than the Battle of the Boulevard, which pits Belmont against Lipscomb, two schools that are located all of 2.7 miles apart on Belmont Boulevard in Nashville, TN. It dates back to 1953, and over the course of the last 60 years, the two…
May 20, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT
Dominic Woodson no longer plans to attend Baylor in the fall, according to multiple reports. Woodson was rated as the No. 80 recruit in the country, and the No. 9 center in the Class of 2013, by Rivals. But with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson both opting to return to school, and with Rico Gathers…
May 20, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT
Frank Haith has added yet another transfer to his program, as former Baylor wing Deuce Bello will finish up his playing career at Missouri. The news was first reported by Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com. “I have decided to play for Mizzou,” Bello told DeArmond. “We played them three times while I was at Baylor. I…
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