Jeff Eisenberg

  • Sixteen transfers who will make the biggest impact this season

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 18 hrs ago

    Our 2015-16 season preview continues with a look at transfers most likely to make an immediate impact next season. Check back the next five weeks for more college hoops preview content.

    1. Damion Lee, Louisville (from Drexel): The most prized graduate transfer on the market this offseason joined a program that desperately needed a wing scorer of his caliber. Lee, the nation's fifth-leading scorer at 21.4 points per game a year ago, will provide a jolt of offense for a Cardinals team that must overcome the loss of Terry Rozier, Chris Jones, Montrezl Harrell and Wayne Blackshear.

    2. Sterling Gibbs, UConn (from Seton Hall): UConn's ceiling next season rose considerably in May when Gibbs chose the Huskies over Ohio State, Pittsburgh and a handful of other suitors. The 6-foot-2 graduate transfer averaged 16.3 points and 3.8 assists and shot 43.6 percent from behind the arc last season at Seton Hall. He'll likely replace graduated star Ryan Boatright as UConn's primary playmaker.

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  • Miles Bridges' commitment gives Tom Izzo his highest rated class ever

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    In Tom Izzo's illustrious 20-year career as Michigan State's head coach, he has never landed more than two consensus top 50 prospects in the same class before.

    At minimum, he'll double that next year.

    Small forward Miles Bridges became the fourth top 50 Class of 2016 prospect to select Michigan State when he committed to the Spartans during a news conference on Saturday in his hometown of Flint. Bridges,'s No. 11 prospect, chose Michigan State over fellow finalists Kentucky and Indiana.

    The addition of Bridges solidifies the 2016 class as the most highly touted that Izzo has ever landed. Joining Bridges in East Lansing next fall will be high-scoring 6-foot-6 wing Joshua Langford (No. 18), dynamic 6-foot point guard Cassius Winston (No. 28) and broad-shouldered 6-foot-9 forward Nick Ward (No. 45).

    "Cassius is my boy, and I actually thought he was going to Michigan," Bridges told reporters in Flint on Saturday. "When he committed, I basically switched over to Michigan State from Kentucky."

  • Ten key questions facing top programs as practice opens

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Friday is the first day of practice for most Division I college basketball teams. Yahoo Sports begins its season preview coverage with a look at some of the key questions facing the nation's top programs and the answers that could emerge between now and the new season tipping off Nov. 13.  

    1. Can Gonzaga's three frontcourt stars play together?

    When Kyle Wiltjer, Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis all announced this past spring that they would be returning to Gonzaga, it created a compelling dilemma for Zags coach Mark Few. Could he figure out a way to get his three best players on the floor at the same time next season when each member of the trio stands at least 6-foot-10?

    Ultimately, the three-big look may not be the lineup with which Gonzaga starts or finishes most games, but it makes sense for the Zags to have it in their arsenal. Their backcourt is unproven with Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell and Byron Wesley all graduating and they have a fourth big man, redshirt sophomore Ryan Edwards, capable of contributing off the bench too.

    2. Has Indiana gotten any better defensively?

    3. How does Virginia replace Justin Anderson in its starting lineup?

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  • Geno Auriemma is as entertaining as ever in his latest rant

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    Maybe some people get offended easily when coaches use salty language. Perhaps some people want their coaches to be as vanilla as possible.

    Me, I love it when coaches speak openly and from the heart, which is why my reaction to Geno Auriemma's latest rant against his critics was laughter not outrage. 

    Midway through an entertaining hour-long interview on a Grantland podcast earlier this week, host Zach Lowe asked Auriemma if he ever gets bored leading a program so dominant that it has made eight straight Final Fours and captured 10 of the last 20 national titles. While responding, Auriemma tore into a segment of the UConn fan base that has been critical in spite of the program's overwhelming success.

    Auriemma also railed against those who dislike UConn later in the podcast.

    While Auriemma comes across a bit thin-skinned and oversensitive here, his comments are also an excellent window into what makes him so successful. 

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  • Why the appeals court's split decision was really a victory for the NCAA

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 5 days ago

    Officially, round two of O'Bannon vs. the NCAA will go down as a split decision.

    In reality, it's a ruling that should have members of college sports' old guard puffing on victory cigars.

    A federal appeals court dealt proponents of athletes' rights a significant blow Wednesday morning when it upheld the concept of amateurism in college athletics and ruled schools must only compensate scholarship athletes for the cost of attendance.

    The three-judge panel backed federal judge Claudia Wilken's 2014 ruling that the NCAA "is not above antitrust laws" and has been "more restrictive than necessary to maintain its tradition of amateurism." However, the appeals court struck down Wilken's proposal that universities pay their athletes up to $5,000 apiece for the use of their names and likenesses.

    Limiting the amount college athletes can be paid to the arbitrary figure of $5,000 was always a silly idea, but it's significant that the appeals court did not offer an alternative proposal for compensating athletes beyond their educational expenses.

