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NCAA Daily Links

Mon, 11/21/2011 - 8:42pm

November 21, 2011

Hello NCAA Basketball fans! The college basketball season is off to a furious start. Lets see what is in the news with the Monday NCAA Daily:

Shabazz Napier Posts Monster Triple Double
(Jeff Goodman/CBSSports.com)

Shabazz NapierShabazz NapierKemba Walker was seen as the heart and soul of last year’s UConn NCAA Championship team. Many wondered how the team would replace Walker, thinking it would come from the increased scoring of Jeremy Lamb, an improved Alex Oriakhi and newcomer Andre Drummond. So far, Walker’s replacement, Shabazz Napier, has been playing at a level nobody expected, almost reminiscent of Walker himself.

Yesterday, Napier posted the ninth triple double in UConn history, finishing with 22 points (8-14 FG, 3-5 3PT), 12 rebounds and 13 assists with only 1 TO. Napier has averaged 18 ppg, 6.2 apg and 6 rpg through UConn’s first 4 games. The 6 foot 170 pound Napier said a player he watched this summer was Pittsburgh’s star guard Ashton Gibbs. He claims that, "One thing he does so well is get everyone involved and also know when to score." So far, Napier’s studying of Gibbs seems to be paying off big time, which is great news for those who were worried about the loss of Kemba Walker.

Maui Invitational Starts Today
(Tom Keegan/KUSports.com)

Every year, the Maui Invitational has an impressive stable of teams. This years field is absolutely stacked. There are 5 schools that have won NCAA Championship’s in Duke, Georgetown, Michigan, Kansas and UCLA. A tough Memphis squad, Tennessee and host school DII Chaminade University round out the field.

The action is underway, with the Memphis Tigers playing the Michigan Wolverines as I type. Than it will be Tennessee/Duke, Kansas/Georgetown and UCLA/Chaminade in that order. 12 of Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s record 903 wins have come in the Maui Invitational, where he has yet to lose a game.

Duke more than likely should be the favorite to win the title this year, but they will have their hands full with this field full of talented teams. Last year, UConn won Maui as a definite underdog, beating Kentucky in the Final. North Carolina is not in the field this year, but both their 2005 and 2009 championship teams were winners of this tournament. Maui is consistently action packed and their will be a number of high profile future NBA prospects playing in the upcoming days.

Reeves Nelson Misses Team Flight to Hawaii
(Ben Bolch/LA Times)

UCLA forward Reeves Nelson has seemed to be in the news for all of the wrong reasons lately. Less than a week after being suspended for a poor attitude and for being late to a team meeting, Nelson missed the team flight to Hawaii. Nelson ended up taking a later flight, but as coach Ben Howland put it, “He understands it doesn’t look good.”

With UCLA losing their first two games by double digits, to mid-majors at home, it should be expected that their team try to do everything possible to stay cohesive. Reeves Nelson is expected to be the Bruins go-to player as their leading returning scorer and rebound leader, but he may be running out of chances. They get tourney host Chaminade in the first round.

While some may think this might add to UCLA’s confidence with a win, just remember that Chaminade has a history of upsets. Let’s hope for UCLA’s sake they do not become another victim of the DII giant killers.

Jared Cunningham a Star of the Early Season
(Rob Dauster//NBCSports)

Oregon State’s head coach Craig Robinson was thought to be on the hot seat after having a sub par past two seasons. So far, behind the leadership of junior guard Jared Cunningham, his job security looks intact. The OSU Beavers sit atop the current RPI rankings and are 4-0 after their 100-95 upset win over Texas in OT.

Jared Cunningham had 37 points in the game versus Texas, coming only a few days after putting u[ 35 on Hofstra. He is averaging 26 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 2.3 spg through the seasons first 4 games. Cunningham also was an All Pac-10 2nd Team performer as well as making the conferences All-Defensive team as a sophomore (breaking Gary Payton’s OSU sophomore steals record in the process).

