College Basketball Nation: Dave Rose

3-point shot: Josh Smith's transition

October, 24, 2013

Andy Katz discusses Josh Smith's transition to Georgetown, Dave Rose's return to BYU, and Oregon State's undermanned start to the season.

3-point shot: Best Final Four hosts

September, 20, 2013
1. The Final Four is accepting offers for future sites for 2017-20. The deadline for the bids is Oct. 11. Let's clear this up a bit. Indianapolis, host again in 2015 after North Texas in 2014, has a deal with the NCAA that they will host at least every five years through 2039. Indianapolis is a great host city with its proximity between venues and passion for the sport. The plan for a new dome in Atlanta, tentatively scheduled to open in 2017, would put that city back in the mix. New domes are always looking for huge events. If North Texas is a success, then putting the event back in Jerry's World will likely happen. I'm hopeful San Antonio and New Orleans will continue to bid for the event, as both cities have been terrific hosts and are accessible for fans. You need destinations for an event like the Final Four. That's why Houston was not a great host. The Final Four was too spread out at three different locations with nothing happening around the dome itself. Houston somehow got two Final Fours the last time the bids were handed out. Houston hosted in 2011 and will again in 2016. Phoenix/Glendale failed to host the last time around. So it will be interesting to see if they make a play again for the event. The 60,000-seat minimum and 10,000-hotel room minimum will limit some from bidding.

2. Practice starts next Friday in college basketball and teams are looking for creative ways to get fans interested early. Duke will host an open practice next Saturday from 10 to noon. But my favorite is Pitt. The Panthers had a successful late-night event on campus. This time, the Panthers are hosting an event in advance of Pitt playing Virginia in football near Heinz Field. So the morning madness next Saturday at 10:30 a.m. will try to get Panthers fans jazzed. There will be a special guest, though. Check him out here.

3. BYU coach Dave Rose is home and resting after having cancerous spots removed. But he is well enough to host recruits this weekend. If anything, the recruits should see the courage and fight in Rose that should provide quite a sales pitch to play for someone who is going through something much harder than they would ever dream about while playing at BYU. The plan is still for Rose to be ready to go for the start of practice on Oct. 7. The Cougars are choosing to wait a week to start.

3-point shot: Colorado assists neighbors

September, 16, 2013
1. Colorado coach Tad Boyle, his staff and players helped on campus Saturday to aid those in need after floods in the Boulder area that have affected thousands. The team fed displaced families and helped cover short-staffed crews in the cafeteria.

2. BYU coach Dave Rose is expected to be released from the hospital Monday after last week's surgery to remove cancerous spots. Rose will have to take it easy the next few weeks, but the Cougars' staff expects him to be ready for the start of BYU practice Oct. 7. Teams are allowed to start practicing on Sept. 27. But the new rule is for 30 practices within 42 days of a team's first game, so schools can manage the start time to their schedule. That means there will be staggered practice days from Sept. 27 with not every team practicing on the same days.

3. No one should be surprised by former UTEP signee Isaac Hamilton ending up at UCLA. Hamilton's family made it clear that he wanted to be at USC or UCLA once he told UTEP he wasn't going to attend so he could be closer to his ailing grandmother. According to Hamilton's father, Greg, Isaac can be on a scholarship but without being released from his national letter of intent, he cannot play this season. UCLA cannot comment on Hamilton's arrival until all his paperwork is in to the school. UCLA coach Steve Alford is on the lookout for talent that can produce from Southern California. The onus will be on Hamilton to be a force in the fall of 2014 by using this ineligible season to his advantage.
Editor's note: Over two days, we're releasing the brackets/matchups for 11 of the top early-season events. A thread of previews and info for all 11 tourneys can be found here.

When and where: Nov. 25-26 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Semifinal schedule for the CBE Hall of Fame Classic:
Nov. 25: Texas vs. BYU (7:30 p.m., ESPNU); Wichita State vs. DePaul (10, ESPN3)
Nov. 26: Consolation game (7:30 p.m., ESPNU); Championship game (10, ESPN2)

Initial thoughts: Wichita State couldn’t have picked a better year to travel three hours northeast on Interstate 35 for a game in Kansas City. The Shockers, who have a large alumni base in the area, are riding high after last season’s Final Four appearance. And no one would be surprised if Gregg Marshall’s squad is even better this season. Wichita State returns three starters (Ron Baker, Cleanthony Early and Tekele Cotton) along with its top reserve (point guard Fred VanVleet) from its 30-win team. ... DePaul was a massive disappointment in 2012-13, when it won just 11 games. But the Blue Demons could be on the cusp of a breakthrough season thanks to the return of leading scorers Cleveland Melvin and Brandon Young. ... BYU has reason for optimism as well. Led by Tyler Haws, the Cougars return nearly every key piece from the squad that won 24 games and reached last year’s NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden. ... Texas went 16-18 last season and failed to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in Rick Barnes’ tenure. Things could get even worse in 2013-14. The Longhorns lost their top three scorers and signed a lackluster recruiting class compared to past seasons.

