Jeff Eisenberg

  • Bryant's Joe O'Shea delivers March's first buzzer beater

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 hrs ago

    If March doesn't truly become March until the first postseason buzzer beater drops, then consider this the official start of college basketball's most beloved month. 

    Third-seeded Bryant trailed sixth-seeded Sacred Heart by three points in the dying seconds of Wednesday night's Northeast Conference quarterfinal when Dan Garvin corralled the rebound of a Dyami Starks missed 3-pointer and saved it to Joe O'Shea. In desperation, the 6-foot-4 senior sank an off-balance 3-pointer from the left of the top of the key as the buzzer sounded, forcing overtime and enabling Bryant to escape with a 91-85 victory after the second extra session.

    "I've done this 31 years, and there are certain games you never forget," Bryant coach Tim O'Shea told reporters after the game. "What was special today is this was a tournament game. You lose, you're done. To have that spectacular shot by my nephew, I'm not going to lie. It's really special."

    (Thanks for the video, ABC6)

    - - - - - - -

  • Bubble breakdown: LSU's latest bad loss damages two teams

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 11 hrs ago

    With less than two weeks remaining until Selection Sunday, the NCAA tournament bubble is beginning to take shape. Bubble Breakdown is the Dagger's daily look at the results that impact who's in and who's out.

    LSU's latest loss to a lesser-talented team damaged more than its chances of securing an at-large bid.

    By falling 78-63 at home against rebuilding Tennessee on Wednesday night, the Tigers also may have torpedoed the hopes of an SEC rival.

    The only RPI top 75 victories Texas A&M (20-9, 11-6) has this season came via a pair of victories over LSU during SEC play. That sweep could have been meaningful for the Aggies except the underachieving Tigers have fallen back to the bubble with bad league losses against Missouri, Auburn, Mississippi State and now Tennessee.

    Many mock brackets still project Texas A&M to make the field as a No. 10 or 11 seed, but that seems very generous considering the Aggies' lack of quality wins. The best team they've beaten besides LSU is likely a Florida team with a 15-15 record, though it admittedly does count for something that they also haven't lost to any sub-100 RPI opponents. 

    - - - - - - -

  • Star-crossed Penn State is the victim of a bafflingly bad foul call

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 16 hrs ago

    At the end of a star-crossed season in which it has lost 10 conference games by nine or fewer points, Penn State received another ill-timed dose of misfortune Wednesday night.

    The Nittany Lions were the victim of one of the most baffling foul calls of the season early in their 77-67 loss to Ohio State.

    As senior forward Ross Travis was preparing to finish a fast break with an uncontested dunk, teammate D.J. Newbill was trailing the play. Somehow Newbill was whistled for an offensive foul negating the dunk even though, if anything, Ohio State forward Amir Williams shoved him out of the way.

    That the call went against Newbill on senior night was especially cruel. The Penn State guard is already one of the nation's most unappreciated stars because he averages 20.4 points per game on a below-the-radar team that's 3-13 in the Big Ten and has no other double-digit scorers.

    [Fill out a Tourney bracket and get a free Big Gulp Drink]

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @JeffEisenberg

  • Remembering Hank Gathers on the 25th anniversary of his death

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 19 hrs ago

    Picture Hank Gathers on the basketball court, and one of the first things you'll inevitably remember is how strong he was.

    The chiseled 6-foot-7 former Loyola Marymount star was a scoring and rebounding machine around the rim. He was the self-proclaimed strongest man in America, a scorer so automatic he earned the nickname "Hank the Bank," a future NBA star whose coach referred to him as a "walking thunderbolt."

    Those qualities were part of the reason Gathers' death 25 years ago today was so sad and so shocking. On March 4, 1990, a 23-year-old man who was outwardly invincible slammed home a long lob pass during a game against Portland, then stumbled, collapsed and tragically never got up.

    The death of Gathers still evokes strong feelings from the six-year-old son who barely got to know his dad and from the teammates who famously honored him with a stunning Elite Eight run that began just days after his death. They spoke to Yahoo Sports last year for the above video about Gathers' legacy and the 1990 NCAA tournament run.

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @JeffEisenberg

  • Indiana's season is teetering after seventh loss in 11 games

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 20 hrs ago

    Thanks to an impressive list of quality wins that includes SMU, Butler, Maryland and Ohio State, Indiana has probably accomplished enough already this season to make the NCAA tournament without winning another game.

    The Hoosiers appear unwisely hell-bent on testing that theory.

    A non-competitive 77-63 home loss against Iowa on Tuesday night was Indiana's seventh loss in 11 games since cracking the national rankings on the morning of Jan. 23. All four of the Hoosiers' victories came over non-NCAA tournament contenders and the most recent three losses were home games against Purdue and the Hawkeyes and a road game at Northwestern. 

    Indiana (19-11, 9-8) still appears in virtually every mock bracket in spite of that stretch, but the Hoosiers would certainly be playing with fire if they lost their regular season finale against Michigan State on Saturday and again early in the Big Ten tournament. Although four victories against surefire NCAA tournament teams compares well with other bubble teams, Indiana's non-league strength of schedule was awful and it hasn't exactly left the strongest impression on the committee recently.

