Monday, February 28, 2011

Roy Williams Tar Heels Streaking Towards March Madness

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Coming into the season, with heralded freshman Harrison Barnes, the North Carolina Tar Heels (22-6, 12-2) were hit with the No. 9 preseason ranking.

Two games in, frosh Barnes started to hear mumbles over uncertainty after going 0-12 from the field against Minnesota, and followed up with a 4-12 shooting performance against Vandy.

Many suspected this Tar Heels squad to turn in another effort similar to a season before where they missed on the big dance.

That notion was soon threw out and North Carolina is now in position to win the ACC regular season title after Virginia Tech defeated Duke and the 'Heels took care of business against Maryland 87-76.

If won, North Carolina would have four of the last five ACC regular season championships.

"I've just preached the whole year, let's just try to do everything we can do to get better," said head coach Roy Williams.

It's time to give credit where credit is due. Coach Williams has turned this young North Carolina team into a contender mid-season when some much turmoil surrounded the program.

Earlier this season, if I would have told some North Carolina would be tied with the Duke Blue Devils (26-3, 12-2) to potentially win the ACC regular season title they wouldn't buy it. But, North Carolina has done a good job of proving its doubters wrong.

Every since Kendall Marshall took over the duties in the backcourt, North Carolina has been on a roll losing one game on the road to rival Duke.

"We have a chance to win the ACC's," Marshall said after a good win against Maryland. "We've got to take it one game at a time. I think we did a good job today coming out playing."

The finishing push might be the most difficult in the conference, however. North Carolina will travel to take on the Florida State Seminoles (20-8, 10-4), who will be without their superstar Chris Singleton.

Three days later, the 'Heels will return home to take on Duke for a possible first-place showdown in one of the best rivalries in college basketball.

Coach Williams said that he likes his players to have big goals and dreams but the only way to accomplish them is stay extremely focused. But in the words of freshman guard Marshall, the 'Heels have to take it "one game at a time."

If the 'Heels hope to win the ACC title many things have to go right in the last two games.

With a lot of size in the frontcourt with both Tyler Zeller and John Henson, North Carolina is the number one rebounding team in the nation.

"That's a pretty good combination when it's seven foot and 6'10''," said Maryland head coach Gary Williams following their loss to North Carolina. "And you know, there's some NBA teams who would like to have that size up front."

Henson pulls down 9.3 boards to go along with 7.3 by Zeller. Their contribution has helped the 'Heels become the nations best rebounding team pulling in 42.6 per game. Additionally, North Carolina also pulls in a nations best 28.7 rebounds on the defensive end of the ball.
The 'Heels should take care of business at Florida State and set up a huge matchup against rivals Duke. In the first game against Duke, North Carolina led early due to it's ability to crash the boards and get east points inside.

That is something that North Carolina will certainly utilize as well as their home court advantage. The 'Heels haven't lost a game at home this whole season.

The 'Heels certainly control their own destiny. If North Carolina wants to win another ACC regular season title it's up to the 'Heels to win games.

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Rakeem Buckles Injury Hit Louisville Hard

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Following the Louisville Cardinals (22-7, 11-5) 62-59 upset win over the Pittsburgh Panthers (25-4, 13-3) in overtime, head coach Rick Pitino commented on the injury to sophomore Rakeem Buckles saying, "He has a sprained (right) knee."

"Normally, you'll be out for a week, in our case six to eight."

But, even coach Pitino didn't realize the certainty of the injury.

Buckles was later diagnosed with a torn ACL in his right knee, which means he will miss the rest of his sophomore season.

In 15 games this season, Buckles played 19.9 minutes, while averaging 7.2 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game.

Louisville will be hit hard with the loss of Buckles who usually starts for coach Pitino. 

His production on the glass, and defensive end will be hard to replace.

Buckles has shown flashes of improvement all season after having a coming out party against Cal in the tournament last season.

Buckles tallied double-digits rebounds in three games and looked great early.

The Cardinals went a 12-game stretch earlier this season with Buckles sidelined with an injury and went 7-5 without the talented sophomore.