[+] EnlargeWichita State Shockers forward Cleanthony Early
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY SportsWichita State's Cleanthony Early gained national attention with his performance in the Final Four.
Matchup I can’t wait to see: DePaul is athletic and physical enough to upset Wichita State in the semifinals. Both teams feature veteran players, so chemistry won’t be as big of an issue as it will be for other schools this early in the season. I won’t be shocked if this is a competitive game, especially compared to the other semifinal.

Potential matchup I’d like to see: Wichita State vs. BYU. These are clearly the best two teams in the field, so it’d be fitting for them to end up in the title game. The Cougars averaged 76.5 points per game last season, a mark that ranked 18th in the country, but it will be interesting to see how they fare against an aggressive Wichita State squad that is known for its toughness and intensity on defense.

Five players to watch

Cleanthony Early, Wichita State: The top NBA prospect in this field averaged a team-high 13.9 points per game last season and ranked second on the squad in rebounds (5.4). The 6-foot-8 small forward is an incredibly difficult matchup because he spends most of his time outside the paint. Early scored 24 points against Louisville in the NCAA semifinals and was named to the All-Final Four team.

Tyler Haws, BYU: The guard averaged 21.7 points a game last season -- dropping 42 on Virginia Tech -- and 28.8 points in the NIT. Haws is a volume shooter who hoisted 15.9 attempts per game in 2012-13. He connected on 48 percent of his attempts, so for the most part he’s taking quality shots. He’s the type of guy who can beat a team by himself.

Cleveland Melvin, DePaul: The rising junior has hinted on Twitter that the 2013-14 season could be his last before entering the NBA draft. Melvin has certainly posted some head-turning numbers. He averaged 16.6 points a game as a sophomore last season along with a team-high 6.8 boards. Melvin, who is 6-foot-8, averaged 17.5 points and 7.4 rebounds a game as a freshman in 2011-12.

Ioannis Papapetrou, Texas: The 6-8 small forward was one of the few bright spots for Texas last season, when he averaged 8.3 points per game, which makes him the Longhorns’ leading returning scorer. He also snared 4.4 boards per contest. Along with producing on the court, Texas needs Papapetrou to assume more of a leadership role in 2013-14.

Fred VanVleet, Wichita State: The sophomore point guard will be under a lot of scrutiny early in the season as he moves into the starting lineup to replace graduated senior Malcolm Armstead. VanVleet certainly shouldn’t have any jitters. He averaged 16.2 minutes per game last season and logged 23 minutes in Wichita State’s NCAA semifinal loss to Louisville. VanVleet’s transition into a starting role needs to be seamless if the Shockers hope to avoid taking a step back.

Title game prediction: Wichita State over BYU

Along with the confidence gained from last season’s Final Four appearance, the Shockers will have something else going for them in the CBE Classic: home-court advantage. Wichita State already had a lot of supporters in the Kansas City area before last season. That number probably doubled following its magical postseason run. Still, even though the Shockers return four key players, they’ll also be incorporating some new pieces. This is a game BYU can win, especially because of the Cougars’ ability to score and the presence of a marquee player such as Haws. This should be a great game between two strong programs led by two of the country’s most underrated coaches (Wichita State’s Marshall and BYU’s Dave Rose). The Shockers are the slight favorite.

Who others are picking:

Eamonn Brennan: Wichita State over BYU
Jeff Goodman: Texas over Wichita State
Andy Katz: Wichita State over Texas
Myron Medcalf: Wichita State over BYU
Dana O'Neil: Wichita State over BYU

3-point shot: BYU in on Jabari Parker?