    - - - - - - -

  • Three potential bid thieves bubble teams should dread

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    When Saint Joseph's went from the fringes of the NCAA tournament picture to winning the Atlantic 10 tournament last March, it was bad news for bubble teams hoping to hear their names called on Selection Sunday.

    The Hawks claimed an automatic NCAA tournament bid, forcing teams with stronger profiles from their league into the at-large pool and reducing the number of spots available to bubble teams by one.

    This March, there will surely be an interloper or two that uses an unexpected league tournament run to make its way into the NCAA tournament field this season. Here's a look at some potential bid thieves that fans of potential bubble teams should watch out for during the next two weeks of conference tournament action.

    Three other dark horses:

    Saint Mary's (21-8, 13-5): Gonzaga is the WCC's juggernaut and BYU is the top challenger, but the best of the rest in that league is the Gaels. They've split with the Cougars this season and led the Zags deep into the second half in Moraga 10 days ago. They also boast one of the nation's most undervalued players in Brad Waldow.

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @JeffEisenberg

  • Latest escape has Kentucky one win from perfect regular season

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    They stormed back from six down late in the second half at LSU. They survived overtime against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. They thwarted Florida's spirited upset bid.

    In a year in which Kentucky has needed to engineer some artful escapes against SEC opponents to preserve its undefeated record, the Wildcats saved one of their best for last.

    Kentucky moved within one win of an unbeaten regular season with a 72-64 road victory over a Georgia team that had the Wildcats teetering several times in the second half. The Bulldogs shredded Kentucky's typically formidable defense most of the night by spreading the floor and attacking the rim, enabling them to open leads of nine with nine minutes to play and six with five minutes to play.

    Just like it has in previous tests, Kentucky gathered itself and responded, this time seizing back control with a game-ending 16-2 surge. Freshman center Karl-Anthony Towns scored a game-high 19 points for the Wildcats including the go-ahead basket with 2:53 to go when he recovered his own miss, absorbed contact and laid the ball in.

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @JeffEisenberg

  • Archie Miller should be one of this spring's most coveted coaches

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    There's no need to wait until after the NCAA tournament to identify who the most coveted coach on the market will be this spring. 

    Dayton's Archie Miller has already secured that title by doing an even more remarkable job this season than he did last year when he led the Flyers to the Elite Eight.

    When Miller had to dismiss his only two big men in December, it left Dayton with only six scholarship players and nobody taller than 6-foot-6. The Flyers responded by vowing not to make any excuses, reinventing themselves on the fly and exceeding all expectations.

    Dayton's 75-59 rout of co-Atlantic 10 leader Rhode Island on Tuesday night moved the Flyers within one win of securing at least a share of their first conference title since joining the Atlantic 10 in the 1995-96 season. If Dayton (23-6, 13-4) wins at La Salle on Saturday, Davidson (21-6, 12-4) will have to win its final two games against VCU and at Duquesne just to forge a tie.      

    The secret to Dayton's success the past couple months has been finding ways to exploit its quickness advantage on offense without getting pummeled in the paint or on the glass defensively.

    - - - - - - -

  • Arkansas sent its entire team to watch its top recruit

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    When a college basketball coach wants to demonstrate a prospect is a priority, he'll occasionally show up to one of that player's games with all three assistants in tow as a message that there's no one else the staff values more.

    Arkansas coach Mike Anderson even topped that on Monday night. The entire Razorbacks team joined him at Fayetteville High School to watch elite class of 2016 prospect Malik Monk.

    The entire Razorback basketball team showed up to watch Malik Monk tonight. pic.twitter.com/IjQ9LRBYJG

    Every Arkansas player sat side-by-side in the first row of the bleachers for Bentonville High School's lone visit to Fayetteville this season. Monk led Bentonville with a game-high 26 points, but Fayetteville pulled a 72-59 upset in the regular season finale for both teams. 

    The recruiting ploy from Arkansas reflects Monk's stature as one of the most coveted prospects to come out of the state in the past decade.

    Video highlights of Malik Monk:

    - - - - - - -

  • Costly technical foul ignites massive Iowa State comeback

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    Oklahoma's Isaiah Cousins awakened the Cyclones from their game-long slumber with a technical foul that he now probably wishes he hadn't committed.

    When Oklahoma's Ryan Spangler swatted a shot by Georges Niang out of bounds with his team leading by 20 points five minutes into the second half, Cousins shouted something profane in the direction of the Iowa State bench. Referees assessed a technical foul on Cousins for abusive language, igniting an unfathomable run from the Cyclones that propelled them to a 77-70 victory.

    Iowa State scored on seven straight possessions immediately after the Cousins technical, stringing together stops and parlaying them into transition opportunities. The surge reached 22-0 when Dustin Hogue buried a corner 3-pointer to give the Cyclones their first lead of the game and 37-8 when Monte Morris sank a jumper to extend the advantage to nine with five minutes to go.  

    Iowa State's victory ensured Kansas will win at least a share of the Big 12 crown for an astonishing 11th straight season. The only league title streak longer than that of the Jayhawks in college basketball history belongs to UCLA, which captured 13 straight from 1967-79.