Buckles has missed a total of 13 games this season and his presence will be missed greatly. Buckles is probably one of the more talented and improving forwards in the Big East conference.

Terrence Jennings and Gorgui Sy Dieng have both played well all season so frontcourt rotation shouldn't be a problem. Energy, rebounding and scoring in the frontcourt, however, could be an issue.

Buckles absence might open more minutes for many other frontcourt players and allow Jennings and Dieng to take a bigger role in the rebounding column, which is a strength both possesses.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Video: Cheerleader Almost Costs Game for Louisville

Posted by CoHoops Josh Dhani

It was overtime in a game between Louisville and Pittsburgh. Pitt was down five points, but almost managed to come back. Thanks to a male cheerleader on Louisville, his excessive celebration could have cost the team the game as the Pitt shot two free throws because of a technical foul from him.

Here's how it went down:

That dude will either be suspended, or kicked off the team.

Wouldn't be surprised.
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Should Tennessee and Bruce Pearl Part Ways?

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
The Tennessee Volunteers (17-11, 7-6) announced that Bruce Pearl would succeed Buzz Peterson as head coach in 2005. As a result, many recruits decided to attend other schools, and many current players transferred.

But that didn't stop Pearl from success one year in his tenure.

In his first season at Tennessee coach Pearl led the Vol's to a 22-8 record, and 12 conference victories. Additionally, Pearl also added to his success by acquiring one of the best recruiting classes led by Wayne Chism.

Coach Pearl continues to have success at Tennessee as well as picking up marquee accomplishments on the way.

Coach Pearl has been named the Adolph Rupp National Coach of the Year in 2008 and is a two-time SEC Coach of the Year.

But along with bringing major accomplishments and wins, coach Pearl has brought recruiting and unethical violations to the Tennessee athletic program.

Pearl had previously been suspended eight SEC conference games for violating NCAA rules and misleading investigators.

The NCAA's punishment has yet to be felt by Pearl and despite his optimism regarding his job security, there is a possibility that you won't see him pacing the Vol's sideline too much longer.

Coach Pearl and his assistants were cited for 96 impermissible telephone calls to perspective student-athletes, as well as a visit to talk to 2012 prospect Jordan Adams of Oak Hill Academy.

Additionally, the NCAA believes Pearl knowingly violated NCAA rules by inviting a prospective student-athlete to a unofficial visit/barbecue at his home.

The Vol's have did their part in issuing Pearl to sit eight SEC conference games due to his recruiting violations, but the big question everyone wants to know is "is that enough?"

Just this week, the NCAA decided that the Connecticut Huskies head coach Jim Calhoun would be suspended three Big East conference games for recruiting violations and failing to create an atmosphere of compliance within the program.

The two coaches have one similar comparison, which is recruiting violations. However, coach Calhoun was never cited for being untruthful to the investigators.

But earlier this year, AD (Athletic Director) Mike Hamilton was noted as saying, "It's our intention to keep him." He followed by saying, "Unless there's something out there we're unaware of."

Coach Pearl has rallied this Tennessee program and improved them every year drastically. Under Pearl Tennessee reached their first Elite Eight in school history along with a 143-57 record.

If there is one thing that is going to keep Pearl around it's his ability to win basketball games. Pearl is known for knocking off top-ranked teams. During his tenure at Tennessee the Vol's have defeated 20 Top 25 ranked opponents along with five in the top-five and two No. 1's.

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Christ Wright Suffers Broken Hand in Hoyas Loss

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Despite dropping a game to the Cincinnati Bearcats (22-6, 9-6) on Wednesday night 58-46, the Georgetown Hoyas (21-7, 10-6) will have to deal with a even bigger loss.

During the game, their 6'1'' point guard Chris Wright was diagnosed with a broken hand after a scuffle early in the second half against the Bearcats.

Wright led the Hoyas in assist with 5.5 per game and was the second leading scorer, scoring around 13 per game.

Wright is a huge asset to the ninth-ranked Hoyas. Wright participated in every game this season for Georgetown averaging 33 minutes per game.

