Monday, March 28, 2011

Tyler Honeycutt Declares for the Draft

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Tyler Honeycutt has reached a final verdict, he will forgo his junior season at UCLA and enter his name in the 2011 NBA draft.

Honeycutt averaged 12.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks during his sophomore season at UCLA.

Honeycutt's most memorable game came against Kansas, where he scored 33-points and the game-tying three with less than 10 seconds left to play.

Honeycutt was a first-team All Pac-10 selection and has an all-around game that still needs improvement.

He could have used another year of college, especially with the Wear twins eligible and a returning core of great players.

Honeycutt's impressive career at UCLA comes to an end. Honeycutt was the only freshman to lead the Bruins in rebounding and was a Pac-10 All-Freshman team selection.

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Butler Doesn't Want to be 'Runner-ups' Again

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
To some, the most important game in history for the Butler Bulldogs (27-9, 13-5) came last year against Duke, in their first ever National Championship.

To some, Butler is still considered a Cinderella mid-major team.

With their, young, but gifted head coach Brad Stevens, Butler made their second-straight Final Four with an OT thriller over No.2 seeded Florida.

The first mid-major to do so since UNLV did it in '90 and '91.

That same UNLV squad won the National Championship out of its two tries. Butler is trying to achieve the same feat.

Just after Butler punched it's ticket to the Final Four, they returned from New Orleans only to receive a standing ovation from their home fans.

Junior guard Ronald Nored was the most outspoken player saying, "I told somebody today that this year, we're going to get the real call from President Obama and not the runner-up call," which really got the crowd going.

Nored, was a key asset to last seasons team that just fell short of a National title. He did lose his starting position this season, but hasn't folded, it was only motivation to continue to get better.

In 2009, Butler needed late-game heroics from Gordon Hayward and a halfcourt shot that fell just short at the buzzer.

Coach Stevens surely wanted to win but even after defeat he told his players, "There's certainly nothing to hang your head about. I told them in there, what they've done, what they did together, will last longer than one night, regardless of the outcome."

It will be a similar feeling for Butler, but this time around, they want to win it. The Bulldogs should have a decided advantage, as far as experience goes.

This Butler team knows how to win and fight through adversity. It was just late January, early February, when you witnessed Butler lose three straight road games, one to bottom-feeder Youngstown State.

The one game at a time cliche paid dividends because, since then, Butler hasn't loss a game and went on to win the conference title and was selected as one of the 68 teams in the field after going off the radar for sometime.

The Bulldogs managed to squeak past Old Dominion in the first round after a buzzer beater by senior Matt Howard but really shocked the world with their last second defeat over No. 1 seeded Pittsburgh.

The Bulldogs, not only made two straight trips to the Final Four, but also has defeated the No. 1 and No. 2 seed in their region for the second straight year as well.

As usual, the path to the National Championship is never easy. The Bulldogs will have a tough time with one of the hottest teams in America in the VCU Rams, who are coming off a 10-point victory over No. 1 seeded Kansas.

If Butler does what is possible the next two games, this team, along with its gifted coach, should go down as one of the best teams of all-time.

Howard and Shelvin Mack have led Butler throughout the tournament thus far, but the Bulldogs will only go as far Shawn Vanzant and Khyle Marshall takes them.

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VCU Wants to Keep Shaka Smart

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
The VCU Rams (28-11, 12-6) went from the First Four to Final Four in a blink of an eye.

Many questioned the committee's selection of VCU, claiming teams like Colorado, Virginia Tech, and Alabama were more deserving.

But, now we finally see what the committee saw in the Rams, and thankful they gave us all a great showing in the NCAA tournament.

That great showing has increased his popularity around the NCAA.

After seeing various job opening this past month from programs in the power-six conferences, coach Shaka Smart has been a name mentioned for many jobs.

But, according to VCU's athletic director Norwood Teague, "We're gonna' keep him, we just have to be proactive about it."

Right now, coach Smart's salary is 350,000 with a bonus for VCU's tournament run.

It's almost a trend to see coaches from VCU accept major deals from power conferences after success with the Rams. Coach Jeff Capel did it, and so did Anthony Grant.