August, 31, 2012
1. BYU is still a serious contender for the No. 1 player in the country in Jabari Parker. How so? Parker made an unofficial visit to Provo on Thursday and met with coach Dave Rose, according to multiple sources. Parker, who is Mormon, has made multiple unofficial visits to various schools. The 6-foot-8 forward out of Simeon High in Chicago has a laundry list of program that would take him in a second: BYU, DePaul, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina and Stanford. But getting Parker on campus for the Cougars is still a major coup. The Cougars have quite a weekend ahead after the football team blasted Washington State in its home opener Thursday: Point guard Nick Emery and center Eric Mika, committed 2013 top-100 players out of Highland (Utah) Lone Peak High, are making official visits

2. Gonzaga coach Mark Few and his wife, Marcy, raised $572,000 at their Coaches vs. Cancer Weekend event to give them an 11-year total of more than $6 million to the American Cancer Society and local cancer-fighting organizations, as well as over $1 million to Camp Goodtimes ($158,000 of the total from this year’s event goes to the camp). Meanwhile, the Zags’ top recruit, 7-1 Polish big man Przemek Karnowski, is due on campus on Sept. 10 after playing for the Polish national team. Karnowski hasn’t played with the current players but that shouldn’t be an issue if he’s as good as advertised. The Zags checked to make sure it was OK that Karnowski delayed in entering the fall semester.

3. Syracuse and Pitt are expected to be a part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in 2013 when they are members of the ACC. There was initial talk of not including them because they were new -- but that was never going to fly. The ACC hasn’t officially decided how it will decide the 12 teams that will go against the 12 from the Big Ten. But one proposal that will be discussed is to pair the top 12 RPI teams from the previous season in the ACC with the 12 Big Ten teams. If that’s the case, the bottom teams will get frozen out. But the ACC will need to let those two teams know as soon as the season ends so that they can prepare their non-conference schedule to omit a Big Ten game.
1. UNLV coach Dave Rice said that heralded freshman Anthony Bennett isn’t eligible yet and won’t be in summer school. “He’s been admitted to UNLV, but the NCAA clearinghouse eligibility center is still evaluating him. It’s not unusual. But we’re very optimistic that he’ll be here in late August." The 6-foot-8 Bennett, a native of Ontario, finished his high school at Findlay College Prep in Las Vegas. Bennett is projected to be an impact player for the Mountain West Conference favorites. Bennett would play alongside Mike Moser and give the Rebels one of the top frontcourts in the West. Rice also said assistant coach Stacey Augmon has a standing offer to be an assistant under Mike Dunlap with the Charlotte Bobcats. But he said Augmon is on the road recruiting for UNLV this weekend and hasn’t made a decision.

2. Kentucky coach John Calipari doesn’t usually need too many advantages, but it’s hard not to see him gaining one in the recruitment of No. 1 2015 player Karl Towns Jr., after coaching him on the Dominican Republic national team. Towns plays at St. Joseph High in Metuchen, N.J., but he had a chance to play under three of the Kentucky staffers with Orlando Antigua and Rod Strickland coaching alongside Calipari. Calipari went into the Dominican experience with the goal being to get to the Olympics and increase the basketball culture in the national program. But he might ultimately benefit most with one of the best players available in the coming years.

3. Baylor freshman Isaiah Austin is projected to be the replacement for Perry Jones III and the most impactful freshman in the Big 12 outside of Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart. The 7-foot center was a major get for Baylor coach Scott Drew, especially since he was from Arlington. Georgetown, Houston, Texas and Kentucky were all recruiting him. Drew has had a chance to work him out. “He’s really skilled, a really good pick-and-roll player,’’ said Drew. “His size is unbelievable. And he’s gotten stronger.’’ Austin will need to be more than PJ3. He needs to find his inner Quincy Acy and become a force inside.
1. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and his assistant coaches are as good at adapting to the current climate as any staff. Kentucky doesn’t have the market cornered on one-and-done players. Duke has done it and will continue to do so. The pickup of Rodney Hood from Mississippi State was a major get and will ensure that the Blue Devils have one of the top guards in the country in the fall of 2013. Hood will be a third-year college student, a second-year Duke student, but a likely one-time Duke basketball player. Former Bulldog teammate Arnett Moultrie said during the Chicago pre-draft camp that Hood told him he was one-and-done wherever he landed after the one season. I won’t be surprised at all if that occurs. Hood should have a big impact with the Blue Devils and be high enough on NBA draft lists to leave after one season in Durham.

2. BYU coach Dave Rose, who said as of this month he has been cancer free for three years following a life-threatening/altering pancreatic tumor that was removed in an emergency surgery in Las Vegas, is raving about the return of Tyler Haws from a two-year Mormon mission. Haws is back in summer school and getting back in shape. Rose said he can score inside, drive and finish at the rim and is a tremendous free-throw shooter. He was all MWC as a freshman. He’ll immediately be one of the top players in the WCC, not on Gonzaga, next season.