The bright spot of the injury is that it's on the non-shooting hand of Wright.

He did try to come back in the game during the second half but immediately after throwing a pass he walked off the court in pain.

Wright reportedly had surgery on his left hand and should be able to return before the season ends.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jim Calhoun Suspended Three Big East Games

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Before the season, Jim Calhoun knew his recruiting violations had surfaced regarding the recruitment of former guard Nate Miles and would land him in serious trouble with the NCAA.

Coach Calhoun reportedly had too much contact with Miles, exceeding the amount of calls and text imposed by the NCAA.

Not to mention, a former student-manager reportedly paid for many expenses regarding the commitment of Miles.

Instead of banning the UConn Huskies (20-6, 8-6) from the NCAA tournament, like you witness the committee do the USC, the NCAA has decided to suspend Calhoun for three Big East conference games next season.

The Huskies also were deducted scholarships for the next three seasons and placed on a three-year probation period.

The committee also placed a two-year show-cause penalty on former assistant Beau Archibald, who wasn't mentioned in the reports earlier.

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Underrated St. Johns Developing Into Big East Contender

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Before the season, the St. John's Red Storm (17-9, 9-5) acquired coach Steve Lavin to lead 10 seniors to possible success in their final season.

Coach Lavin was quoted saying their goal heading into the season was to make the NCAA tournament and send their seniors out on a high note.

The Big East coaches voted St. John's as the sixth best team in the Big East during the preseason and the Johnnies also received one first-place vote.

So, to say this St. John's team came out of nowhere is ludicrous. But, the fact that they have overachieved is something that has brought smiles around the St. John's athletic program and in New York.

"I think we are ahead of schedule in terms of the high level of basketball that we have played in six of the last seven games," said coach Lavin.

St. John's has recently received it's first ranking (No. 23 AP, No. 25 ESPN/USA Today Poll) on the season and the first since the 2000 season.

"It is empirical evidence that their hard word is paying off," said coach Lavin. "They have an outstanding work ethic, focus and resolve to finish their careers on a high note."

This St. Johns team has defeated five ranked teams this season, all of which were ranked inside the top-15 in both polls.

More impressively, the Johnnies defeated Duke for the first time since 01-02 and should be NCAA tournament bound with the impressive resume put together this year by St. John's.

The Johnnies went on an unbearable stretch of eight games where their opponents were all ranked in the polls.

"We played eight consecutive games against ranked teams, made three trips to the West Coast," said Lavin. "It takes pressure, heat and time to make a diamond. It shows how together this group is."

St. John's finishes the stretch with wins over three ranked teams but more disappointing, five losses. Since then, the Johnnies have been 5-1 picking up wins over UConn and Pitt.

Right now, the Johnnies are at 9-5 in the Big East conference, which has been regarded as the best conference in basketball many times. Not to mention, being tied for forth and only three games back from overtaking first place in the conference.

The eyeball test doesn't do much justice for St. John's. The Johnnies may not post eye-popping statistics like it's counterparts but St. John's brings much more athleticism, and leadership, which makes them the most underrated tournament contender in America.

Granted, St. John's has a 4-6 road record but all four wins have come against Big East teams on the road; and on the road in the Big East are tough for anybody.

But what makes them tougher than their record indicates is their versatility and depth. It's not just one player dominating on this team; it's everybody.

Dwight Hardy has played like a Big East Player of the Year, and averages a team-high 17.2 points per game. But, D.J. Kennedy leads the team in rebounds with 5.5 and Malik Boothe leads St. Johns in assist with three per outing.

Three players score in double figures for St. Johns as well as six pulling down at least two boards per game.

This St. Johns team is very dangerous because of their ten seniors along with their depth and athletic ability.

"My hope was to, by March, have a dangerous, opportunistic team that could beat anybody in the country, that didn't bring an A game or if they overlooked us" said Lavin. "It appears we hit that in late January and February."