It's not promised for coach Smart to leave, and AD Teague is already making a push towards keeping their animated coach.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mike Anderson Leaves Missouri for Arkansas

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
After claiming he would stay at Missouri as their head coach, Mike Anderson has decided to leave the Tigers and take the head coaching job at Arkansas.

Anderson spent 17 years as an assistant at Arkansas previously under his mentor Nolan Richardson. After Richardson was fired for controversial statement, Anderson finished out the season.

During the off-season, Anderson failed to fill the head coaching vacancy after interviewing for the job, instead, Arkansas went with Stan Heath.

Anderson then went to coach at UAB, and then on to Missouri.

Anderson spent five years at Missouri and gave Mizzou fans a reason to cheer during basketball season.

He's had a winning record all five years at Mizzou, and three NCAA tournament appearances to go along with an Elite Eight berth.

Coach Anderson was in talks with Missouri about an additional two years to his contract and a raise, but the talks were withdrawn and, in the end, Anderson received a 200K raise and his 'dream job.'

"He was happy. You always want someone to be happy. You do what's best for you. Going to Arkansas was what's best for coach Anderson," said junior Laurence Bowers.

Anderson has once again took over an underachieving program but is confident he can turn things around. "I am extremely excited to once again be a part of this special university and Razorback athletics," Anderson said.

"With continued passionate support of all Razorback fans, I am confident that we will have the opportunity to succeed on and off the court and continue to build on the University of Arkansas' championship tradition."

Arkansas' recruiting class was nabbed as an top-10 recruiting class by many recruiting outlets. His first major job is keeping that talented recruiting class in-tact.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bruce Pearl Saga Over at Tennessee

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell

The case that has shadowed Bruce Pearl is still in full swing but his tenure as the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers appears to be over.

Pearl took over the Vol's after a (14-17, 6-10) season and immediately had an impact.

In his first season at the helm, Pearl orchestrated one of the biggest turnarounds leading the Vol's to their first tournament appearance since 2001.

Coach Pearl continued the same success throughout his tenure making a school record, six straight NCAA tournament appearances, where he racked up an 8-5 postseason record along with the first Elite Eight berth in school history.

The Vol's unhappily, cut ties with their most successful coach who finished his career at Tennessee with a 145-61 record.

The firing was a bit surprising, because athletic director Mike Hamilton wanted to stand by Pearl throughout the process, but according to sources UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheeks made the call in his firing.

Coach Pearl had been involved in recruiting violations that started in September after he knowingly broke NCAA rules by hosting recruits and 'mislead' the NCAA investigators in their investigation after photos surfaced.

Tennessee has agreed to pay 948,728 as a part of his termination agreement. Former Appalachian State head coach Houston Fancher has been the designated interim coach until the new coach is hired.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

VCU Rams Hungry for More

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Before the tournament even started, many had questioned the committee's selection of placing the Virginia Commonwealth Rams (26-11, 12-6) among the field of 68 teams in the NCAA tournament.

VCU lacked key wins, and didn't win the Colonial conference regular season title nor conference tournament. In fact, they finished just fourth in the standings.

But, this March, VCU has proved that they deserve to be in the tournament after notching three straight victories, all of which, were very impressive.

"I think the committee is sitting back smiling now," said senior Brandon Rozzell. "I'd tell them, 'Thanks for putting us in a position to make a name for ourselves.'"

The latest game was the eye-opener for the remaining 16 squads in the tournament and the 18,000 fans on-hand to see the game.

VCU pulled off an upset of the Purdue Boilermakers (26-8, 14-4), 94-76 and advanced to their first ever Sweet 16 in school history.

The Rams know exactly what's at stake Friday as they take on the tenth-seeded Florida State Seminoles (23-10, 11-5), who are coming off a blow out win of Notre Dame.

It's a chance to make what has been a breakthrough season a special season that will endure in Virginia Commonwealth history.

"This was a goal we talked about during our summer workouts," Rozzell said. "I'm just happy to have accomplished it with my best friends." He concluded by saying, "We're not done yet though."

VCU has, once again, proved that they were better than their regular season record indicated, and here's another chance to solidify that notion against a top defensive squad in Florida State.

VCU rediscovered what made it such a dominant team the last two months of the season, and as a result, the Rams are in place to make some more history.

"Our communication on the defensive end has been the difference all tournament long," VCU head coach Shaka Smart said. VCU has been stingy on defense allowing just 59 points per game to opposing teams.