The 6’4 Cunningham is a big time athlete and is looking like an early season candidate for Pac-12 POY. Not to mention, OSU may be a threat in the Pac-12 come conference play.

Jabari Brown Reportedly Leaving Oregon
(Oregonian Sports/oregonlive.com)

While things are looking good in Corvallis with the Beavers, fans in Eugene learned some discouraging news regarding prized freshman Jabari Brown. Apparently, Brown is set to leave the team after having only played 2 games. Brown started both, playing 25 mpg and averaging 6 ppg. However, he was having some problems with turnovers (5.5 TO) and also was not shooting particularly well.

Jabari was the first McDonald’s All-American at U of O since Michael Dunigan, and a huge recruit for my alma mater U of O. He appeared to be fitting in quite well and was expected to provide a definite scoring presence and a sweet outside stroke. Dana Altman was reported to have been trying to convince Brown to stay, but there is no news of his return to the team thus far.

Brown had missed the last two days of practice before not suiting up in the Ducks weekend victory over Southeast Missouri State. The Ducks are 2-1, with their only loss coming in a season opener at Vanderbilt. Oregon was expected to be a sleeper in the Pac-12, many seeing Brown as playing a major role. I still would not count the Ducks out, and I am not totally counting out the possibility of Brown coming back.

As far as Jabari Brown’s close friend and Duck recruit Dominic Artis, Dave Telep of ESPN.com is reporting that Artis is still committed to play for the Ducks regardless of Brown’s status.

Presbyterian Upsets #20 Cincinnati, 56-54
(AP/USAToday.com)

Khalid Mutakkabir (has to be in contention for name of the year) hit a go ahead triple with 7.6 seconds left as Presbyterian mounted an epic comeback to topple the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Blue Hose (yes, that is really their nickname) were down 15 points midway through the second half before Mutakkabir and team started hitting shot after shot to get back in the game. Mutakkabir tied a career high with 25 points as Presbyterian moved to 3-2 on the season.

Cincinnati Bearcats coach Mick Cronin saw this as foreshadowing from an earlier game against Jacksonville St. The Bearcats were up by 27 before giving up a 15-1 run, having the lead cut to 10 before pulling out a 73-59 victory. Presbyterian went on a 24-7 run to complete their comeback, with the Blue Hose drowning the hopes of the Bearcats with their last second three.

Two Former Bruins Leading UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
(Patrick Goggin/UNLVRebelYell.com)

Both Chace Stanback and Mike Moser had very short tenures with the UCLA basketball program, but have been re-born at UNLV. Both long 6’8, athletic forwards have been the catalyst to UNLV’s 4-0 start, which saw the Rebels score over 90 points in their last two games. Stanback, a senior, has been a two time 3rd Team All-Mountain West selection and has started off the year averaging 14 ppg and 6 rpg.

Mike Moser, who barely played in his first season at UCLA, has flourished on the Runnin’ Rebels. The early season NCAA leading rebounder at 14.3 rpg, Moser has also averaged 16.5 ppg, 3.8 apg, 3.8 spg and a block per contest as well. Moser is looking like the MWC’s version of Gerald Wallace and making UNLV look like a probable NCAA Tournament team.

Former UCLA Great Walt Hazzard Passes Away at 69
(Chris Foster/LA Times/Nashua Telegraph)

In some sad news, one of the stars of John Wooden’s coaching days at UCLA, Walt Hazzard, passed away this weekend. Hazzard was the catalyst for Wooden’s first ever NCAA Championship team as the Bruins went 30-0 in 1964. Many think that had Hazzard never lead the Bruins to a championship, players such as Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) may have not decided to go to UCLA.

Hazzard, originally from Philadelphia, attended Overbrook HS, the same school that produced the legendary Wilt Chamberlain. The 6’2 Hazzard lead his HS team to an 89-3 record over his career there, finally deciding to play for legendary coach John Wooden at UCLA. Hazzard lead the Bruins to their first Final Four appearance in 1962, earned All-American honors in 1963 and was an All-American once more as he lead them to a championship as a senior.