St. John's No. 1 ranked SOS has the Johnnies thinking NCAA tournament. St. John's hasn't made the tournament in 10 years but this season it's certainly obtainable.

St. Johns has quality wins over the Georgetown Hoyas, Notre Dame Irish, Duke Blue Devils, UConn Huskies, and Pittsburgh Panthers.

With so much talent, experience and leadership, St. Johns will certainly contend for a title in March. The Johnnies have a Big East POY contender in Hardy, Justin Brownlee who continues to improve game-by-game and Kennedy who can do it all.

The overall experience from the seniors has allowed the Johnnies to pull away late during a few games this season. St. Johns complete shocked the world with a 15-point win over the defending champs and a win over Pitt.

The Johnnies will take on DePaul at home this Wednesday (Feb 23) before traveling to Villanova for their Big East showdown on Saturday (Feb 26).

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Still Plenty to Prove for Young Tar Heels

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell

The North Carolina Tar Heels (19-6, 9-2) have went from NCAA laughing stock to potential contenders in the tournament.

Coach Roy Williams made a decision to start freshman Kendall Marshall in the backcourt opposed to Larry Drew II, which has lead the 'Heels to a 7-1 record with Marshall as the starter.

Highly-touted freshman Harrison Barnes has resurfaced as one of the top newcomers in the game. Barnes is averaging 17.5 points and 5.7 rebounds with Marshall as the starter.

The 'Heels have moved from un-ranked to continue to claw at the top 25 polls.

Will this be good enough to beat the Ohio State's, Texas', Kansas' and many other College Basketball powerhouses?

This is the question looming as the season progresses for North Carolina.

The 'Heels have faced formidable competition all season has shown the ability to compete with the best. North Carolina played both Duke, and Texas and dropped both games by a combined total of eight points. Minded, both are top five teams in the polls.

North Carolina just finished their tough stretch of 4-games in 10 days, 3-1 with the only loss coming at Duke. "Everyone has talked so much about that four game stretch [in 10 days.]," said coach Williams following their win against Wake Forest.

"I believe out guys  thought that was a mountain they could not climb because we were so happy about trying to climb that mountain that we forgot to have our intelligence and intensity level as much as we needed it tonight."

The way North Carolina has played thus far in ACC play, their isn't a reason to believe the 'Heels cannot compete against the elite in the NCAA tournament.

North Carolina has one of the best coaches in the game, along with an improving roster that gets better by the game, and an improving superstar in Tyler Zeller.

Their core of players featuring Barnes, Zeller, Marshall and John Henson should take them along way in the tournament.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Cleveland State's Cole on Path to Stardom

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Coming out of high school, Norris Cole, a 5'11'' point guard, at the time, didn't receive many looks from major colleges.

Robert Morris gave him a look, but it seemed as if the Cleveland State Vikings (22-5, 11-4) were the only college serious about getting Cole in a uniform.

As a freshman, Cole didn't see the court as much averaging 14.4 minutes, while scoring 4.9 points, and 1.4 rebounds playing behind Cedric Jackson and Joe Davis.

In both his sophomore and junior seasons, many saw progression in Cole and nabbed him as one of the best in the Horizon League.

Playing in his final season, Cole has exceeded many expectations.

Cole has surpassed many legends on the all-time scoring list pouring in 1,768 points, which ranks fifth all-time in school history.

He is also 489 points away from overtaking Ken McFadden as the all-time leading scorer. His most recent 41-point, 20 rebound, nine assist game against Youngstown State has not only catapulted his name in the national media, but also landed him in elite company.

Cole was mentioned as a finalist for the Bob Cousy award that is given to College Basketball's top point guard.

"He's a special kid, and it doesn't faze him," said Vikings head coach Gary Waters. "I never worry about him getting a big head, he just comes out and plays."

Cole is definitely one of the top players in the nation. It's not many players that will grab 20 rebounds at 6'2'', not to mention, having 21 points, and 10 rebounds in the first half.

When asked about his performance Cole responded, "The basket just feels big," he said. "You don't get tired. The game just slows down to you."

"It makes the team more comfortable, because they are looking to you for that energy."