This defense has size and athleticism and great on-ball skills throughout their lineup. Purdue had to try and beat VCU with someone else besides E'Twaun Moore, who was held to 10 points on 5-of-15 (33%) shooting from the field. Credit his struggles to senior Ed Nixon, who was phenomenal on defense.

As a team, VCU has scored 15 points per game off of 6.3 turnovers per game. The Rams are very active on defense and make the most of every mistake by the opposing team.

VCU's offense has shown a lot of improvement as well, averaging 75-points per game during the tournament.

VCU has done it with a balanced attack. Coach Smart said their communication on the defensive end has been the difference all tournament long, but so has the bench production.

The Rams get a great lift from their bench, averaging 25.3 points per game. That kind of production off the bench has helped the Rams utilize their depth and keep fresh legs on the court.

VCU also averages 28 points in the paint, 17 assist, and 12.6 second chance points per game.

Throughout the tournament, many didn't like the selection of VCU in the field of 68. But that didn't matter to the Rams, as they come out every game wanting it more than the other team. It's hard to beat heart.

VCU will certainly be able to advance to an Elite Eight if they continue to play they way they have this tournament.

Defense, and a high-potent offense, with friendly players and a deep bench has helped VCU advance so far in the tournament. That kind of impact will need to be felt as they continue their quest towards a possible National Championship.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Butler Poised for Another Magical Run?

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Gordon Haywards last second shot in last years NCAA Championship game will forever be known for what could have been.

The Butler Bulldogs (25-9, 13-5) had made their way to the National Championship game after knocking off No. 1 and No. 2 in their region, back-to-back.

After watching their desperation attempt fall short at the buzzer, Butler was left empty handed but shown potential to get back where all the magic started.

Although, without superstar Hayward, it would be more of a struggle.

Jumping up and down in joy, was Butler at mid-court after making another last second victory to knock off the No. 1 seed in their region for the second straight season.

Butler enters the Sweet 16 for the second straight year currently riding a 11-game win streak and are on the brink of reaching the schools second Final Four if they keep winning.

But in order to continue their improbable run to another Final Four, Butler will have to withstand some outstanding tasks.

Namely, stopping the red-hot Wisconsin Badgers (25-8, 13-5) who win games on the defensive side of the ball.

Wisconsin was thought to be defeated in the first round by Belmont, but their stifling defense held them to 58 points and cruised to victory.

Just yesterday, the Badgers used defense to defeat the Kansas State Wildcats. K-State senior Jacob Pullen had scored 38 points on Wisconsin but guard Jordan Taylor made sure it wasn't 41, as he blocked the potential game-tying shot.

Wisconsin is a veteran team with a combined eight juniors and seniors on their roster. Taylor and Jon Leuer have played like seniors rather than juniors averaging double-figured scoring on the season.

The only real question mark this season has been, who will step up outside of the two juniors, and Wisconsin has proved their is more to the team than the two talented stars.

Butler has its share of talented stars led by Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack. Howard hit two clutch shots to win the game in both outings in March, and Mack led the Bulldogs in scoring with 30-points against one of the better defensive teams in the nation.

It's hard to find many weaknesses on both sides, which is why this game will be filled with interesting match-ups. The one potential mismatch could be Ronald Nored against Taylor.

Nored is a great on-ball defender, and Taylor is coming off a poor-offensive outing against Kansas State. If Butler is able to utilize Nored's defensive prowess on Taylor, the Bulldogs will be in great position to win the game.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rick Pitino Considering Retirement?

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
On the right end of the scorers table sat the Louisville Cardinals (25-10, 12-6) head coach Rick Pitino stunned when Demonte Harper nailed the, soon-to-be, game-winning shot with around seven seconds left in the game.

Louisville immediately called a timeout, but the desperation attempt at the ends of the game was blocked by Kenneth Faried, and the Cardinals take another first round exit.

As Coach Pitino walked off the court, you could tell how badly this loss affected him. As a result, In the press conference, he didn't hold back from his feelings.

"Well, I was real proud of our team this year," the Hall-of-Fame told the press.

"This is as tough a loss as I've had in coaching, and I've been coaching a long time, after tonight maybe too long."

