March 12, 2013

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Wooden Award Watch

By: Tyler Vespa

College basketball’s player of the year race is starting to heat up. In this wide open season where we’ve seen top 5 teams go down almost every week, the Wooden Award Watch has also been sent into a frenzy. We’ve seen so many teams picked to finish in the middle or the bottom of their conference rise above expectations. This parity has put names on the Wooden Award Watch that nobody saw coming.

Will Indiana's Victor Oladipo win the Wooden Award?

With that, here are my top 5 players (in order) that could take home player of the year honors:

Victor Oladipo- Indiana

His incredible quickness helps him do so many different things for the Hoosiers. Oladipo is one of the best I’ve seen at turning defense into offense. He averages 14.0 ppg, 2.1 assists, 6 rebounds and 2.3 steals and to top it off, he is shooting 63% from the floor. His play has been so consistent it’s hard to put anyone ahead of him at this point.

Otto Porter- Georgetown

The Hoyas swingman rises to the occasion in big games. Porter scored 33 points in a win at Syracuse, and scored 21 of his 22 points in the second half of a double-overtime win against Connecticut. Porter shoots 51% from the floor and averages 16.6 points. 2.5 assists, 7.6 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block. The Hoyas have won 11 in a row, and Porter is averaging 19.2 ppg in the last 13 games. In other words, he single handedly took the Hoyas to the top of the Big East.

Rodney McGruder- Kansas St.

The Kansas State senior guard is averaging 14.9 ppg and 5.3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.3 steals. This play by McGruder has helped the Wildcats win 5 in a row and take over 1st in the Big 12.

Deshaun Thomas- Ohio St.

In the toughest conference in the country, the junior forward has averaged 19.8 ppg, 1.3 assists, and 6.1 rebounds.  This consistency, along with Thomas’ 84.5 free throw shooting has helped the Buckeyes win 4 of their last 5, putting them 2nd in the Big Ten.

Marcus Smart- Oklahoma St.

The freshman guard is averaging 14.6 ppg, 5.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists and 2.9 steals. Smart does it all for the Cowboys, who have now won 10 of their past 11, with their only loss coming against Kansas in double overtime. They now sit just one game behind Kansas and Kansas St. in the Big 12.

I would be in shock if one of these 5 didn’t win player of the year. Even with the conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament right around the corner, these are the top guys in the top conferences in the nation. I can’t wait to see how these guys perform down the stretch in the race for a national championship.

June 19, 2012

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NBA Mock Draft

By: Joe Williams

Oklahoma City and Miami are battling it out in the NBA Finals. Meanwhile, the rest of the league has its attention on next weeks draft. For those of you who won’t be able to watch the draft and want to know what will go down, keep reading. For the rest of you its *SPOILER ALERT* time. Continue reading at your own risk.

With two 1st round picks, who will the Celtics surround PG Rajon Rondo with for next season?

1. New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky
Everyone knows who is going no. 1. The biggest question going around about this pick is whether the Hornets won the lottery fair and square.

2. Charlotte Bobcats – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky
MJ begins rebuilding his team with another Michael. It worked out pretty well for Chicago in the 1984 draft.

3. Washington Wizards – Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas
Robinson says he should be the first pick but any way you slice it, he’ll be going to a team with a lot of work to do.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers Bradley Beal, SG, Florida
Kyrie Irving needs a big time shooter to help spread the floor. Beal is exactly that.

5. Sacramento Kings - Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina

The Kings need a small forward that can put the ball in the basket and find a solution to their problems getting an arena deal done with the city. Barnes can help in one of those areas.

6. Portland Trail Blazers Andre Drummond, C, Connecticut
Here we go again. Drummond has got to be crossing his fingers and anything else he can find hoping that he doesn’t go to Portland considering the string of injuries that have taken out Blazer big men.

7. Golden State WarriorsPerry Jones III, PF, Baylor
The Warriors already got lucky in the lottery when this pick didn’t go to the Jazz. They push their luck and take what could be an all-or-nothing player.

8. Toronto Raptors – Jeremy Lamb, SG, Connecticut
The Raptors could improve quickly by adding a good pick here to go along with last year’s lottery pick, Jonas Valanciunas.

9. Detroit Pistons – Jared Sullinger, PF, Ohio State
Buckeye fans won’t be thrilled about him going to play in Michigan.

10. New Orleans Hornets  - Damian Lillard, PG, Weber St.
The rebuilding continues with one of the nation’s most prolific scorers.