3. The NCAA men’s basketball selection committee met last week in Salt Lake City and met with newly named director of the tourney: the Big East’s Dan Gavitt. The reaction to Gavitt has been overwhelmingly positive within the NCAA and from former committee members like Princeton AD Gary Walters, who said it was the best move the committee has made in years. Meanwhile, the committee made a few changes. The first ballot that is submitted for at-large teams now must have three votes instead of two for a team to make it; the first four lines instead of the first five in a region are now protected and the committee may now be open to stopping the practice of separating the top three teams in each conference in a region because of the larger conferences being formed. This would give the committee more flexibility, even if some conference members met early in a region.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The NCAA tournament has arrived at the KFC Yum! Center, and this pod definitely comes Kentucky-fried for your enjoyment.

Murray State begins the day by playing within its state's borders, and No. 1 seed Kentucky and No. 16 seed Western Kentucky will renew their intermittent rivalry in the evening. But some outsiders will seek to crash this Commonwealth celebration.

Let's take a look at the afternoon games on tap here Thursday:

No. 6 seed Murray State (30-1) vs. No. 11 seed Colorado State (19-13), 12:15 p.m. ET

What to watch: Is Murray State for real? That has been a season-long question, as the Racers won their first 23 games and broke into the top 10 for the first time in school history. They ended the season ranked ninth in the coaches' poll but received a No. 6 seed because of a soft schedule. But they drew a favorable opening matchup in Colorado State, a guard-oriented team that doesn't have a player over 6-foot-6. The Rams love any open shot and rank sixth nationally in 3-point field goal percentage.

Who to watch: Murray State guard Isaiah Canaan is one of the top players in the country, averaging 19.2 points and shooting 47 percent from 3-point range. Colorado State coach Tim Miles admiringly described Canaan as a "pain in the butt" and went so far as to compare him to Jimmer Fredette. If the Racers make a run in this tournament, Canaan could be one of the breakout stars of March.

Why to watch: Any team that goes 30-1 must be doing something right, and Murray State can cause enough matchup problems to make a run to the Sweet 16. The Ohio Valley Conference champ has won a game in each of the last two NCAA tournaments. Colorado State is looking for its first NCAA win since 1989, and the highly entertaining Miles will churn out some memorable sound bites if it happens.

What they're saying: "I think we're kind of used to this situation. We've kind of been looked at as an underdog all year long. I know that gym's probably not going to be in our favor [Thursday]. Our conference tournament kind of prepared us for that a little bit. So we're used to this kind of atmosphere. We're going to try not to let that stuff get to us and just concentrate on our game plan and the way we've got to play to win." -- Colorado State guard Wes Eikmeier.

"I think Murray's always been on the map. They have a great winning tradition. But I just think with this year that it just opened up some more eyes. More people kind of went out of their way to see where Murray State was, who these guys were, what are they doing, how do they represent themselves. So I think it was just a matter of us doing a little bit extra for the program." -- Murray State guard Donte Poole.

Of note: Poole signed with Colorado State out of high school and even attended summer school there in 2007. ... The Racers are one of just five teams to enter the NCAA tournament with only one loss but not earn a No. 1 seed. The best showing by any of those previous teams was Texas Tech's Sweet 16 run in 1996. ... Miles has often worn a Smarty Jones hat in honor of the 2004 Kentucky Derby winner to remind his teams of their underdog possibilities. "And just by chance, we end up in Louisville," he said. "I thought that was pretty cool karma."

No. 3 seed Marquette (25-7) vs. No. 14 seed BYU (26-8), approximately 2:45 p.m. ET

What to watch: Marquette crashed the Sweet 16 as a No. 11 seed a year ago and now looms as a potential Final Four threat in the West Region. The Golden Eagles love to get out in transition, and BYU just beat one of the fastest teams in the country while completing a stunning comeback against Iona in Dayton. Can BYU follow VCU's unconventional path from a year ago?

Who to watch: Marquette's 1-2 punch of Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder. Johnson-Odom can beat you from 3-point range or off the bounce, while Big East player of the year Crowder is a 6-6 matchup nightmare who can do a little of everything. Both are seniors who won't be easily rattled.

Why to watch: BYU has already turned in possibly one of the most entertaining games of this year's tournament, and the Cougars have the fascinating redemption saga of forward Brandon Davies. Marquette matches the high energy of its coach, Buzz Williams, and is almost never boring.

What they're saying: "When I first got in here, I smelled the chicken being cooked. So that reminded me of the last time we were here." -- Marquette's Crowder, recalling his team's last appearance at the KFC Yum! Center, when the Golden Eagles blew an 18-point lead in the final six minutes during a loss last year to Louisville.

"A lot of confidence comes from coming from behind and winning, especially in the NCAA tournament. There's a lot of new emotions and adrenaline that comes into play when you're in this tournament. It gives us a lot of confidence to know that we can play and battle back from a pretty big deficit." -- BYU forward Brock Zylstra.

