NCAA Daily Links
December 14, 2011
Hello folks, welcome to this Wednesday's edition of NCAA Daily. This NCAA season has been fairly unpredictable thus far and the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes have a situation that few could predict. That is the first thing we will get into:
When Will Jared Sullinger Return to the Buckeyes Line-up?
(Doug Lesmerises/The Plain Dealer)
While no team wants to lose and the Buckeyes have fallen in the polls after their loss to Kansas, the injury knocking Sullinger out of action early in the season could end up being a blessing in disguise.
Provided Sullinger returns to full strength and stays that way through the end of the year, his time away could help his teammates grow into better complimetary players after taking on greater responsibility during his time away.
Players such as Deshawn Thomas, (who is featured in the Plain Dealer piece), and Amir Williams and even William Buford are assuming bigger roles with the team.
After being considered one of the best players entering college basketball last season, Jared Sullinger completely lived up to the hype. The bruising PF (who basically mans the middle for Ohio State) averaged 17.2 ppg and 10.2 rpg as a freshman, leading the Ohio State Buckeyes to an impressive 34-3 season. He won the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year award, was the MVP of the Big 10 Tournament and a nearly unanimous First Team All-American selection. Surprisingly enough, Sullinger bypassed being a likely top 5 selection in the 2011 Draft to return to school for his sophomore year.
After an off-season spent working on improving his physique, Sullinger supposedly dropped his weight to 265 (from around 280 plus). The results seemed to be clearly visible, as Sullinger was even improving on last years impressive numbers. The unfortunate news has only come after a 7-0 start for the Buckeyes, as word came that Sullinger was suffering through painful back spasms. Coach Thad Matta has been saying that Sullinger is fine, even hinting that his star would be ready for this past Satuday's clash against #13 Kansas. But, Saturday came and Sullinger was on the sidelines watching the Buckeyes drop their first game of the season. Since than, there has been very little news about Sullinger's possible return. Matta claims that Sullinger can run, jump and shoot, but he does not want to rush his star back on the court.
With a player deemed as possibly the most dominant in all of college basketball on the sidelines, Ohio State has had to look for different players to step up. Sophomore Deshaun Thomas has truly stepped his game up during his absence. Thomas played admirably against Kansas, playing well in the post and on the perimeter. He is a player who knows how to get baskets and while he may be undersized for the 4 spot, the team needs him to be more of a back-to-the-basket type threat without their big man. Thomas played all 40 minutes against Kansas (his previous career high was 32) and scored 19 points, keeping the game close enough for Ohio State to stay at #2 in the polls.
The Buckeyes play South Carolina-Upstate tonight, with no sign that Sullinger will be in the line-up. They play University of South Carolina on Saturday, but have given no indication that their star big will be ready to play the SEC foe. It appears that Sullinger should indeed be back some time in the not to distant future, but Buckeyes fans will be on their toes until than. The Buckeyes also recently added freshman LaQuinton Ross to the line-up, as he enrolled late due to academic issues. Ross is a talented wing, but he is likely to sit out tonights game and will be brought along slowly while he learns his role on the team.
Future Preview: #6 Baylor vs. BYU
(Jason Franchuk/Daily Herald)
The Baylor Bears play their first game in 10 days since a 69-41 drubbing of than undefeated Northwestern. Not that they should be overlooking Bethune-Cookman tonight, but they have much more of a test on Saturday against the Brigham Young Cougars. Both teams are missing explosive scorers from last season, Baylor no longer has LaceDarius Dunn and BYU no longer has national scoring champ Jimmer Fredette. Despite this, both teams have managed to do pretty well without last years stars and have found some replacements.
Baylor has a couple of likely 2012 NBA lottery picks in Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller (with NBADraft.net getting a shoutout in the article), who both are long and talented forwards with worlds of potential. The 6'11 Jones III has looked fantastic since being suspended the first 5 games of the season, averaging 19.5 ppg in his two games back. Miller, a 6'9 combo forward, has been one of the nations most impressive freshmen, averaging 13.2 ppg. Senior forward Quincy Acy and junior guard Pierre Jackson fill out the athletic core of the 7-0 Bears.
The Cougars have relied on a strong front court as well, led by Noah Hartsock (17.3 ppg/6.9 rpg), Charles Abouo (12.3 ppg/7.2 rpg) and Brandon Davies (10.6 ppg/6.5 rpg). Davies, who was suspended late last season for breaking school rules, was the leading returning scorer and gives them a grinding middle presence. The Cougars expect to get some help with their back court as they welcome freshman Matt Carlino, a freshman transfer from UCLA. The Baylor game will be the first college game for Carlino, who was recruited by Baylor coach Scott Drew as well.
Dee Bost Helps #17 Mississippi State Hold Off Florida Atlantic
(Brandon Marcello/Clarion Ledger)
Redeeming a loss the year before where he could not play due to suspension, Dee Bost scored 13 of his game high 22 points in the last 10 minutes of a 75-68 win over the Florida Atlantic Owls. The game may not have been as close had the Bulldogs had the services of center Arnett Moultrie, but the big man missed the game due to knee tendinitis. MSU freshman Rodney Hood recorded his first career double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Bulldog big man Renardo Sidney had 10 points, 8 boards and 3 blocks though was limited to only 20 minutes due to foul trouble. The Owls fought back from a 10 point half time deficit, but despite 20 points from 5'6 Raymond Taylor, they came up short (pardon the pun).