11. Portland Trail BlazersKendall Marshall, PG, North Carolina
The Blazers breathe a sigh or relief when neither Lillard or Marshall are taken in the first nine spots because they really need a point guard.

12. Milwaukee Bucks – Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
There is a big hole to fill in the middle after the Bucks traded Andrew Bogut last season.

13. Phoenix Suns – Dion Waiters, SG, Syracuse
With several free agents at the guard position, Phoenix goes with their favorite backcourt player.

14. Houston Rockets - Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
Rockets pick up a big man who can become a defensive presence.

15. Philadelphia 76ers - Terrence Jones, PF, Kentucky
After a surprising playoff run, the Sixers look to take the next step by adding a big man to help matchup with the Eastern Conference powers.

16. Houston Rockets – Terrence Ross, SG, Washington
The Rockets make NBA history as this is the first time two players named Terrence have been drafted back-to-back.

17. Dallas Mavericks - John Hensen, PF, North Carolina

Dallas gets some help for Dirk Nowitzki and takes the best available player left on the board.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves - Moe Harkless, SF, St. John’s
Timberwolves go with a replacement for the possibly leaving free agents Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph.

19. Orlando Magic – Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
New GM. New coach. Dwight Howard is probably gone. Melo can block shots and shoot free throws like Howard but lacks in the scoring department. Two out of three ain’t bad.

20. Denver Nuggets – Royce White, SF, Iowa St.
The Nuggets don’t have any major holes so they add some depth to back-up Afflalo and Gallinari.

21. Boston Celtics - Austin Rivers, SG, Duke
We know who the point guard is. Everything else is a question mark. Doc Rivers drafts one thing he knows. His son.

22. Boston Celtics – Quincy Miller, SF, Baylor

If he gets back to 100 percent healthy, he has a lot of upside.

23. Atlanta Hawks – Jeff Taylor, SF, Vanderbilt

The Hawks could be in for a lot of changes with the possible trades of Joe Johnson and Josh Smith.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers – Arnett Moultrie, PF, Mississippi St.
Here’s an athletic player that would be another piece of the rebuilding puzzle.

25. Memphis Grizzlies - Evan Fournier, SG, France
Memphis is looking for more scoring to compete with the top teams in the Western Conference. The Frenchman can do that.

26. Indiana Pacers – Marquis Teague, PG, Kentucky
The Pacers are on the rise and Teague could help out the second unit while getting to play close to home.

27. Miami Heat – Festus Ezeli, C, Vanderbilt
The Heat struggled with the size of the Pacers. Ezeli will make them much bigger.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder – Draymond Green, SF, Michigan St.
He can do some of everything, making him a great fit for a team that isn’t lacking anything.

29. Chicago Bulls - Tony Wroten Jr., PG, Washington
The Bulls need somebody to help Derrick Rose get some rest and stay healthy.

30. Golden State Warriors – Doron Lamb, SG, Kentucky
The first round ends the way it began….with a Kentucky Wildcat.

September 26, 2011

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Ten Moves to Save NCAA College Football

By: Anson Whaley

College football just got a whole lot more interesting with the recent moves of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC. The two schools may have inadvertently set off a future exodus of teams heading to other football conferences. Things actually got underway with the news that Texas A&M was headed to the SEC, but that was hardly the move that could cause a mass migration of NCAA teams leaving for greener pastures. However, that coupled with these two recent defections is. That said, if it were up to me, here’s how it would all shake out in ten simple moves:

10. Texas and Oklahoma realize they can save the Big 12: At some point, the Longhorns and Sooners figure out that it makes no sense to head west to the NCAA’s Pac-12. The Midwest rejoices as both schools announce they’re staying in the Big 12 and things start to get crazy.

9. TCU joins the Big 12: Texas’ and Oklahoma’s first call is to TCU, who’s utterly confused at this point. Getting ready to join the Big East in 2012, they’re convinced by the Longhorns and Sooners that they should come to the Big 12 because, you know, they should actually be in the East to play in a conference called the Big East. The Horned Frogs concur and cancel their flights to New York for their introductory Big East press conference. Big East commissioner John Marinatto just finds out minutes before the conference is scheduled to begin when he receives a text from CBS Sports’ Brett McMurphy.

8. Connecticut to the ACC: With the Big East on verge of collapse, UConn heads to the ACC to form the most dominant basketball conference with the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Pitt, and Syracuse. The Huskies mention something about having an NCAA football program, too, but no one actually pays attention.

