Jeff Eisenberg

  • Albany hero Peter Hooley to deliver commencement speech

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    If the ideal commencement speaker should be both successful and inspiring, then the University of Albany is making a great choice.

    School officials called on junior guard Peter Hooley, the hero of the Great Danes' America East tournament title game victory over Stony Brook.

    Six weeks after his mother's death after a 4.5-year battle with colon cancer and four weeks after he returned from a period of bereavement in his native Australia, Hooley felled Stony Brook with a top-of-the-key three just before the buzzer sounded. The shot earned top-seeded Albany a one-point victory and propelled the Great Danes into the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season.

    Hooley's story attracted nationwide attention in March both because of his dramatic shot and his emotional and poignant reaction afterward. Tears flowed down his face as he knelt next to the scorer's table just after the final buzzer sounded.

     

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  • Elite recruit's commitment could be crucial for UNLV coach Dave Rice

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    When elite center Stephen Zimmerman announced Thursday night that he has chosen UNLV over the likes of Kentucky, UCLA and Kansas, his decision surely inspired a mixture of joy and relief from Rebels coach Dave Rice. 

    The presence of a skilled 7 footer can only help Rice entering a crucial year in which he will face pressure to finally achieve a breakthrough. 

    In Rice's four-year tenure at UNLV, he has stockpiled more talent than any Rebels coach since the program's golden era under Jerry Tarkanian. He has landed nine Rivals top 50 prospects, six in the past three recruiting classes with Zimmerman (No. 11) and wing Derrick Jones (No. 43) set to arrive next fall and forward Justin Jackson (No. 40) coming the following year.

    All that talent hasn't always translated into a return to the glory days just yet though. UNLV has yet to finish higher than third in the Mountain West under Rice, nor has it won an NCAA tournament game, falling in the opening round in both 2012 and 2013 before missing the postseason altogether the past two years.

    Video of new UNLV commit Stephen Zimmerman:

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  • Cayman Islands tournament could be a boost to the Mountain West

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    The recent success of the perennially loaded Battle 4 Atlantis tournament has spawned another holiday tournament in the same region. 

    Global Sports Management, in partnership with Caymax Sports LTD, announced Thursday it will hold a new eight-team tournament in the Cayman Islands beginning Nov. 2017. The Mountain West is sponsoring the Cayman Basketball Classic and will have a team in the field every year.

    How much partnering with this event will help the Mountain West depends on the quality of the field Global Sports Management annually attracts and what sort of TV deal gets negotiated.

    If power-conference programs flock to it and ESPN or another major network airs it, it could be a boost in exposure and strength of schedule for the Mountain West. If the event struggles to attract top teams or a prominent TV network, it could be more of a hassle than it's worth given the cross-country flight required for a Mountain West team to participate.

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  • Oakland University unveils new blacktop-esque floor

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Of the legion of college basketball programs who have tried to bolster their brand by installing distinctive new floors, only a few have actually managed to improve the look of their court.

    Count Oakland University among those.

    The new blacktop-style court that the Golden Grizzlies unveiled this week manages to successfully straddle the line between memorable and garish. All that's missing is a chain-link fence around the court and chains instead of nets.

    "It’s branding our program," Coach Greg Kampe told the Oakland Press. I know that when our games are on TV, no matter where you are in the country, when you turn that game on, you’re going to know it’s Oakland University immediately when you see the floor. I’m really excited about that.”

    Amazingly, Oakland isn't even the first Division I program to go with the blacktop-style look. Central Florida did it to mixed reviews two years ago.

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  • Loss of two stars leaves Arkansas poised for a fall next season

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Had either sophomore forward Bobby Portis or junior guard Michael Qualls returned to school, Arkansas had a good chance to sustain last season's success and compete for a second straight NCAA bid.

    Instead the Razorbacks appear poised to take a big step backward next season after losing both to the NBA draft on back-to-back days. 

    Qualls' announcement Wednesday evening that he will turn pro ensures Arkansas will lose four of its top five scorers from a 27-win team that finished second to Kentucky in the SEC and nearly toppled North Carolina in the NCAA tournament's round of 32. Qualls, Portis and seniors Rashad Madden and Alandise Harris accounted for 65.1 percent of Arkansas' scoring this past season and 58.9 percent of its rebounding.

    For Arkansas to weather that roster attrition and still remain an upper echelon SEC team, it will need returning guards Anthlon Bell and Anton Beard and talented but enigmatic big man Moses Kingsley to each make a substantial leap next season.

    The frustrating thing for Arkansas has to be how close it was to having a preseason top 20 team next fall.

