Jeff Eisenberg

  • Another loss has injury-plagued Wichita State in a tough spot

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 hrs ago

    It's still only November, yet Wichita State is already in big trouble.

    The Shockers are running out of opportunities to amass the quality wins they'll need to land an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

    Shorthanded as a result of injuries to star point guard Fred VanVleet, key backup Landry Shamet and top big man Anton Grady, Wichita State fell 84-62 to Iowa on Sunday, sealing a last-place finish at the Advocare Invitational in Orlando. The preseason top 10 Shockers are now 2-4 overall after previous losses to Tulsa, USC and Alabama.  

    Other programs from stronger conferences can overcome a poor start by stacking quality wins during league play, but Wichita State doesn't have that luxury. The Shockers have to get most of their marquee victories in November and December because the Missouri Valley Conference seldom produces more than one or two NCAA tournament-caliber teams. 

    A combination of injuries and a lack of depth has been Wichita State's undoing so far this season. Standout guard Ron Baker has been forced to do far too much because the Shockers simply don't have enough guys around him that can generate offense. 

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  • Arizona's first loss should serve as an early reality check

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    FULLERTON, Calif. — In the aftermath of a 69-65 loss to an unranked Providence team whose best player spent half the game on the bench in foul trouble, Arizona coach Sean Miller made a startling yet telling statement.

    "I leave this game feeling very, very good about our team’s effort," Miller said.

    Comments like that from Miller are his way of tacitly acknowledging that this Arizona team does not have the talent that previous editions have boasted. Those Wildcats coasted on occasion yet still captured back-to-back Pac-12 titles. These Wildcats can dive for every loose ball, scrap for every rebound and still lose to an unheralded opponent.

    Their best player is a skilled but undersized power forward unlikely to make the NBA. Their defensive stopper is a junior guard who could scarcely crack the rotation the past two years. One of their point guards is a junior college transfer who's more of a scorer than a distributor and the other is a deft passer but stands just 5-foot-8.

    This Arizona team doesn't have the sky-high ceiling of the previous two, but there's certainly room for growth.

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  • Wayne Selden's resurgence sparks Kansas to Maui title

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    The Wayne Selden who tantalized Kansas with his assertiveness and efficiency this past summer resurfaced Wednesday night in Maui. 

    The mercurial 6-foot-5 junior torched Vanderbilt for 25 points on only 11 shots, more than enough to lead the Jayhawks to a 70-63 victory over the Commodores in the Maui Invitational title game.

    Selden's performance capped a brilliant three days in Maui in which he showcased a lethal 3-point stroke and the ability to attack the rim. He averaged 19.3 points per game, sank 12 of 17 attempts from behind the arc and got to the foul line 12 times, exactly the sort of numbers Kansas coach Bill Self has been waiting for him to put up with regularity for the past two years.

    A former top 20 prospect heralded for his size, athleticism and scoring prowess, Selden played in Andrew Wiggins' shadow as a freshman and failed to produce the breakout sophomore season many projected from him last year. He averaged slightly fewer points than he had as a freshman, shooting a pedestrian 36 percent from behind the arc while consistently struggling to finish in traffic in the paint. 

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  • The NCAA finally frees prized Kansas freshman Cheick Diallo

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Kansas fans have chanted "Free Diallo" throughout this week's Maui Invitational.

    Soon, they will get their wish.

    The NCAA concluded a lengthy investigation into Kansas freshman Cheick Diallo's eligibility on Wednesday with the announcement that the McDonald's All-American forward will be eligible to play for the Jayhawks starting against Loyola (Md.) on Dec. 1. Kansas' matchup with Vanderbilt in the Maui Invitational title game on Wednesday night will be the last game Diallo will sit out.  

    “Our goal is to have eligibility decisions made prior to the start of a student-athlete’s season,” Oliver Luck, NCAA executive vice president of regulatory affairs, said in a statement. “However, this was a complicated case involving international transcripts and a high school that remains under review. Additionally, staff considered a complex set of circumstances regarding amateurism.”

    As for the amateurism aspect, the NCAA ruled that Diallo received a limited amount of extra benefits and will not be eligible for five games. The Maui Invitational title game is the last of those five contests.

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  • Utah State denies transfer permission to speak with any other schools

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    When he blindsided the Utah State basketball team earlier this month by quitting two days before its season opener, forward David Collette quickly learned a hard lesson.

    College coaches seldom accept rejection gracefully.

    Utah State officials informed Collette on Monday that they are denying his request for a release granting him and his family permission to speak with other schools. The restriction makes it difficult for Collette to transfer to another Division I program because coaches cannot communicate with him or his family without violating NCAA rules.

    Collette can still enroll at another institution and then initiate contact with the basketball program, but he'd have to pay tuition on his own for the first two semesters. Cobbling together that kind of money would be no easy feat for a college sophomore married to another full-time student.