7. Notre Dame to the ACC: The Irish, not wanting to be upstaged, surprise everyone by agreeing to join the ACC. Notre Dame explains the move by saying they don’t want to be left out of the NCAA football national championship picture … even though they’ve not won enough games to compete for one in nearly 20 years.

6. West Virginia to the SEC: Marinatto, now in a desperate panic to keep the conference together, informs fans they’re actively looking to expand – even with only six teams left. The Mountaineers aren’t convinced and apply to the SEC for a second time. This time, they get in and couches are promptly burnt to a crisp in Morgantown.

5. Big East Basketball Schools Jump Ship: Realizing the football side is nearly dead, the Big East basketball-only schools (DePaul, Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, St. John’s, Providence, and Seton Hall) leave to start their own conference. An ugly lawsuit ensues over the naming rights and the basketball side wins, allowing them to continue as the Big East. They promptly add Xavier and Butler while giving the boot to DePaul because they’re, well, DePaul.

4. Louisville and Cincinnati to the Big 12: Marinatto officially announces the end of the Big East after extending invitations to Navy, Army, and Air Force and never having his calls returned. Louisville and Cincinnati find a good fit in the Midwest.

3. Houston to the Big 12: The Cougars join the Big 12 and Houston brings one of the top ten TV markets along with it. Texas and Oklahoma shake hands as they’ve officially survived expansion. They then turn heel and revoke the membership of Missouri for threatening to leave earlier.

2. Rutgers to Big Ten: The Scarlet Knights and South Florida flip a coin to decide who can join the Big Ten. Wanting the NY/NJ market, conference officials pull the ‘Heads Rutgers wins, tails South Florida loses’ routine to perfection as USF goes independent.

1. BYU Joins Pac-12: Not wanting to be left out, the Pac-12 adds a team merely to keep up. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany immediately issues a press release saying it makes no sense for a conference with 13 teams to call itself the Pac-12.

Um, right.

June 21, 2011

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Mock NBA Draft

By: Joe Williams

Cleveland

Kyrie Irving, PG, Duke

Ever since the Cavs won the draft lottery, the talk has been either Irving or Derrick Williams with the first pick. It has been reported that Cleveland has decided on Irving.

Nick Gilbert won the lottery, securing the #1 NBA draft pick for the Cavaliers

Minnesota

Derrick Williams, SF, Arizona

The Timberwolves need all the help they can get. Williams and Irving are the consensus top two players in this NBA draft.

Utah
Enes Kanter, C, Turkey
With two picks in the top 12, the Jazz have options. The Irving and Williams are pretty locked in as the top two picks, so the wheeling and dealing could start here. Utah stays put and takes a 7-footer, hoping he can become one of the few legitimate big men in the NBA.

Cleveland
Jonas Valanciunas, C, Lithuania
With Irving on board, the Cavs look to get some help inside. If they can hit on these two picks, it will go a long way towards moving on from the Lebron James era.
 
Toronto
Jan Vesely, SF, Czech Republic
The Raptors have a history of drafting international players. Why stop now?
 
Washington
Tristan Thompson, PF, Texas
The Wizards have plenty of young guns in the backcourt. Picking up Thompson would give them some help on the glass.
 
Sacramento
Brandon Knight, PG, Kentucky
The Kings go for another Wildcat to join DeMarcus Cousins. Adding Knight to run the point will allow Tyreke Evans to move to the two-guard.
 
Detroit
Jordan Hamilton, SF, Texas
After all the trouble in Detroit with Rip Hamilton last year, nobody would expect the Pistons to draft another Hamilton. Wrong.
 
Charlotte
Kemba Walker, PG, Connecticut
The Bobcats need another scorer. Michael Jordan and company hope Walker can be that guy.
 
Milwaukee
Alec Burks, SG, Colorado
Milwaukee is set at point guard and center. The Bucks need more firepower.
 
Golden State
Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Diego State
The Warriors need someone who will crash the boards and provide some toughness.
 
Utah
Jimmer Fredette, PG, BYU
If Jimmer is still on the board here, Utah has to take him. Don’t they? The fan base will go bonkers if the Jazz pass on the Jimmer.
 
Phoenix
Marcus Morris, PF, Kansas
The Suns ought to be looking for a big man who can rebound.
 
Houston
Nikola Vucevic, C, USC
Yao Ming may need to be replaced. If Ming does return, the Rockets would be wise to have some insurance in case he gets hurt again.
 
Indiana
Bismack Biyombo, PF, Spain
The Pacers could use another big man to rebound.
 