#20 Michigan Beats Arkansas Pine-Bluff, But May Have Injury Issues
(Nick Baumgardner/Ann Arbor.com)
Despite a 63-50 win over Arkansas Pine-Bluff, the Michigan Wolverines may have a couple of losses in the player personnel department. They were without the services of valuable reserve Jon Horford due to a foot issue and star guard Tim Hardaway Jr. was limited to 19 minutes after bruising his tail bone. The bruise occured when Hardaway Jr. was whistled for a foul on All-Name Teamer Lazabian Jackson on a three point attempt. After the in air collision, Hardaway took a while to get up and while he did return to the game for six minutes, he was definitely not himself. Evan Smotrycz led the Wolverines in scoring with 16 while Lazabian Jackson finished with 23 for Pine Bluff (making all 3 FT's on the Hardaway foul).
#14 Wisconsin Needs Late Help to beat UW-Milwaukee
(Jim Polzin/Wisconsin State Journal)
After being named a pre-season All-American by a number of pundits, Wisconsin PG Jordan Taylor's senior year has been marred by a major shooting slump. Still, Taylor's clutch shooting was the dagger in the heart of the Milwaukee Panthers comeback attempt. The Badgers won the game 60-54 after nearly blowing a 17 point second half lead. Taylor scored 14 while center Jared Berggren and wing Ryan Evans had 17 and 16 respectively. Bo Ryan's bunch is now 9-2 and should have another couple wins heading into Big 10 conference play.
Kansas Freshman Ben McLemore Arrested After Failing to Appear in Court
(J. Brady McCullough/Kansas City Star)
The Jayhawks got some bad news earlier this season when the star of their recruiting class, wing Ben McLemore, was declared academically ineligible to play this season. After being arrested for failing to appear in court after being cited for possession of alcohol on December 6, McLemore kept the bad news rolling. He has not been allowed to practice with the team, but I am sure Bill Self and the Kansas staff were well aware of McLemore's circumstance. This definitely looks bad on him and on the Jayhawks in general. McLemore will be able to practice next semester, but be assured that he will be watched closely. He is definitely allowed to make mistakes, like any college kid should, but the real test is learning from them.
Texas' Brown/Freshmen Shine in Dismantling of Nicholls State
J'Covan Brown went for a cool 23 points as the freshman laden Longhorns smashed Nicholls State 93-40. Three freshmen scored in double figures off the bench, led by an 18 and 12 performance from forward Jaylen Bond. Myck Kabongo played distributor with 8 assists as Texas moved to 8-2. Texas, expected to be a team that struggled on the interior, had a 50-23 advantage on the glass. Texas has some tough upcoming tests, with a December 17 game against Temple, than hosting #5 North Carolina on December 21.
Minnesota Making the Most of life without Mbakwe
(Amelia Rayno/Star Tribune)
Minnesota was won all 5 games since the loss to Dayton that also marked star forward Trevor Mbakwe being lost for the season with a torn ACL. They moved to 11-1 after a 76-56 win over Central Michigan. Despite Central Michigan having star power in the form of sophomore Trey Zeigler, who finished with 19 points, Minnesota has remained a collective with only one double figure scorer on the season besides the now injured Mbakwe.
That player, guard and junior college transfer Julian Welch, scored 15 points on the game and has assumed a leadership role. Coach Tubby Smith seems to have done a great job rallying the troops after losing his star and the Golden Gophers should enter Big 10 play with a fantastic non-conference record. Minnesota is just one of many teams making the Big 10 look incredibly strong as a conference this season.
Bernie Fine Accusers Sue Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim For Defamation
(Web Staff/Hudson Valley YNN)
Former Syracuse ball boys Bobby Davis and Michael Lang have decided to sue coach Jim Boeheim for public defamation. Davis and Lang both claimed that than Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine had sexually abused them on numerous occasions. When the allegations were brought to light, Boeheim accused both of being liars who had ulterior motives.
He has since apologized for his statement, but their Attorney Gloria Allred claims that Boeheim ignored "red flags" of Fine's behavior. Fine was fired as the allegations were backed up with possible evidence in the form of a 2002 phone call from his wife to one of the victims. Boeheim, who is still the head coach of the now #1 Syracuse Orangemen, has not commented on the suit and has given no indication of wrong doing.
Until we have more evidence of Boeheim's role, it is very difficult to see if he was indeed knowledgable of Fine's actions. Still, this case has been incredibly disturbing, definitely making you feel awful for the victims and more than likely a huge distraction for Syracuse, even if they have yet to show it. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to praise Boeheim's ability as a coach with these allegations being present, that is for certain.
That is today's NCAA Daily, I will hit everyone up with more of college basketballs latest news tomorrow.