Of note: Marquette typically wins the fast-break battle, but it gave up a season-high 35 transition points in its loss to Louisville in the Big East tournament last week. ... The last time the Golden Eagles were a No. 3 seed, they made the Final Four in 2003 behind Dwyane Wade. ... With Tuesday's victory, BYU has won NCAA tournament games in three straight years for the first time in school history. ... The Cougars spent Tuesday night in Dayton and made the short bus ride to Louisville on Wednesday, arriving about 2:30 p.m. ... BYU coach Dave Rose said forward Noah Hartsock, who has been battling knee and ankle problems, was "pretty sore" after the Iona game, but he expected Hartsock to be ready to play Thursday.
Editor's Note: For Myron's recap of Saturday's afternoon action, click here.

More Saturday games. More drama. A weekend slate that wasn’t supposed to offer much ultimately produced an impressive collection of games. Saturday night only added to the excitement.

Washington 69, Arizona 67

This game might have been a preview of the vibe we’ll see in the Pac-12 tournament. Not one team in this league can feel secure about its NCAA tournament hopes, but the conference's collective downfall does make for plenty of must-win drama.

Consider this: Between the 14:16 and 2:28 marks of the second half, Arizona recorded exactly one field goal. And yet, with two minutes to play, this was just a six-point game. Solomon Hill’s 3-pointer with 9 seconds to play tied the game at 67. He was awesome, scoring 28 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. But while he made nine of his 10 shots, the rest of team went 12-of-40 (30 percent) from the field.

And after Hill's big bucket, Josiah Turner committed a huge foul on C.J. Wilcox, who hit a pair of free throws before freshman Tony Wroten blocked Turner’s layup at the buzzer. The Pac-12 is certainly down. But it’s also a very scrappy league right now because of the uncertainty. Arizona was bad for a chunk of this game, but the Wildcats kept coming -- because, well, it's UA-UW and these matchups are always dramatic.

The Huskies, who lead the Pac-12 at 7-2, scored a crucial road win, while Zona’s at-large hopes took another major blow with its third home loss of the season. Fun game.

No. 21 Virginia 61, North Carolina State 60

The Cavaliers led 55-45 with 6:37 on the clock, but barely held on here. The Wolfpack was sloppy for the bulk of this game and finished just 2-of-15 from beyond the arc. Near the five-minute mark, Alex Johnson missed three shots on one possession. He botched a layup on a fast break, then missed a contested follow-up and a 3-pointer. It was that kind of evening for the Pack.

But they bounced back and chipped away at Virginia’s lead. They outscored UVa 15-5 in the final six minutes of the game and Scott Wood hit a late 3 to close the gap to 1. The Cavs missed a jumper in the final seconds so NC State had a chance to tie on the last possession, but Virginia’s defense clamped down on Lorenzo Brown, whose 3-point attempt at the buzzer was way off.

The Cavs continue to find ways to win and force teams to play their grind-it-out style of basketball. Mike Scott (18 points) certainly helped, but Virginia was outrebounded 42-25 -- it gave up more offensive boards (18) than it had defensive boards (17)! -- and still pulled out the win. The Cavaliers' 17th victory gives them one more than all of last season.

That’s certainly something to be proud of, but I’m not sold on the Cavs as a team that will do damage in the NCAA tournament. Not with struggles against Towson, a bad home loss against Virginia Tech and other so-so efforts this season. Their finish against NC State on Saturday showcased some of this team’s flaws.

No. 20 Saint Mary’s 80, BYU 66

Wait, wasn't this supposed to be the weekend that the Gaels fell in West Coast Conference play? As impressive as SMC's 8-0 start in the WCC was, there was a palpable buzz that suggested the Gaels' success was directly linked to the fact that they played five of their first eight conference games at home, including routs of BYU and Gonzaga.

A rematch with Brigham Young on the road -- the Marriott Center is one of the most challenging venues in the country -- spelled doom. Right? But Saint Mary’s truly separated itself from the rest of the league with a 14-point victory that really wasn't even that close, despite SMC's heavy turnover total (24). It was a scrappy game both on the floor and off it -- fans threw things onto the court at one point as the Cougars lost back-to-back home games for the first time ever under Dave Rose. Four Gaels recorded double-figure point totals, led by Brad Waldow (19 points, 8 rebounds). I already can't wait for that Saint Mary's-Gonzaga game in Spokane.