Philadelphia
Tobias Harris, PF, Tennessee
The Sixers have plenty of young talent in the backcourt so they look to get some help for Elton Brand on the inside.
 
New York
Klay Thompson, SG, Washington State
The Knicks add a shooter to help spread the floor with Anthony and Stoudemire.
 
Washington
Nikola Mirotic, SF, Serbia
The Wizards hope the Serbian can develop into a key contributor.
 
Charlotte
Chris Singleton, SF, Florida State
There is a good chance Charlotte will not pick here on NBA draft night, but if they do they will go for the best player on their board.

Minnesota
Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Lithuiana
Minnesota shocks everyone by not taking a point guard.

Portland
Markieff Morris, PF, Kansas
The Blazers should let the team doctor make this pick and bring in the healthiest player on the board.

Denver
Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence
Good luck finding the next Carmelo Anthony at this point. Denver has lots of free agents so they could take any position. Might as well take a guy who scored more than 24 points a game.
 
Houston
Kenneth Faried, PF, Morehead State
The Rockets add another big man.
 
Oklahoma City
JaJuan Johnson, PF, Purdue
The Thunder could use a low post scorer to take some pressure off of Kevin Durant.

Boston
Jeremy Tyler, PF
Is Kendrick Perkins available?
 
Dallas
Norris Cole, PG, Cleveland State
The NBA champions will try to find a point guard to take over when Jason Kidd retires.
 
New Jersey
Justin Harper, PF, Richmond
The Nets need to get Deron Williams another scorer.
 
Chicago Bulls
Shelvin Mack, SG, Butler
A shooting guard who can score would really help Derrick Rose.
 
San Antonio
Jon Leuer, PF, Wisconsin
Tim Duncan is not the man he once was.
 
Chicago Bulls
Travis Leslie, SG, Georgia
Why not take a pair of two guards and hope one becomes the missing piece?

March 28, 2011

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Final Four as Unpredictable as the Regular Season

By: Anson Whaley

The Final Four is here and March Madness is coming to an end. This year’s tournament has proved to be just as unpredictable as the regular season. Sure, the way the UConn Huskies were playing, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to see them end up in Houston. But Virginia Commonwealth? Butler? Kentucky? This looks almost more like an NIT Final Four than an NCAA Tournament Final Four. We might as well throw in Jimmy Chitwood and the Hickory Hoosiers.

Let’s start with UConn – the Huskies won five consecutive games in the Big East tournament on their way to the Final Four. They were playing their best ball over the past month and because of that, were a trendy pick to get this far. Personally, I didn’t see it. The Big East is a brutal tournament, and Connecticut played those five games in five days. After a tough regular season, even with one of the best basketball players in the nation in Kemba Walker, I figured they’d tire at some point. It hasn’t happened yet, though, and coach Jim Calhoun showed why he’s a Hall of Fame coach. UConn isn’t only in the Final Four again; they also may be the odds on favorites to win.

Kentucky came out of the East region after taking out top seed Ohio State and No. 2 seed North Carolina. The fact that the Wildcats were almost upset in the opening round by 13-seed Princeton is the perfect example of just how crazy this tournament has been. Kentucky now gets the unenviable task of trying to slow down Walker’s Huskies.  Sure, they’re led by a freshman in Brandon Knight, but we’ve seen before that first-year players are capable of carrying teams on their backs to win NCAA titles (see Carmelo Anthony and the 2002-03 Syracuse Orange).

On the other side of the bracket, there’s Virginia Commonwealth. After the selection committee chose VCU as a part of the field, lots of analysts, including ESPN’s Jay Bilas, had a field day telling the world just why they didn’t belong. And while their magical run is truly amazing, Bilas had this one right.  Virginia Commonwealth’s improbable run doesn’t mean the selection committee did the right thing putting them in the tournament. Their tournament success should really be viewed independently of that selection. That said, they’ve definitely made the most of their opportunity and proved they have an excellent, well-coached team.

They’ll be facing the Butler Bulldogs, another surprise team. Butler reached the championship game last season, falling to Duke in the final seconds. Not many people gave them a chance to win even their first two games but after upsetting Pitt, Butler went even further in knocking off the Wisconsin Badgers and No. 2 seed Florida Gators. The Bulldogs not only have some quality players in Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack, but they have experience on their side as much of the team’s roster was on last year’s squad, and they know what it takes to advance in the tournament.

So now what? What should we expect? Well, after going 0-fer in Final Four predictions at the start of the NCAAs, the only prediction I feel comfortable making is this: the madness we’ve seen in March is very likely to spill over into April, and I can’t wait.