Jeff Eisenberg

  • What to watch this weekend: Duke-Virginia highlights strong slate

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 hr ago

    Football isn't the only thing to watch this weekend. The clash between desperate Duke and unbeaten Virginia highlights a strong slate of college hoops that also includes a first-place showdown in the Valley and another matchup of ACC contenders:

    Other notable games to watch:

    Auburn at Tennessee (Saturday, 12 p.m. EST): Bruce Pearl's return to Knoxville would have been a big story no matter what, but it's more momentous because of the NCAA trouble that has engulfed current Vols coach Donnie Tyndall. Tennessee will have to decide this offseason if it's concerned enough about what happened under Tyndall's watch at Southern Miss to make yet another coaching change.

    Arkansas at Florida (Saturday, 1 p.m.): An Arkansas team team that has won three straight games by five or fewer points meets a hard-luck Florida team that has lost six games by six or fewer points. At 11-9 overall and 4-3 in the SEC, the Gators have little margin for error if they hope to get back into NCAA tournament contention.

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  • UMass guard Trey Davis 'OK' after being flattened by a screen

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 18 hrs ago

    The hardest hit of the week may not come on Super Sunday.

    UMass guard Trey Davis endured a bone-rattling collision Thursday night rivaling anything the Seahawks or Patriots will unleash on one-another in Arizona.

    A Dayton player blindsided Davis with a crushing screen as he was running full speed in pursuit of Flyers point guard Scoochie Smith late in UMass' 66-64 victory. The screen flattened Davis and left him writhing on the ground for several minutes, though it appears he escaped serious injury. 

    "He's OK," UMass coach Derrick Kellogg told reporters in Amherst after the game. "Well, he says he's OK. We'll see how he is for Saturday."

    UMass students were livid that referees did not assess a foul on Dayton, but they probably should have saved their derogatory chants for the four Minutemen on the floor who failed to call out the screen. Replays showed the screener did not move and the pick was hard but legal.

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  • Dismissing Rasheed Sulaimon further weakens Duke's defense

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 23 hrs ago

    Already in jeopardy of falling out of ACC title contention before Valentine's Day, Duke also lost a key member of its rotation Thursday.

    Coach Mike Krzyzewski announced he has dismissed guard Rasheed Sulaimon from the program for being "unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program." Sulaimon remains in good academic standing at Duke and is expected to finish the spring semester.

    “It is a privilege to represent Duke University and with that privilege comes the responsibility to conduct oneself in a certain manner," Krzyzewski said in a strongly worded statement. "After Rasheed repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations, it became apparent that it was time to dismiss him from the program.”

    The abrupt dismissal of Sulaimon ends the Duke career of a player whose freshman season portended so much promise but whose ensuing two seasons with the Blue Devils proved to be a letdown. Sulaimon averaged 11.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game as a freshman, but his playing time and production diminished as other talented wings eclipsed him in Duke's rotation.

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  • Inbound pass off foe's backside sets up game-winning layup

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Instead of running whatever Lafayette women's coach Dianne Nolan drew up in the huddle Wednesday night with the score tied and 25 seconds to play, junior Jamie O'Hare took the risk of freelancing.

    O'Hare noticed the Colgate player guarding the inbound pass had her back turned, so she threw the ball off the defender's butt, hopped onto the court and scored a reverse layup that turned out to be the winning basket in her team's 58-56 victory. 

    "I've done it before, but not to win a game," O'Hare told the Allentown Morning Call. "It was pretty risky, but I couldn't help myself."

    The daring play from O'Hare indeed occurs from time to time in college basketball, but seldom does a player have the guts to try it with the game on the line in the final minute. O'Hare executed her attempt perfectly, though she cut it close as to whether she fully reestablished herself inbounds before securing possession of the ball in order to lay it in. 

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  • How Tyler Harvey went from zero scholarships to nation's top scorer

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    The biggest recruiting coup of Jim Hayford's career wasn't a result of shrewd talent evaluation at a grassroots tournament or timely advice from a trustworthy high school coach.

    It came via a tip from an airplane seatmate.

    One year before Hayford left Division III titan Whitworth College for Division I lightweight Eastern Washington in 2011, he bumped into longtime referee Frank Harvey as they boarded the same flight out of Spokane. Harvey eventually asked Hayford if he'd consider watching game film of his son, a late-blooming guard with a smooth jump shot but no scholarship offers. Hayford politely agreed as a favor to a longtime friend even if he wasn't optimistic it would be worth his time.

    "You don't last long going on other people's opinions — especially not a father's opinion of his own son," Hayford said. "But once I saw him, I was pleasantly surprised by his ability to drive and to shoot. I said, 'This kid's going to be pretty good.'"

    It's a testament to Harvey's passion for basketball that he didn't give up the sport years ago.