Some more observations from Saturday night ...
  • Oh Dayton, you confusing Atlantic 10 contender (pretender?). From Dec. 7 through Jan. 7, the Flyers won seven of eight games, including victories over Alabama, Ole Miss, Saint Louis and Temple. They’ve now lost three of five after Saturday’s 86-81 home loss to … wait for it … Rhode Island (4-18, 1-6 Atlantic 10). That’s not OK. What a wacky league. Xavier, Saint Louis and Dayton, three teams expected to emerge from the crowd, all have three conference losses as La Salle, St. Bonaventure and UMass (a very impressive winner over the Billikens on Saturday) share the conference lead. The A-10 seems as wide open and as unpredictable as any league in the country. Who can call it right now? Not me.
  • The last time Minnesota and Illinois faced off, the Gophers lost to the Illini in double overtime in Champaign. On Saturday, Minnesota got its revenge with a 77-72 OT win at the Barn. After losing their first four conference games, the Gophers have won four of their past five. They’re a young team with limited depth, but Tubby Smith has coached this team extremely well in this five-game stretch.
  • It was a huge night in Conference USA as the league's top four teams squared off. What we learned is that Memphis and Southern Miss, which play each other Wednesday in Hattiesburg, are the conference's co-favorites. Behind a career-high 29 from Will Barton, the Tigers rallied in the second half for a hard-fought home win against Marshall. The Golden Eagles also had a huge second half to win in Orlando, where UCF had won 16 straight (including a recent victory over Memphis). Neil Watson and Kentucky transfer Darnell Dodson combined for 45 points as Larry Eustachy's underrated squad improved to 19-3. Yes, 19-3.
  • Think the Mountain West is a pushover? No. 15 UNLV needed overtime to dismiss Boise State on the road and the Rebels needed an extra period again Saturday, when they beat Air Force 65-63. AFA is ranked 156th in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted tempo ratings and Vegas is 17th, but these two squads were even on the scoreboard until the closing seconds. But the Falcons committed two turnovers in the last 15 seconds of the contest and squandered their chances to win this one late. Still, it was more evidence that the Mountain West is deeper than it appears to be on the surface. Mike Moser continued his destructive streak with 27 points and 12 rebounds.
  • Oklahoma scored a key road when it beat No. 24 Kansas State 63-60. The Sooners pressured the Wildcats, who committed 20 turnovers. Frank Martin has been preaching defense, but K-State didn’t have much against Steven Pledger, who scored 30 points. The Wildcats have lost three of their past six. Meanwhile, this had to be a satisfying win for Lon Kruger, who used to play and coach in Manhattan. What a great job he's done in his first year in Norman.
  • Seton Hall looked like an NCAA tournament team after it followed a blowout road loss at Syracuse with a four-game winning streak. But the Pirates have lost their past four and looked lackluster in a 60-51 home defeat to Louisville. Boy, that surprising season turned sour really quick, didn't it?
  • Speaking of New Jersey, how strange is this Rutgers season? After Saturday's victory over Cincinnati, the young Scarlet Knights now have wins over Florida, Connecticut and the Bearcats ... and losses to DePaul, Illinois State, Princeton and a down Richmond team.
  • Wichita State and Drake took a combined 149 shots in their triple-overtime thriller Saturday night. The Bulldogs outplayed the Shockers and deserved their 93-86 victory. Kraidon Woods’ layup for Drake sent the game into the first extra period and Rayvonte Rice hit a pair of late free throws to take the game into a second overtime. Drake’s Kurt Alexander and Wichita State’s Ben Smith traded late 3s in the second extra period to send the game into a third OT. In that third overtime, Drake scored the first five points and WSU couldn’t close the gap. The Shockers suffered their first loss since New Year’s Eve, but this is still a quality team. Wichita State is now one game behind Creighton in the MVC. Let's all count down to that Feb. 11 rematch in Omaha.
1. NC State coach Mark Gottfried is hoping for an Indiana-Assembly Hall like atmosphere to pull off a second consecutive Saturday upset of a No. 1 ranked team. The Hoosiers knocked off Kentucky last week and the Wolfpack host top-ranked Syracuse at the RBC Center this weekend. Gottfried said the crowd will be standing room only for this event. He said for the Wolfpack to have a shot they’ve got to take away the fast break, keep the ball out of the paint, not allow second-chance points and be effective from the short corner against the zone.

2. Baylor coach Scott Drew said he relishes the idea of playing at BYU’s Marriott Center on Saturday for what will easily be the Bears’ toughest game to date. The Cougars have been nearly unbeatable, with one loss in the past 49 games at the Marriott Center. BYU coach Dave Rose said the Cougars will have to pick up the pace to get space on rebounding against the Bears. BYU likely won’t be able to rebound in the halfcourt against Baylor’s length (see Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy). This game has to be up and down for BYU to have a shot. Meanwhile, the Bears get Cal transfer guard Gary Franklin eligible for this game, deepening an already solid perimeter.