I'm not sure how to take those comments, but it's never good hearing that from your future Hall of Fame coach. Coach Pitino has had success with Louisville in the past, however, the last two seasons have both been first round exits after guiding the Cardinals to two straight Elite Eight appearances.

The expectations have always been high for coach Pitino, especially being the successor of Louisville great Denny Crum, who led the Cardinals to six Final Fours and two national championships.

Coach Pitino has been the head coach at Louisville for the past nine seasons, and just signed an seven year extension with the school before the season began.

Coach Pitino retiring may not be a for sure thing, but the "maybe too long after today" comment has to catch your eye.

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Florida Gators Take Care of Business Against UC Santa Barbara

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
On a day filled with game-winners, and mid-major programs advancing, the Florida Gators (27-7, 13-3) made sure it wasn't upset in the first round again.

Florida took care of business against UC Santa Barbara (18-14, 8-8) 79-51.

The Gators got out to a fast start breaking 40-points before the Gauchos eclipsed the 20-point mark.

Florida did it with a balanced attack all game finishing with 22 assist, on 29 made field goals. The intensity was there all game, and Florida ran UC Santa Barbara out of the building early.

Junior guard Erving Walker led the Gators with 18-points nailing 4-of-6 from downtown and added six assist as well.

Backcourt mate Kenny Boynton also chipped-on 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go along with a season-high four steals.

Vernon Macklin and Chandler Parsons also chipped in 10-points apiece, while Parson finished with a game-high 10 assist, and seven rebounds.

The Gators tough defense was the determining factor of Florida getting out of the first round. The Gators held UC Santa Barbara to 36 percent shooting from the field, and 26 percent from downtown.

Not to mention, holding the Gauchos to a season-low 51 points, as well as, turning them over 17 times.

UC Santa Barbara had two players in double-figures led by junior Orlando Johnson, who poured in a game-high 21 points, four rebounds, and two steals. James Nunnally also got into the action with 12 points and five rebounds.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kyrie Irving Could Return for March Madness

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
For most of the second half of the season, the Duke Blue Devils (30-4, 13-3) were without the most crucial piece to their starting lineup.

That crucial piece is Kyrie Irving, the freshman phenom from West Orange, New Jersey.

Before injuring his big toe in a win against Butler, Irving displayed his ability to play at a higher level than many expected.

Not only was Irving beneficial on the offensive side of the ball, but he was crucial to defensive success as well.

After missing so many games this season, Irving might finally get to play in a Duke uniform one more time before, possibly, forgoing NCAA eligibility and entering the 2011 NBA draft.

Duke's head coach Mike Krzyzewski said that the frosh could play after practicing, lightly, with the team Tuesday.

Irving averaged 17.4 points, 5.1 assist, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game in eight games this season; all team-highs at the time.

With Irving, Duke has to be considered legit title contenders. Irving adds a pure point guard with great speed and quickness. Irving is a mix match for many because of his elite speed and ball-handling skills.

Irving is the perfect compliment to senior Nolan Smith, as showcased earlier this season. Although, coach Krzyzewski did say, "there is a chance that he would play," which doesn't mean it's a for sure thing.

Not to mention, even if he was to return, Irving wouldn't start and would be used on a limited basis.

Either way, Irving returning is good news for all Duke fans. With Irving, Duke has a great chance at repeating as National Champions.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

John Pelphrey Should Have Gotten More Time

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
March 13, 2011 was the day the Arkansas Razorbacks (18-13, 7-9) fired head coach John Pelphrey.

Coach Pelphrey started off hot at Arkansas, leading the Razorbacks to the second round of the NCAA tournament in his first year with the program.

Since then, Pelphrey had losing records during conference play and never was invited back to the big dance.

In his four seasons at Arkansas, Pelphrey accumulated a record of (69-59, 25-39).

Jeff Long, the athletic director at Arkansas said, "I wanted to give John [Pelphrey] every chance possibly."

"I felt like four years was fair to John [Pelphrey] given the situation he took over and given the commitment that was made to him when he arrived here."

Granted, four years is enough time to turn a program around or, at least, show improvement and that's exactly what coach Pelphrey was steering towards.

Even before his days at Arkansas, it took him three years before making a positive move in the Sun Belt Conference.

But, with patience, coach Pelphrey turned South Alabama into one of the most competitive teams in the Sun Belt conference.