Cole is the second player in the last 15 years to accumulate at least 40 points and 20 rebounds, joining former Oklahoma Sooners star Blake Griffin.

Despite grasping such a rare accomplishment, Cole wasn't focused on his stats against Youngstown State. "I don't really play the stats when I'm out there playing," said Cole. "After the game I heard I needed one more (assist), but I'm more happy we got the win."

Cole has been very consistent scoring in double figures 33 straight games. Not to mention, leading the Vikings to another 20-win season as a starter.

During his sophomore season at Cleveland State, Cole lead the Vikings to an upset-win over a tough Wake Forest team that loss just seven games on the season.

Cole finished with 22 points and four assist, while playing a major role on the defensive end, helping hold Jeff Teague and L.D Williams to just 15 points, and eight turnovers combined.

This year's team is looking for that same energy headed into March. With the way Cole is playing right now, there shouldn't be anything preventing Cleveland State from receiving an at-large bid.

The Vikings are second in the Horizon League, just a half of game back from Valparaiso. Both teams have tough challenges in Wright State, and Milwaukee next.

Taking care of business during the final stretch of games should be the No. 1 priority for the Vikings, in hopes to receive a tournament bid.

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Florida State's Tournament Hopes Dealt a Huge Blow

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
In a conference starved of stars, the Florida State Seminoles (18-7, 8-3) forward Chris Singleton stuck out from the obvious superstars at Duke and North Carolina.

Singleton does almost everything you could want from a forward at the college level.

He gets into the passing lanes averaging 2.1 steals a game, while adding 1.6 blocks. This alone shows you how much of a threat he is on the defensive side of the ball.

Singleton also can create scoring opportunities for himself pacing Florida State with 13.8 points per game, while adding 7.1 rebounds.

For an offense that creates offense from it's defense, Singleton was the constant on the offensive side of the ball.

Now, Singleton looks to be sidelined for the rest of the season with a right foot fracture sustained in a win over the Virginia Cavaliers.

Without Singleton, the Seminoles are without their leading scorer, rebounder and defensive leader. There is no way to sugarcoat this injury; Florida State is a different team with Singleton sidelined.

As a team Florida State scores 69 points per game (156th in the nation), and shoots 43 percent (207th in the nation) from the field on the season.

However, despite the shaky offense, Florida State's success is built upon it's talented defense. The Seminoles rank second in the ACC in scoring defense holding teams to 61.6 points per game.

Florida State has the best field goal percentage defense in the ACC holding opponents to 35 percent from the field, and 30 percent from three.

The 'Noles leads the ACC in block shots (6.0 per game), and comes second in steals (8.8 per outing).

The Seminoles are on the outside looking in as far as a tournament bid goes. That notion is solidified especially with Singleton sidelined, but it's certainly not out of the picture.

Florida State has a favorable schedule with a huge match-up against North Carolina that could helps it's tournament resume.

A well-balanced offensive team could use an assertive Darwin Davis, who is best known for his performance in the upset of No. 1 Duke this season.

With an assertive Davis, and the utilization of the depth of the 'Noles, Florida State could play its way into a NCAA tournament bid.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oladipo's 13 Not Enough as IU Falls to Michigan, 73-69

Posted by CoHoops Josh Dhani
The Indiana Hoosiers are on a losing-streak that just can't end right now. They started out the season nicely. What was it? 6-0? Something along those lines. Since then, they haven't been doing good as much, now at a 12-14 record as they fell to the Michigan Wolverines last night, 73-69.

"This is one of the hardest playing teams that I've ever coached, but this is not a team that has any opportunity to back away from having a combative mindset when they practice - a combative temperament," said IU head coach Tom Crean. "It's more than competitive, and when we've done that and taken it into games, we've done very well. What you saw in the comeback was a combative team. We got calls and we were aggressive."

Christian Watford, who was returning from injury, played well with 14 points. But it was Victor Oladipo who led the team, producing 13 points and six rebounds. However, it just wasn't enough. Verdell Jones III had twelve points and Jordan Hulls had ten while Tom Pritchard had four points and seven rebounds.