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  • Why Trevor Lacey entering the draft isn't an illogical choice

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    NC State guard Trevor Lacey isn't likely to be selected in this June's NBA draft. He would be the centerpiece of a preseason top 20 Wolfpack team if he returned to school.

    So clearly Lacey made a bad decision Wednesday when he announced he was forgoing his final year of college eligibility and entering the draft, right? Well, not necessarily.

    Lacey will turn 24 in October, young by real-life standards but not for a pro basketball prospect. He'd be 25 by the start of his first professional season if he returned to NC State as a fifth-year senior making him as much as six years older than fellow draft prospects. 

    For Lacey, staying in school would mean forfeiting another year of earning potential, something that is a lot tougher to do as a 24-year-old than it is at 19 or 20. The window to make money playing pro basketball is only so long, and Lacey doesn't want to waste another year of it even if it means trying to fight his way onto an NBA roster as an undrafted free agent or heading overseas to play in Europe or Asia.

    One day they love you they next minute they hate you lol

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  • Houston will gamble on Oregon transfer Damyean Dotson

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Houston coach Kelvin Sampson needs to massively upgrade his program's talent level to compete in the American Athletic Conference. Houston native Damyean Dotson sought a school willing to offer a chance to resurrect his stalled career.

    As a result, it appears the second-year coach and Oregon transfer will form a partnership that can only be described as high-risk, high-reward.

    Houston announced Wednesday that it has signed Dotson just over a year after he and two teammates were at the center of a sexual assault investigation. No charges were filed in the case because authorities were skeptical they could prove the sex was nonconsensual, but Oregon still dismissed Dotson, fellow starter Dominic Artis and Providence transfer Brandon Austin last spring. 

    "He has learned from previous experiences in his life and has shown himself worthy of a second chance," Sampson said in a statement released Wednesday by the school. "I am certain that he will make the most of this opportunity."

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  • Tyus Jones' departure leaves Duke with a major hole to fill

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    The Duke team that takes the floor next November will bear little resemblance to the one that captured the national championship nine days ago in Indianapolis. 

    The Blue Devils will have to replace four starters who accounted for 71.4 percent of their points, 58.6 percent of their rebounds and 76.7 percent of their assists this past season.

    Point guard Tyus Jones became the third Duke freshman to leave the program Wednesday morning when he joined classmates Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow in declaring for the NBA draft. Senior guard Quinn Cook is the fourth starter leaving the Blue Devils.

    Whereas it was a foregone conclusion for weeks that Okafor and Winslow would enter the draft, it was less clear what Jones would do. The 6-foot-1 point guard will likely be selected in the first round because of his ability to knock down outside shots or get into the lane and set up shooters or big men, but concerns about his modest size, strength and lateral quickness will hurt his chances of cracking the lottery. 

    Jones' departure instantly makes point guard Duke's biggest question mark entering next season.

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  • Justise Winslow becomes second Duke freshman to enter the draft

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    The Duke freshman whose stock rose fastest during the Blue Devils' national championship run is poised to take advantage.

    Justise Winslow announced Tuesday he is forgoing his final three years of college eligibility and entering the NBA draft.

    "My family and I have decided that I should declare," Winslow said in a statement. "Considering the success and growth that I have experienced over this past year as a player and as a person, I believe it is time to take the next step on my career path and play at the highest level."

    The departure of Winslow has been nearly a foregone conclusion for weeks because of how brilliantly he has performed since late January when he replaced Amile Jefferson in Duke's starting lineup as an undersized power forward.

    One concern about Winslow is that he'll have to slide back to the wing in the NBA, meaning his quickness won't be such a mismatch for opposing defenders. His outside shot had also been considered a weakness entering the season, but he shot 41.8 percent from behind the arc for the season and 8 of 13 in the NCAA tournament, repeatedly punishing opposing defenders who helped off him or played him to drive.

  • Coaching change may cost VCU its entire recruiting class

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    When Shaka Smart left for Texas earlier this month, VCU may have lost more than just the most successful coach in program history.

    The Rams also could have to say goodbye to all three members of Smart's final recruiting class.

    Tevin Mack, Rivals.com's No. 78 recruit in the class of 2015, has received a release from his letter of intent, ESPN.com reported Tuesday. The 6-foot-6 small forward originally chose VCU in November over UConn, South Carolina and Georgia.

    Mack's decision comes less than a week after fellow Rivals 150 prospects Kenny Williams and Jordan Murphy also received releases from their letters of intent to VCU. Williams, a sweet-shooting 6-foot-2 guard from Virginia, initially chose the Rams over North Carolina. Murphy, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Texas, had previously considered UNLV.

    Rivals.com video of Tevin Mack:

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