Pelphrey could of had the same success at Arkansas if AD Jeff Long was patient with the process.

"Obviously, I would've liked more time," Pelphrey said. "It takes time to build stability in a program. Every situation is different."

Coach Pelphrey has a point. Despite not making much noise in College Basketball since his first season, coach Pelphrey was on the verge of bringing in one of the top recruiting classes in the country.

Usually, when a firing occurs, recruits want to reopen their commitment. However, the Arkansas recruiting class, according to Arkansas Online, are looking to wait it out and see who will replace Pelphrey.

Just the thought of possibly losing commitment after securing a top-10 recruiting class is disturbing.

If Athletic Director Long allows Pelphrey more time, Arkansas could be looking at a top-25 ranking and possibly continual tournament bids.

Pelphrey's recruiting efforts made his rant for more time realistic. Coach Pelphrey was a fine coach and just needed more time to establish himself in the SEC conference.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

March Madness: Must Watch First Round Games

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Finally, the Selection Committee has spoken, the bracket has been announced and the tournament everybody has been waiting for is right around the corner.

March Madness has many drooling like a kid in the candy store. You have Ohio State, Duke, Pitt, Kansas and many other talented programs after the National Championship.

Following the biggest Sunday in College Basketball many are talking about the talented programs that weren't fortunate enough to make the NCAA tournament.

Also, how balanced the NCAA brackets are this time around.

There are many first round matchup that aren't easy cakewalks. The 16-seeds can give the one seeds a hard time, and so forth.

The biggest matchup probably are going to occur in the first round; take a look at my must watch games in the first round.

George Mason Patriots (26-6, 16-2) vs Villanova Wildcats (21-11, 9-9)

George Mason and Villanova are going in completely opposite directions. Villanova has started to make their late season slump, and George Mason is coming off a loss that snapped their 16-game win streak.

This is a great first round match that should have an Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight type atmosphere.

Both teams have great guard play, which should make the game very interesting. George Mason's senior guard Cam Long and Villanova's Corey Fisher should be an interesting matchup because both guards have the ability to fill it up from the field.

My prediction: Villanova is on a five-game losing streak headed into March and some questioned if they should even make the tournament after turning in that kind of performance at the end of the season. Villanova is struggling with defense and that is one thing George Mason has in their favor. My bracket wants to say Villanova won't lose six in a row, but George Mason is too talented to lose in the first round.

Cincinnati Bearcats (25-8, 11-7) vs Missouri Tigers (23-10, 8-8)

On the road, Missouri has been a team that struggles. But when it's neutral, Mizzou has come away with four wins compared to two losses. Cincinnati, on the other hand, has come away with a 2-1 record at neutral sites but has shown more of an ability to win on the road in a tough environment.

Both teams have their differences but their similarity is what makes this matchup intriguing. Both teams are very good defensively. Cincinnati is physical and makes the offenses force shots that aren't there.

Missouri, on the other hand, strives off a physical press defense that create many turnovers and easy baskets.

My prediction: Cincinnati doesn't have near as much offensive power as Mizzou. The Bearcats only blemish this season is their inability to put up big offensive numbers. The game will be decided by defense, as you probably have guessed. If Cincinnati can keep the game around the 60's the Bearcats should be in good position to move on, but if their guards are unable to handle the pressure by Mizzou, the Bearcats will be looking at a early round exit.

Texas Longhorns (27-7, 13-3) vs Oakland Golden Grizzlies (25-9, 17-1)

The game certainly fails the eye-test. You have a Summit League team in Oakland and a Big 12 powerhouse in Texas, easy game right? Not so much.

Oakland went out and competed against nationally ranked colleges in the non-conference highlighted by matchups with Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan State, Illinois and Tennessee.

The Golden Grizzlies have size in the frontcourt that can match Texas' as well as talented guards that can create problems as well.

My prediction: Despite the non-conference SOS taking on eight teams inside the RPI top 100. There outlook, however, wasn't so pretty. Oakland finished (1-7) against teams inside the RPI top 100 because of their inability to take care of the ball. They'll be up against one of the more physical defensive teams in the nation and that could be too overwhelming for the mid-major.

Princeton Tigers (25-6, 12-2) vs Kentucky Wildcats (25-8, 10-6)

15 years ago, Princeton was a No. 13 seed and knocked off defending champ UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament. This year, Princeton is the No. 13 seed, again, and taking on a perennial threat in fourth-ranked Kentucky.