With IU down, Watford hit a late show to cut the lead to 70-67. But with eight seconds left, Darius Morris sealed the victory after hitting two free throws. Michigan really couldn't hit a free throw this game, but they got them in when it counted.

IU will face Northwestern next on Saturday.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kendall Marshall Has North Carolina on the Right Track

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Earlier this season, all the talk surrounding the North Carolina Tar Heels (17-5, 7-1) was Harrison Barnes inability to live up to his AP Pre-Season All-American tag.

The lack of solid point guard play didn't aid the Tar Heels well knocking them out the top 25 rather earlier than expected.

Nonetheless, the 'Heels have returned to both polls and are re-emerging as a basketball power.

Before the season started, Larry Drew II was the starter for North Carolina with Kendall Marshall playing the backup role.

After the 'Heels loss to Georgia Tech, coach Roy Williams inserted Marshall in the starting lineup and since then the 'Heels haven't loss anything besides their backup Drew II.

Drew II opted to transfer after losing his starting role to Marshall.

Despite losing a formidable guard, Marshall has North Carolina fans saying, "Drew who?"

As a starter, Marshall has averaged 6.2 points and 6.6 assist per game, including a 16 assist effort in the 'Heels most recent win over Florida State.

"I saw it on the board--I mean, they said freshman assist record so I thought that was big for him confidence-wise," said John Henson on Marshall's freshman record for assist.

"It's a good feeling," said Marshall. "Harrison told me that after the game. He looked up at the scoreboard and looked at me and told me I just set the record," said Marshall about knowing about his record setting performance.

His stats do not do him any justice. His progression since joining the starting lineup has allowed North Carolina to be a lot more productive.

Barnes has seen his stats skyrocket with Marshall as the starter averaging 18.8 points, and 6.2 rebounds on 59 percent shooting.

Henson has averaged 13.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks per game. The list could go on.

Marshall stepped up big time for the 'Heels. His contributions and leadership is the main reason this North Carolina team is able to breath fresh air again.

It was just last month when the 'Heels were blew away by 20 on the road against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (10-12, 3-6). Now the 'Heels have the chance to overtake Duke as the No. 1 team in the ACC conference on Wednesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The 'Heels are back on track and frosh Barnes seems to be energized with the emergence of Marshall. If one thing is worth noting, it's that the North Carolina Tar Heels are back!

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ashton Gibbs Sidelined for 10-14 Days

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Ashton Gibbs, the Pittsburgh Panthers (21-2, 9-1) leading scorer with 16.3 point per game, has been diagnosed with a MCL injury in his left knee.

Gibbs also adds 3.1 assist, and 2.3 rebounds. He is a very crucial piece to the Panthers success, and should have a tough time with Gibbs sidelined against formidable Big East foes.

Pitts spokesperson said wear and tear attributed to the injury.

The Big East leading Panthers will be without their leading scorer for the biggest game against the Villanova Wildcats (19-4, 7-3).

This is the first time Gibbs will miss games since his freshman season where he sat against Duquesne.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Northern Iowa loses Lucas O'Rear to Injury

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Lucas O'Rear, the Northern Iowa Panthers (18-6, 9-3) leading rebounder with 5.7 per game, will be sidelined for the rest of the season with a broken ankle.

O'Rear injured his ankle in the Panthers most recent 53-51 win over the Illinois State Redbirds.

O'Rear was a key asset to a Northern Iowa team that is currently riding an 8-game win streak in hopes to make the NCAA tournament.

He averaged 6.9 points, to add to his team high 5.7 rebounds per game.

The 6-foot-6 senior forward's basketball future is in doubt, and O'Rear is expected to have surgery Thursday.

Northern Iowa sits at number two in the Mountain West conference and their chances of making the NCAA tournament was tarnished by the injury sustained by O'Rear.

The Panthers are back in action again against the Drake Bulldogs (9-14, 4-8) on Feb 5 at 1 PM ET.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2011 NBA Draft Stock Watch: January Edition

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
January started on a miraculous note and that is exactly how it ended.