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  • Jerian Grant's late-game heroics propel Notre Dame past Duke

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    At the end of his team's come-from-behind win over fourth-ranked Duke on Wednesday night, Notre Dame star Jerian Grant turned toward the student section and encouraged them to return to their seats instead of storming the floor.

    Against all odds, they listened, which is as remarkable as any of the amazing late-game plays Grant made moments earlier to help seal a 77-73 victory. 

    In a game in which the opposing team boasted nine McDonald's All-Americans and national player of the year favorite Jahlil Okafor, Grant was undeniably the best player on the floor. He scored a game-high 23 points, dished out a season-high 12 assists and made the game's three biggest plays after the eighth-ranked Irish had rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to get within striking distance.

    That shot might have clinched it for Notre Dame, but Grant made sure at the other end. He swatted away Cook's driving layup attempt, securing a marquee victory for an Irish team that should not fly under the radar as a national contender any longer now that it's 20-2 overall and 8-1 in the rugged ACC.

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  • Michigan offers glimmer of hope it may yet salvage its season

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    Admit it. You thought Michigan was toast after Caris LeVert's season-ending foot injury earlier this month, right? I know I certainly did.

    This was a player who led Michigan in nearly every major statistical category, from scoring (14.9 ppg), to rebounding (4.9 rpg), to assists (3.7 apg), to steals (1.8 spg). And this was a Wolverines team that hadn't even been all that good with LeVert, having dropped six non-league games and left themselves ample work to do in Big Ten play just to get within sight of the NCAA tournament bubble.

    Michigan has shown in its first three games without LeVert that it still has a pulse even without its best player. The injury-plagued Wolverines won at Rutgers last week, took Big Ten favorite Wisconsin to overtime on Saturday and throttled previously surging Nebraska on Tuesday night despite also losing starting point guard Derrick Walton to a lingering toe injury.

    Michigan's formula for success in recent weeks is the antithesis of what it was in recent years under Beilein.

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  • Two Oklahoma State players combine for an ugly alley-oop try

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    Oklahoma State's Jeff Newberry is a high-flying 6-foot-2 point guard who was among the nation's most coveted junior college prospects last year.

    Somehow teammate LeBryan Nash made Newberry look as clumsy as me trying to finish an alley-oop with a pass that was well off target.

    Nash's alley-oop pass was too low and led Newberry too far under the basket during the second half of Oklahoma State's 64-53 victory over No. 20 Baylor on Tuesday night. As a result, Newberry got stuffed by the underside of the rim as he tried to finish the play.

    Newberry enjoyed an otherwise decent game against Baylor, posting 10 points, four rebounds and two steals off the bench. He also had a nice two-handed baseline slam when he beat his man off the dribble earlier in the second half.

    The botched alley-oop is probably the play that will get the most attention though. Marcus Smart to Markel Brown, it was not.

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  • Dorian Finney-Smith saves Florida with dunk, clinching block

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    The only basket Dorian Finney-Smith scored Tuesday night will be replayed over and over on highlight shows the next 24 hours. 

    With Florida and Alabama tied 50 apiece and less than 30 seconds remaining, Finney-Smith caught a pass on the left wing, shot-faked and blew by 6-foot-10 defender Jimmie Taylor. Six-foot-9 Michael Kessens was late arriving for help defense at the rim, so Finney-Smith took advantage, soaring for a picture-perfect one handed slam dunk.

    Alabama still had one last chance to force overtime or win in regulation, but Finney-Smith erased that as well. He swatted away Levi Randolph's attempt at a game-tying layup, corralled the rebound before the ball went out of bounds and held onto it until time expired, sealing a badly needed 52-50 Gators victory in Tuscaloosa. 

    The heroics of Finney-Smith are a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing Florida season. The Gators (11-9, 4-3) began the year ranked in the preseason top 10 but failed to notch even one relevant non-league victory and have further hit the skids in SEC play, suffering three straight losses prior to Tuesday's critical win.

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  • VCU routs George Washington to cement itself as A-10 favorite

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    In Shaka Smart's first five seasons as head coach at VCU, the Rams have won 26 or more games every year, made the NCAA tournament four times and even advanced to the school's only Final Four. 

    The one thing Smart curiously hasn't accomplished is winning a league title.

    VCU took a step toward checking that off Smart's list Tuesday night by demolishing arguably its biggest competition to win the Atlantic 10 this season. One of the Rams' most dominant defensive efforts of the season carried them to a 72-48 rout of a George Washington team that entered the game only a half game out of first place.

    Swarming full-court pressure defense harassed George Washington into 16 turnovers, but that wasn't what led to the Colonials' demise. They also couldn't score even when they did get across half court, shooting only 26.9 percent from the field, getting almost nothing out of their frontcourt and missing all but one of the 17 threes they attempted. Guards Kethan Savage and Joe McDonald were able to get to the foul line with consistency, but George Washington finished with more turnovers than field goals.   

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