The Princeton Tigers isn't a team that is going to beat you with offense. In fact, this season, the Tigers only surpassed 80-points five times.

Although, I do believe Princeton could be a tough matchup for this young Kentucky team.

My prediction: As of late, Kentucky has showcased their ability to play as one, instead of playing one-on-one basketball with a matchup that they favor. Princeton has the tools to disrupt Kentucky, I just don't see it unfolding that way.

VCU Rams (23-11, 12-6) vs USC Trojans (19-14, 10-8)

The First Four might have one of the more interesting match-ups in VCU vs USC. USC has non-conference wins against Texas, Tennessee and just barely loss at Kansas. VCU has just the same amount of significant wins but also failed to win against Tennessee at home.

This matchup should be very good considering that both teams have proved that they can play with some of the best.

Both are virtually the same team with no significant differences and matchup very well.

My prediction: I believe VCU holds a slight edge over USC, although I believe USC should win this game. USC has competed against some of the best in the Pac-10 but VCU has competed against some of the best in the Colonial as well. It will be a very good game that I think will be decided by a couple of points.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kemba Walker Leads Scary UConn Team Into Tourny

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
The Connecticut Huskies (26-9, 9-9) came into the season, unranked with nobody giving them much of a chance as a contender.

The Huskies did lose a lot from the season before but returned their potent guard Kemba Walker, forward Alex Oriahki and added many talented freshmen.

Early in the season, the Huskies went from un-ranked to No. 7 in the AP poll after winning the Maui Tournament with wins over Michigan State and Kentucky, who were both top ten teams in the country at the time.

To cap off the regular season, UConn went on a similar run, except this time the Huskies capped off a five game win streak over four straight ranked teams to be crowned Big East tournament champions.

After the game, head coach Jim Calhoun chocked on his words when he talked about this week's focus and handwork showed by his Huskies squad.

With their 69-66 victory over Louisville in the Big East tournament final, UConn pulled off arguably the toughest stretch in college basketball this season, possibly even history.

"This is what I worked for, the whole summer, this is what our whole team worked for and all of our hard work is just paying off," Walker said following their Big East championship win.

Throughout the year, the Big East has been noted as the nations best conference. Projected NCAA Brackets and experts have 11 Big East teams dancing, and amongst them will be UConn, despite the 9-9 record during conference play.

This makes their five-game win streak that impressive. In the past three days, the Huskies pulled off wins against teams that dominated them in the regular season.

Pitt defeated UConn by double-digits, Louisville defeated them twice, and Syracuse pulled away from the Huskies as well.

Not only did the Huskies prove that they can compete against some of the best teams in the country, but showed their ability to win tough games with a NCAA tournament like atmosphere.

At neutral sites this season, UConn has been a perfect (8-0). Six of the eight wins have come against top-25 opponents, and five of the matchups were against top-15 ranked teams.

Credit junior guard Walker for his leadership and perseverance down the stretch for this young Huskies team with just five upperclassmen. At neutral sites Walker averages 27.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.1 assist, and 2.7 steals.

Granted, Walkers stat line is very impressive but other Huskies have certainly put forth effort to pull out wins.

Oriahki, Roscoe Smith, Jeremy Lamb, and Shabazz Napier are all key contributors and chip in just enough to lead UConn to victory.

In mostly all of the losses to UConn this season, a player outside of Walker failed to step up and contribute. But, heading into March Madness, I don't think the Huskies will have to worry about that.

When asked how this will translate to the NCAA tournament coach Calhoun said, "I'm caught up in the emotion of what happened here."

"I think we showed in the past four days, particularly, that we're a good basketball team." Soon after, coach Calhoun stated that he's anxious to lead the Huskies through the tournament.

No team in College Basketball history has won five games in five days at any site to win a conference title, until now that is. Going back to what coach Calhoun said, the Huskies are a really good basketball team.

UConn has proven they can win at neutral sites and junior Walker has great leadership skills that should aid the Huskies well come tournament time.

One thing sticks out to me about this UConn team now, and that's they can win without requiring Walker to get a crazy stat line.

Other players on the team have stepped up and proved that their is more to UConn than their future first-round draft pick, Walker.