Many players have increased their draft stock tremendously, but none as much as BYU's Jimmer Fredette. Alec Burks has emerged as one of the marquee players in the nation, and has Colorado thinking about the NCAA tournament.

Jared Sullinger has continued to impress and his game is continuously evolving.

More importantly, Josh Selby couldn't have started the year off any worse than he did. Elias Harris, and Steven Gray's draft stock continues to plummet, while Marshon Brooks is on the rise.

Nonetheless, many players helped their draft stock, not many players hurt it.

Here is a look at players with rising, and falling NBA draft stocks.


Tristan Thompson - Texas (January stat line: 13.8 pts, 6.6 rebs, 2.5 blks)

Thompson's stats don't do him justice. He means so much to this Texas squad and has the physical tools to excel at the next level. During the month of January, Thompson helped Texas stop the Jayhawks 69-game win streak accumulating 12 points, six rebounds, and five blocks.

Thompson is not only physical on the glass, but has the potential to be a paint protector.

Thompson has a ton of potential and he consistently improves game-by-game. The only dark spot of his game is his inability to convert at the line. Other than that, you're looking at a potential lottery selection.

Jimmer Fredette - BYU (January stat line: 32.3 pts, 4.2 ast, 3.7 rebs)

Saying Jimmer Fredette exploded in January would be an understatement. He literally, put BYU on his back in countless games, while showcasing his scoring ability. His January stat line was more impressive, scoring wise, than any other player in the country.

Fredette posted three 40-point games during the month of January, doing so by shooting 54 percent from behind the arc.

I've seen comparisons to Duke great J.J. Redick, and Steph Curry, but I assure you, Fredette will have his own legacy and should excel at the next level.

Alec Burks - Colorado (January stat line: 20.8 pts, 8.1 rebs, 2.7 ast)

Burks, a lanky 6'6'' prospect has emerged as a potent scorer, rebounder, and leader on the court. His defense still needs work, but other than that Burks is a sure lottery selection.

This January, you might remember Burks posting 36 points on his hometown school Mizzou in a winning effort.

Burks has the ability to play on the wing, or in the backcourt as an off guard. His handles could use some improvement, but his jumper has gotten better, as well as, his court vision. I expect to see Burks start playing smart basketball and limit his turnovers.

Burks has that "p" word many scouts crave: potential, and a lot of it.

Derrick Williams - Arizona (January stat line: 21.6 pts, 8.7 rebs)

Derrick Williams could be the No. 1 draft pick come June. Williams is the most efficient player in game right now, and is still improving. During a crucial game against Washington State, Williams snagged 19 rebounds, while scoring just 17 points.

Williams has the ability to play on the wing, and his athletic ability continues to evolve under coach Sean Miller.

Williams has a ton of potential, and his solid games in January only helped his cause as a possible No. 1 pick come June.

Talor Battle - Penn State (January stat line: 19.3 pts, 3.4 ast, 3.3 rebs)

Talor Battle has proven his ability to lead. After contemplating the draft last season, Battle has improved many aspects of his game and his draft has been rising, slowly but surely.

Battle led Penn State to back-to-back victories over Michigan State, and Illinois, while putting pressure on No. 1 Ohio State.

His best game last month came against Wisconsin when Battle ended the game with 22 points, five rebounds, three assist, but more importantly, no turnovers for the just the third time this season. Battle isn't the flashy guard most teams go after, but his progression is worth noting.

Watch: Marshon Brooks, Klay Thompson, Marcus Morris, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, and Jared Sullinger


Josh Selby - Kansas (January stat line: 11.2 pts, 3.3 ast, 2.7 rebs, 3.1 TO's)

For a player that started off with a game winner, and another impressive showing at Cal, Selby has underachieved since then. Selby took around nine shots per game during January, and converted on an average of three.

It's too early to say Selby fell off because last years freshman Xavier Henry had a similar slump at the same time last season.

Either way, Selby hasn't been as effective as he should have been in January.