Walt went on to play 10 seasons in the NBA, three with the LA Lakers and later even went on to coach UCLA from 1984-88. Hazzard was known for his amazing ball handling ability and coach Wooden once said, “I never had a better man on the fastbreak than Walt Hazzard.” Hazzard was also roommates in college with Tennis legend Arthur Ashe. He was serving as a special consultant to the Lakers at the time of his death. Thoughts and condolences to Walt Hazzard’s friends and family, a sad loss for the basketball community.

St. Louis Stuns Washington
(Tom Timmermann/STLToday.com)

After finishing 12-19 last year, I did not expect to hear much noise from Rick Majerus and the St. Louis Billikens. After cruising past a strong Washington team 77-64, building as much as a 29 point lead early in the second half, it got me to adjust my way of thinking. Rugged forward and defensive presence Brain Conklin, nicknamed the “Oregon Destroyer” based on his roots in Eugene, put up a career high 25 points to lead the charge. The senior also claims this to be the Billikens biggest win in his 4 years at the school.

St. Louis held the Huskies to only 4 triples (they were averaging 9) and forced a number of TO’s to force the game in their favor. Terrence Ross finished with 17 and Tony Wroten finished with 14 in the loss. St. Louis PG Kwamain Mitchell scored 4 3’s of his own and finished with 18 points, while Aussie big man and sophomore Rob Loe had 8 points in 17 minutes, including a couple triples of his own. Rick Majerus never seems to be a coach one should count out and he has a scrappy bunch in his A-10 underdog Billikens this season.

UNC Scores Triple Figures in MVS Win
(Andrew Carter/McClatchy Newspapers/Boston Herald)

North Carolina may not have been on their “A” game, but they still notched a 101-75 victory over Mississippi Valley St. While the Heels shot a decent percentage from the field, they struggled from 3 (5-19, 26.3%) and were also off from the charity stripe (16-31, 52.6%). They also had a pretty high number of mistakes, with 15 TO’s, though they were able to force 21. Harrison Barnes and John Henson both had 18 to lead 6 double figure scorers for the #1 Tar Heels.

Tide Roll to Victory in Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic
(CourierPress.com)

The Alabama Crimson Tide won claimed the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic title winning 65-56 over Purdue. Lead by sophomore guard Trevor Releford’s 20 points, the #15 Tide moved to 5-0 on the season for the first time since 2006. The Tide put together a 19-4 run on the Boilermakers midway through the second half to claim the win. Tony Mitchell finished with 14 and 10 while JaMychal Green and freshman Levi Randolph also scored 14 and 12 respectively. Robbie Hummel paced Purdue with 17, though the team only shot 36% for the game.

Bobby Knight, Eddie Sutton Lead College Hoops Hall-of-Fame Inductees
(Dave Skretta/Associated Press)

The National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame had eight inductees on Sunday night, lead by coaching greats Bobby Knight and Eddie Sutton. Knight was the former NCAA leader in All-Time victories before being surpassed by pupil Mike Krzyzewski and won 3 NCAA Championships as the coach of Indiana University. Eddie Sutton, well known as a player and coach for Oklahoma State, also was the first coach ever to lead four different schools to the NCAA Tournament (Creighton, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma State).

The HOF class was rounded out by Virginia center and three time Naismith Award Winner Ralph Sampson, Michigan’s Cazzie Russell, North Carolina’s James Worthy, St. John’s forward Chris Mullin, TV Pioneer Eddie Einhorn and Joe Vancisin, long time executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). The Sunday night ceremony kicked off a three-day college basketball celebration, which includes the championship rounds of the CBE Classic.

That concludes today’s NCAA Daily, will be back with more tomorrow!

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