The Huskies are well conditioned, balanced, anxious and dangerous headed into March. I'm saying UConn has the best chance at sneaking up on an NCAA title after a performance like this.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Pat Knight Optimistic About Firing

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Pat Knight began his career at Texas Tech as an assistant to his father, the legendary, Bob Knight. Bob Knight ended his career turning Texas Tech around leading them to winning seasons, all but one year while coaching.

Pat Knight, however, wasn't so fortunate.

Knight turned in one winning season in his three full seasons as head coach at Texas Tech.

Knight never surpassed five wins in the Big 12 conference, and never was invited to the big dance.

Knight was handed the Red Raiders with a chance to keep Texas Tech as a national powerhouse. He loss his first two, but wins over ranked teams like Kansas State and Texas had many thinking big in Lubbock.

Instead of a storybook ending, Knight ran Tech right back in turmoil and during his four-year tenure, that concluded March, 7, 2011, he turned in a 50-61 coaching record.

In the end, Knight's undoing at Texas Tech came to no ones surprise. Coach Knight struggled establishing the same motion offense, and man-to-man defense executed so well by his father.

Recruiting posted a huge problem for Knight as well. Not being able to put consistent young talent on the floor hurt his chances of improving Tech.

In his last press conference as a coach at Texas Tech, Knight went out with class. A nine minute video by RaiderPowerTV shows the former coach go out with class. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Baylor Bears Forward Perry Jones Suspended

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
The Baylor Bears (18-2, 7-9) star freshman Perry Jones was suspended for tonights game against the Oklahoma Sooners (13-17, 5-11) and could be done for the season.

According to many media outlets, Jones received improper benefits and the NCAA looks to end his season.

Jones III averaged 13.9 points, and was the second-leading rebounder with 7.2 per game. He was a big part of Baylor's long 2-3 zone that featured two other players with 7-foot plus wingspans.

Without a frontcourt force, Baylor's tournament hopes could be diminished. Especially, seeing that the Bears are on the outside looking in.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

BYU Cougars Not Ready to Fade to Black

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
The BYU Cougars (27-3, 13-2) were playing hot after sweeping the season series of their conference foe the San Diego State Aztecs (28-2, 13-2)

Jimmer Fredette captured the eyes of many with his scoring ability, but sophomore Brandon Davies is what steered BYU to elite status.

Davies 6'9'' 240 pound frame was a problem for many teams that competed against BYU. Davies is athletic, long and can run the court well.

He was one of Fredette's favorite targets starting 26 of 29 games and turned in 11.1 points and a team-leading 6.2 rebounds.

After meeting with school officials on Monday to confess an honor code violation, Davies was released from the team and could be possibly booted from the school.

BYU's dream season has took an unexpected turn for the worst. Without Davies, it's hard to picture BYU a final four team or a No. 1 seed in the tournament.

"We told him it's OK," Fredette said. "Sometimes in life we make mistakes. We've got to play through it."

After spending one day at No. 3 in the polls, the Cougars suffered a 82-64 loss at home to the New Mexico Lobos (19-11, 7-8) who finished a season sweep of BYU. Without Davies, the spotlight has shifted to Mountain West conference rival San Diego State.

Although, BYU wants everybody to know that it hasn't gone anywhere.

Head coach Dave Rose did give New Mexico a ton of credit for taking it to the Cougars. Coach Rose also said, "we'll regroup," following the blowout loss to New Mexico.

At 13-2 in the Mountain West, a win at home against Wyoming would give the Cougars a share of the conference title. It might also be a chance to show that BYU can win without Davies.

For once this season, the Cougars are considered the underdogs in College Basketball. Their leader Fredette has always had BYU strong and willing to battle against top competition.

Fredette was able to will this team last season before hitting a road block in the NCAA tournament. With more in his arsenal this season, their shouldn't be much holding the senior back.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2011 NBA Draft Stock Report: February Edition

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
The countdown towards the 2011 NBA draft has been an interesting one. This years draft shouldn't be very predictable with an up-and-down choice for No. 1 overall.

February provided an look at many players raising their draft stock including two players from well-known programs.

Marshon Brooks will go down in history for his performance against Notre Dame and Jacob Pullen will possibly make history at Kansas State with his scoring ability as of late.