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  • NCAA suspends Larry Brown, bans SMU from the postseason

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 6 days ago

    Larry Brown's third foray into college basketball is following the exact same pattern as the first two did more than a quarter century ago.

    Spectacular success, followed quickly by severe NCAA violations. 

    The NCAA announced Tuesday that it has banned SMU from the 2016 postseason, suspended Brown for 30 percent (nine games) of the upcoming season and stripped the Mustangs of nine scholarships over the next three seasons. Brown also received a two-year show-cause penalty for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

    The penalties stem from an NCAA investigation into whether former SMU assistant Ulric Maligi and a former basketball administrator helped ex-McDonald's All-American Keith Frazier with the coursework he needed to become eligible to play for the Mustangs.

    What also contributed to the severity of SMU's punishment is that Brown and his staff were allegedly not forthright when approached by NCAA investigators.

    All that was clearly enough to make the NCAA feel comfortable wielding a sledge hammer to punish SMU because these penalties are no slap on the wrist.

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  • John Calipari should probably stop talking about the Wisconsin loss

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 7 days ago

    He could have said that the Harrison twins were 9-for-13 from the field the game's first 32 minutes. He could have said that the Harrison twins have a knack for sinking clutch shots in key moments. He could have said that Kentucky simply was having trouble getting the ball inside to Karl-Anthony Towns.

    There are all sorts of plausible explanations John Calipari could have given for his ill-fated reliance on Andrew and Aaron Harrison late in Kentucky's Final Four loss to Wisconsin last April, but the one he chose stretched the bounds of credibility.

    Speaking at a basketball coaches clinic in Los Angeles on Sunday, Calipari seemed to suggest he stuck with the Harrisons out of loyalty even though he knew inserting Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker would give Kentucky a better chance to win. USA Today reporter Josh Peter attended the clinic and transcribed the crucial part of Calipari's comments.

    “But I owed it to those two (the Harrison twins) to do it.’’

    It never entered my mind to sub those two in that game or any other game late.

    See, how hard was that?

  • Ex-Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall finds work at an NAIA school

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 7 days ago

    Even though the NCAA has accused Donnie Tyndall of committing a handful of severe rules violations, the former Tennessee and Southern Mississippi coach still has managed to find work in college athletics. 

    Tyndall was hired Monday by Tennessee Wesleyan College as an associate athletic director. He will work for the NAIA school on a volunteer basis.

    "I am very excited about my new position at TWC," Tyndall said in a statement. "I am thankful for this incredible opportunity.  This position will give me the chance to share my experiences with our student athletes and help them launch their careers. My goal is to help our college, our community and our students."

    A volunteer position at an NAIA school isn't a glamorous job for someone of Tyndall's stature, yet it offers him a fresh start after the chaos of the previous year and a half.

    Tennessee Wesleyan's release announcing Tyndall's hiring makes no mention of any violations he allegedly committed. Tyndall's primary role at his new school will be in an administrative capacity.

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  • Non-conference scheduling studs and duds: The SEC

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 10 days ago

    Since most of this coming season's non-conference schedules have finally been released, it's a good time to assess whose slates are the most daunting and who didn't challenge themselves enough. Yahoo Sports will go league-by-league the next two weeks. Up next: The SEC.

    Toughest non-league schedule: Kentucky

    Kentucky doesn't merely have the SEC's most challenging non-conference schedule next season. It also may have the nation's toughest.

    The two most anticipated games the Wildcats will play are a Champion's Classic clash with Duke during the opening week of the season and a Jan. 30 visit to Kansas more than two months later. In between, the Wildcats will also visit UCLA, host Louisville and Arizona State and play Ohio State on a neutral court. 

    Despite losing seven key players from last year's Final Four team, Kentucky once again boasts a formidable enough roster to endure such a challenging schedule. The Wildcats will reload behind returners Tyler Ulis, Marcus Lee and Alex Poythress and another vaunted freshman class featuring forward Skal Labissiere and guards Isaiah Briscoe and Jamal Murray.

    Easiest non-league schedule: Mississippi State

  • Scathing criticism from prominent ex-players is hurting UCLA

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 12 days ago

    Gaining the support of a notoriously hard-to-please fan base is no longer the greatest challenge facing a UCLA basketball coach.

    Bruins fans seem reasonable compared to some of the school's most prominent former players.

    In the final two years of Ben Howland's tenure in Westwood, Bill Walton used his national TV platform to call for a change of leadership during every UCLA game he broadcasted. Then Wednesday, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar appeared on SiriusXM NBA Radio and expressed displeasure with how UCLA has performed under Howland's replacement Steve Alford.

    Scathing comments like those are damaging to the fragile health of UCLA's program even if fans dissatisfied with Alford are quick to applaud them.

    Alford certainly is not exempt from criticism for his performance as UCLA coach thus far, but the strangest part of Abdul-Jabbar's comments is that he chose to attack the third-year coach's teaching ability.

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