- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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What we're reading while we plot the most scenic route between D.C. and Iowa. Submit links via Twitter.
LaDontae Henton is not exactly coming out of nowhere: After all, he played big, efficient minutes for a very solid Providence team -- one that gave North Carolina a serious go in the NCAA tournament before its elimination -- in 2013-14. But last season's Friars were so dominated, literally and cognitively, by point guard Bryce Cotton that Henton remained under the radar nationally. After Sunday night, that will no longer be possible. Henton scored 38 points on 14-of-19 shooting in Providence's 75-74 Hall of Fame Tip-Off win over Notre Dame, prompting Irish coach Mike Brey to pull Henton aside after the game and tell him: "You've become a hell of a college player. Go win the Big East now." NBC's Rob Dauster has some background reading on Ed Cooley's latest senior star.
Speaking of the Big East, Sunday's Puerto Rico Tip-Off finale felt a bit like an old mid-aughts Big East tumble. UConn guard Ryan Boatright squared off with West Virginia's Juwan Staten, a matchup of the two fastest -- and maybe the two most confident -- guards in the country. For 40 minutes, as Boatright and Staten went at each other, West Virginia never surrendered a lead. Part of that has to do with suspensions UConn announced before the game Sunday: Omar Calhoun, Rakim Lubin, and walk-ons Dan Guest and Marcel Lewis were all forced to miss the game for undisclosed violations of team rules. But just as much had to do with West Virginia's obvious improvement on the defensive end. The Mountaineers pressed Connecticut for nearly 40 minutes, something no team could conceive of doing to the Huskies in last season's title run. In its five wins to date, West Virginia has forced opponents into turnovers on 30.8 percent of their possessions, sixth best in the country. And the Mountaineers' average defensive possession length is just 14.4 seconds, fourth lowest in the country. When you play Staten and Co., expect harassment -- both physical and verbal. West Virginia looks great so far.
On Monday night, Kansas is back in action for the first time since last Tuesday's Kentucky-inflicted 72-40 Champions Classic drubbing that left Bill Self in immediate need of postgame liquid therapy. So what will the Jayhawks do differently? The good news is they're playing Rider and not an insanely tall team with nine McDonald's All-Americans and two interchangable squads. The bad news is that even as late as Sunday, Self wasn't certain what his lineup would look like. But he was sure that freshman forward Kelly Oubre needs to play better, and soon.
How did Clemson lose to Gardner-Webb Friday? Calling a timeout it didn't have didn't help.
Dana O'Neil's latest edition of Four Corners -- her Monday morning column spanning the landscape of college hoops -- deserves a place on your weekly must-read list. It's that good. Today's edition, on the stubborn old coaching guard still going strong in their late 60s and beyond, is a lot of fun.