Additionally, the NBA trade deadline provided a big consensus of what teams are looking for the "projects" and players to improve their team.

Many outlets have reported that Cleveland is targeting Duke's Kyrie Irving. His draft stock rose without him playing a game since early December.

Rising draft stock

Harrison Barnes  - North Carolina (February stat line: 17 pts, 6.7 rebs)

Barnes has had an up-and-down season but he's got it together late. The change to put Kendall Marshall in the backcourt opposed to Larry Drew III has helped Barnes progress.

His jump shot definitely could use work but his ability to be clutch late is something that scouts like about Barnes. They also drool over his potential. I've seen Barnes deliver the dagger to many teams this season for North Carolina, but many believe he can do a lot better.

Barnes has been dominant in February and should be a huge asset to an NBA team with his ability to score and get on the glass at 6'7''.

Alec Burks - Colorado (February stat line: 19.1 pts, 8 rebs, 3.4 ast)

Burks is a definite lottery selection. He showed scouts his ability to play defense in February with his game sealing steal against Kansas State's Jacob Pullen and his ability to block shots.

The lanky 6'6'' guard has shown his ability to score from the wing and possesses a NBA ready jump shot.

Burks is a gifted scorer but also an all-around guard who has above-average ball handling skills and could play point guard with help.

Marshon Brooks - Providence (February stat line: 30.1 pts, 6.5 rebs)

Brooks had the most impressive month of anybody in College Basketball. Brooks scored in double-figures in every game in February and also scored 20 points in every game but one.

He also is known for scoring 52 points in a loss against Notre Dame and earlier scoring 43 in a loss to Georgetown.

Brooks, in my opinion, is the most gifted scorer in the country. Not only did he score 30 points per outing in February, but he shot 80-153 (52%) from the field and scored 211 points in one month.

Brooks is an NBA ready shooting guard with a lot of room to improve.

Kenneth Faried - Morehead State (February stat line: 19 pts, 14.2 rebs, 2.5 blks)

Faried broke the all-time NCAA rebounding record set by Tim Duncan and is continuing to create cushion.

Faried is a gifted player in the low post with excellent rebounding skills. He has a non-stop motor which allows him to attack the glass so hard. Faried isn't a great option as far as scoring down low but is steadily improving.

Nonetheless, his defensive ability and rebounding skills is the green light for NBA scouts.

Kyrie Irving - Duke

Kyrie Irving hasn't played a game since early December but that hasn't stopped NBA scouts from targeting the talented guard from Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Earlier this season, Irving was a man amongst boys. His loss has been felt on this Duke squad who has dropped three on the season.

Irving is a huge impact player that can turn a team around.

He is a point guard in every sense of the word and his ball handling skills allow him to get in the paint at will.

Duke's medical staff has done a good job of letting Irving fully heal and once healthy, Irving should be a huge addition to a NBA franchise if he decides to forgo his final three years of eligibility.

Norris Cole - Cleveland State (February stat line: 26 pts, 7.7 rebs, 6.3 ast)

Cole had the most impressive stat line in all of College Basketball in the past 15 years. Cole embraced a 40-20 game, the only other player to do that in 15 years was NBA star Blake Griffin.

Cole has the ability to fill it up but get his teammates involved. Cole has a great basketball IQ and great vision and passing skills.

He has a NBA ready jump shot with room to improve. He'll be the steal of the draft when it's all said and done. Underrated point guard at the next level.

Falling draft stock

Josh Selby - Kansas (February stat line: 6.8 pts, 2.8 ast)

Selby has been the complete opposite of what Kansas expected this season. Selby had huge shoes to fill, and outside of his two first games, Selby hasn't shown up.

Selby has been a non-factor for Kansas and has all but fell out of the lottery draft as of now. Although, I do believe if he was to come out, Selby could still be a first round pick with help to his jump shot.

Durrell Summers - Michigan State (February stat line: 5.5 pts, 2.5 rebs)

Summers has a season to forget. In February, Summers didn't score in double figures once. Not to mention, the 6'5'' guard was held scoreless in a must-win game against Ohio State.

His inconsistent play has played a huge role in Michigan State's down season. Summers has been exposed as one-dimensional on offense and that has affected his draft stock tremendously.

Summers will need to put up solid numbers consistently to win back over the NBA scouts.

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