    The timing of Collette's decision to transfer is Utah State's primary frustration. It left the Aggies almost no time to find a replacement for a 6-foot-10 forward who earned third-team all-conference honors as a redshirt freshman last season after averaging 12.8 points and 5.0 rebounds.

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  • Troy Williams' mom is not happy with Indiana coach Tom Crean

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    Only hours after his team's upset loss to Wake Forest in the opening round of the Maui Invitational, Tom Crean's week in paradise somehow got worse.

    Indiana forward Troy Williams' mother — or someone with access to her account — wrote on Facebook on Tuesday that it was time to get her son "the F--- OUT OF IU!!" after Crean benched him against St. John's. The full post is in the link below, but warning the language is explicit. 

    This from Troy Williams apologies for the fbomb

    Patty Williams quickly apologized with the following tweet: "I sincerely am sorry for my rude words! Please everyone involved don't take my anger out on my son. Thank you. I love him too hard I know." She has since turned her Twitter account to private.

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  • Concussed guard sinks 3-pointer while still dazed and wobbly

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    His head throbbing, legs wobbly and eyes flickering, Trace Dimeff struggled to stand.

    The Central Arizona College guard had just taken a violent knee to the jaw Saturday night while diving for a loose ball, but he refused to remain flat on his back on the floor with his team down five late in overtime. Dimeff instead staggered to his feet, lurched to the left corner and buried maybe the most improbable shot of the college basketball season thus far. 

    When you lowkey got a mild concussion but ball is still life & you gotta hit the clutch corner three w 5 secs left

    "I don't know what my teammate was thinking, but he passed me the ball," Dimeff told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday. "I didn't even see the shot go in honestly. I started falling down right after I shot it, but I heard everyone start yelling. I think it was all muscle memory."

    Dimeff isn't sure why referees didn't stop the game when he was writhing on the court. His memory of the shot is hazy, so he had no idea how frightening it looked until he and his teammates cued up the game film on a laptop on Monday morning.

  • Illinois needs buzzer beater to avoid a fourth early loss

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 5 days ago

    As Illinois players spilled onto the court in celebration of Jalen Coleman-Lands game-winning 3-pointer on Monday night, embattled Illini coach John Groce could only muster a relieved smile. 

    Groce knew the Illini never should have needed last-second heroics to eke out an 82-79 victory over lowly Chicago State.

    The shrewdly designed, well-executed play to free Coleman-Lands was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal Illinois performance. Inbound passer Malcolm Hill got the ball back via a handoff at the foul line, sped up court and fed a wide-open Coleman-Lands spotted up in the corner for a game-winning shot that beat the buzzer by no more than a couple tenths of a second.

    Coleman-Lands' shot ensured Illinois would not start the season 1-4 for the first time since before the Cubs last won the World Series.The Illini (2-3) already lost a tough one-point heartbreaker to Providence and fell at home against North Florida and Chattanooga.

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  • Indiana's defensive issues resurface in alarming upset loss

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 5 days ago

    Any improvement Indiana showed defensively in its first three games may have been a mirage. 

    The Hoosiers suffered a surprising 82-78 loss in the Maui Invitational quarterfinals on Monday because they couldn't come up with stops when they needed them. 

    A rebuilding Wake Forest team playing without last season's leading scorer exploited Indiana's defensive shortcomings with alarming ease. The Demon Deacons shot 50.7 percent because the Hoosiers couldn't stop dribble penetration, closed out on shooters too slowly and failed to adequately control the defensive glass or protect the rim. 

    Especially alarming were the issues prized freshman big man Thomas Bryant experienced moving laterally and defending ball screens. In the first half, perimeter-oriented Konstantinos Mitoglou gave him a ton of problems. In the second half,  Wake Forest attacked him relentlessly off the dribble, especially in the final minute as the Demon Deacons clawed their way back from a late nine-point deficit.

    Thanks to a potent offense with shooters and playmakers all over the floor, Indiana doesn't need to be an elite defensive team to meet its goals this season.

  • Miami won't be overlooked any longer after its Puerto Rico dominance

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 6 days ago

    Before boarding a flight for Puerto Rico a few days ago, Miami coach Jim Larranaga solidified his program's future by securing commitments from a pair of 2016 Rivals top 50 prospects.

    Then the Hurricanes arrived at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and proved their current team is worthy of excitement too. 

    They annihilated Mississippi State by 26 points in Thursday's opening round. They demolished 16th-ranked Utah by 24 in Friday semifinals. They roared to a 19-point first-half lead over 22nd-ranked Butler in Sunday's championship game before withstanding a late surge from the Bulldogs and emerging with an 85-75 victory.

    Three emphatic wins in Puerto Rico suggest that Miami may have been one of the nation's most underrated teams entering the new season. Not only have the unbeaten Hurricanes accomplished enough to deserve a spot in the AP Top 25 when it's released anew Monday morning, it would also be a travesty if they don't debut somewhere in the top 15.

    Three years ago, a veteran-laden Miami team won 29 games, captured the ACC regular season title and advanced to the Sweet 16.

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