3. Oregon is pleased with its unplanned and essential trade of the disgruntled Jabari Brown, who quit the team after two games, for eligible Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph. Joseph jumped to the top of the Ducks’ stat sheet after two games against Fresno State and Portland State, averaging a team-high 15.5 points and five assists a game. Meanwhile, an earlier report by Thursday was confirmed that Brown is down to Missouri and Georgia Tech, two programs that would take the unpredictable, but talented guard. Brown’s absence isn’t affecting the Ducks as much as some projected. Oregon has won five of six games without Brown (the only loss was BYU in Salt Lake City). To beat Virginia Sunday in Eugene, the Ducks will have to rebound effectively in the halfcourt against Mike Scott and a stingy Cavs defense.

Jimmer and friends resurrect hoops tonight

September, 22, 2011
There's a basketball game on national television tonight, and Jimmer is playing in it.

For fans lulled to sleep by the NBA lockout and the lengthy college offseason, the Jimmer's All-Stars event on the BYU campus will feature the professional debuts of numerous NBA draft picks, including host Jimmer Fredette, fellow team captain Kawhi Leonard and national champion Kemba Walker.

The exhibition features numerous storylines that developed after Team Fredette coached by BYU's Dave Rose and Team Leonard coached by San Diego State's Steve Fisher conducted a draft to fill in the eight-man rosters.

Fredette and Walker, the native New Yorkers who led the nation in scoring last season, will be on opposite sides and square off for the first time.

Fredette and Leonard, whose college teams had epic showdowns last season that raised the profile of the Mountain West and resulted in a shared conference championship, will face off again.

Fredette's team includes fellow Sacramento Kings draft pick Tyler Honeycutt, whose former UCLA teammate Malcolm Lee is on the other side and has the distinction of holding Fredette to a season-low of 25 points in games BYU lost last season.

Former BYU guard Jackson Emery also returns to the Marriott Center for possibly his one and only professional game, as he'll team up with Fredette one more time after recently deciding to step away from basketball.

And for NBA fans looking to get a glimpse of first-round picks Bismack Biyombo, Chris Singleton, Tobias Harris, Nolan Smith and Kenneth Faried, here's your chance.

"The draft was a lot of fun and helped continue the buzz about the game on Thursday," Fredette said in a statement. "I'm excited about my team and I know Kawhi feels like he has a great squad as well. Personally, I'm really looking forward to playing one final game with Jackson in front of our home fans. We had so many great memories during our career at BYU and it will be fun to enjoy one last game night experience together at the Marriott Center."

The game originally scheduled in Salt Lake City as part as what was to have been a two-game exhibition series was canceled, so tonight's the night to tune in to BYUtv.

Basketball is being played again, and that's reason enough for excitement.

BYU's new scoring leader is former walk-on

August, 25, 2011
BYU is somewhat of a mystery team heading into its first year in the West Coast Conference, as the Cougars try to find an identity with Jimmer Fredette no longer measuring up shots from the parking lot and Brandon Davies still not yet officially on the team following last season's suspension.

So, while the team's preseason tour of Greece included some sightseeing, it was more of a fact-finding mission and included a detour. The Cougars were a late addition to a tournament that enabled them to play experienced national teams from Greece and Italy.

They lost to the Greeks by 29 and to the Italians by 39, but out of the routs came the emergence of a new leading scorer named Brock Zylstra, a 6-foot-6 junior and former walk-on.

Zylstra averaged 17.3 points and six rebounds on the trip, scoring 26 against an Italian squad featuring three NBA players in a performance that should give him confidence. No one is asking him to replace Fredette or start up Brockmania. But for a swingman who after serving a two-year mission in New Zealand has played 49 games in two seasons averaging 4.3 points for BYU without making a single start, this was a big moment.

And he wasn't the only impressive one in Greece. Senior Charles Abouo averaged 14.8 points and 8.3 rebounds while highly regarded freshman Damarcus Harrison averaged 9.3 points. With the addition of UCLA transfer Matt Carlino in December, coach Dave Rose should have many players to choose from following the departures of Fredette and Jackson Emery. Another newcomer putting up notable numbers was returning missionary Josh Sharp, who after spurning Utah was able to knock off some rust and average 6.3 points and 3.8 rebounds.

The Cougars come home with a much better idea of where they stand.