Fab Melo - Syracuse (January stat line: 1.8 pts, 1.8 rebs)

Fab Melo has been the most disappointing freshman in College Basketball. Melo hasn't produced a double-digit game scoring or rebounding. BYU's Jimmer Fredette matches Melo's scoring total all year in one game this season against New Mexico.

At 7-foot Melo hasn't shown any sign of the magnificent player Syracuse offered coming out of high school.

Melo has yet to transition to a fast paced game, which is killing his draft stock.

Watch: Elias Harris, and Steven Gray

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jordan Hamilton and Texas Quieting Critics

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
They say the non-conference games are beneficial to the preparation of a team headed into conference play. Obviously, coach Rick Barnes got the memo, and his players have responded well.

After playing the toughest non-conference schedule in the Big 12, the Texas Longhorns (19-3, 7-0) have jumped out to a perfect 7-0 conference record, which is their best start in school history.

Before the season, no coaches thought the Longhorns were going to capture the Big 12 title after losing Damion James, Dexter Pittman, and Avery Bradley to the NBA draft.

Especially, witnessing the Longhorns meltdown mid-season, a year before, after being placed in the National Championship talks.

No question, this year's Texas squad has been more impressive than the 17-0 Longhorns from a year ago.

"We were four games in, and I told the team, we're just getting started," said coach Barnes. "I talked all year long about the rhythm of our team, our routine, and not only what we do in practice, it's everything we do, and I really give my guys credit for that."

The Longhorns have been very impressive on both ends of the floor. Four Longhorns average double figure scoring led by Jordan Hamilton, who scores 19 points per game. As a team, Texas scores 76.5 points per game, while shooting 37 percent from deep.

Things only get better on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Barnes has done a great job of utilizing his team's athletic ability on the defensive end.

The Longhorns have held teams to an average of 60 points per game.

Texas is one of the most disciplined teams on the glass. When a shot goes up, all players are crashing the boards.

Hamilton and freshman Tristian Thompson both average a team high 7.5 rebounds per game.

As a team, the Longhorns are snatching down 41.4 a game, 27.9 coming on the defensive glass. Texas is able to track down so many rebounds, due to its terrific defense.

The Longhorns smother you on defense, not allowing you to get a clean look at the basket. The Longhorns are holding teams to 36 percent from the field and 27 percent from downtown.

Texas has shown flashes of brilliance in many ways this season. Their play has them as the latest contender to make the Final Four and compete for the National Championship.

"I've been doing this 24 years as an assistant coach and head coach, and I haven't seen many teams as good as Texas" said Texas A&M's head coach Mark Turgeon. "Playing at that level they're playing at, I thought they were fantastic."

Texas understands who their stars are and utilizes their abilities. Hamilton, their sophomore leader, has exceeded expectations and has become the Longhorns No. 1 threat on offense.

Hamilton shoots 47 percent from the field, and 42 percent from the three-point line, while taking around 14 shots per game.

His improvement, and continuous progression is one reason Texas can be labeled contenders. Hamilton current stat line looks something like this: 19 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assist per game.

Running mate, and possibly the x-factor for Texas, Thompson has continued to impress and his name dips in-and-out NBA draft conversations.

Thompson has shot an impressive 53 percent from the field during conference play, and is certainly the gas that fueled the Longhorns over previous Big 12 champ Kansas.

Thompson averages 12.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks. His intensity in the frontcourt has helped Texas stay atop of the College Basketball polls. The Longhorns are currently listed as the No. 3 ranked team in the nation after starting the season out No. 25.

Freshman guard Cory Joseph has been a great contributor, as is, senior Gary Johnson, J'Covan Brown, and Dogus Balbay.

The pressure is certainly on Texas now as the conference race starts to speed up, and teams are starting to really take notice. The Longhorns have the chance to finish undefeated in the Big 12 after winning against Mizzou, Texas A&M, and Kansas.

They've proven they can win on the road, and protect their home court. The Longhorns are for real this year, and could pose a huge threat come March.

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