Jimmer returns to BYU to host exhibitions

August, 22, 2011
Jimmer Fredette hasn't played his final game at BYU after all, and when he returns, he's bringing his friends from the NBA.

Fredette this morning announced this morning he'll be hosting rookie exhibitions in Utah -- Sept. 21 at the Maverik Center in Salt Lake City and Sept. 22 at the Marriott Center on the BYU campus -- that will serve as his professional debut, but really be more like a rock concert.

He told KSL that many top draft picks are expected to play, including fellow national player of the year finalist Kemba Walker and fellow Sacramento Kings rookies Tyler Honeycutt and Isaiah Thomas. Coaching the teams will be BYU's Dave Rose and San Diego State's Steve Fisher.

"We knew that it would be something that would be fun for everybody here in Utah to be able to come and watch us play for two more times," Fredette said. Since there was an NBA lockout, we knew that we weren't going to be able to play much organized basketball, so it might be a good thing to get a couple games in in front of fans especially."

Fredette told KSL that proceeds from the game would go to a charity that raised awareness for the vestibular system brain injury that his older brother, T.J., still suffers the effects from today.

The fans are certain to pack both arenas. Consider that when Fredette traveled with BYU last season back to his hometown of Glens Falls, N.Y., people camped out for tickets and showed that Jimmermania was alive and well thousands of miles from Provo.

Most of Fredette's fans could only watch on television as Fredette played his final college game in New Orleans during a loss to Florida in the Sweet 16. A return to BYU for one more homecoming game would give them a chance to applaud the All-American once again.

BYU feels presence of Brandon Davies

August, 8, 2011
BYU coach Dave Rose told me this afternoon that the status of Brandon Davies remained the same.

The 6-foot-9 forward who was suspended for violating the school's honor code and withdrew from school was spotted today at the Marriott Center playing in a 5-on-5 scrimmage with former players against current team members preparing for a preseason tour of Greece, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. At this point, Davies is unable to travel with the team and has yet to be reinstated.

But it does appear given that Davies is unofficially practicing with the team that he could very well be nearing a return to the Cougars. After losing Jimmer Fredette from a team that went to the Sweet 16, BYU really needs its top rebounder back in the fold.

The suspension Davies served for premarital sex has had a deep impact on the school. According to the Deseret News, the story of the school's handling of the incident has had a positive impact on the football team's recruiting.
"The moment the Brandon Davies thing hit the media, one of our associate athletic directors received a check from a woman who was not a member of the LDS faith, but saw the integrity being upheld and said she wanted to support this," [offensive coordinator Brandon] Doman said. "From that moment on, we've been receiving phone calls from moms and dads saying they wanted us to recruit their son because they want him in that environment. The volume of that hasn't been like that prior to this year."

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said that non-LDS athletes from around the country, who share the school's values, are indeed putting the Cougars on their lists of potential destinations.

"With the Brandon Davies story in basketball, it's been interesting to see how well-educated they are (about BYU) already. They are seeking us because of that story. They want those standards for their kids. It's helpful because they're not questioning, asking why (does BYU) have (those standards). They've already identified 'that's how we live, that's how we want our son to be raised.'"

BYU reverting to run-and-gun style

July, 18, 2011
The up-and-down style of play that BYU coach Dave Rose had used over the years got very much Jimmer Fredette-centric this past season, as the future lottery pick was able to shoot his way to national player of the year honors and lead the Cougars to the Sweet 16.

With Fredette gone, that creates opportunities for players to get more touches, and Rose will have to make some adjustments. He'll start by dusting off some of what worked for BYU long before handing off the reins of the offense to Fredette.

According to what Cougars forward Noah Hartsock told the Examiner-Enterprise, the style of play at BYU should be an attractive one to play within.
"When I talked to Coach [Dave] Rose, we talked a lot about how we’re getting back in the old system," Hartsock said earlier this week. "We're going to work back into a run-and-gun type of play and push the ball up the court."


Although Hartsock said he understood the special talent Fredette brought to the program, he's looking forward to the old-new system that "will create a lot of shots for everybody up the floor. We'll look to shot the first open shot or work it down to the post and get it inside. I think it suits me really well."

Hartsock, who averaged 8.6 points last season, is one of two returning seniors who will help BYU build itself back up after losing Fredette. The Cougars expect to get forward Brandon Davies back after his honor code suspension, and will also welcome in new pieces to the puzzle in freshman DeMarcus Harrison and UCLA transfer Matt Carlino, guards who should help push the pace.

So without Fredette, BYU will undoubtedly have to tweak its offense. Having players sold on the changes and excited about implementing them is an early positive sign for the Cougars that life after Jimmer can come with a smooth transition.