Jeff Eisenberg

  • Denzel Valentine stars in another Valentine's Day victory

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 hr ago

    On the holiday synonymous with his last name, Denzel Valentine delivered a performance that will spawn a thousand cliched headlines.

    The versatile Michigan State star led a gradual turnaround Sunday against Indiana from a first-half 10-point deficit to a one-sided 88-69 Spartans victory.

    Valentine showcased his trademark all-around game with confidence and ease, scoring 30 points, dishing out 13 assists and seldom letting any of Indiana's talented perimeter scorers get by him at the other end. The only reason Valentine did not record his third triple-double of the season was that he only managed to grab five rebounds.

    Between his scoring and assists, Valentine had a hand in 59 of the 88 points Michigan State scored against an Indiana team that began the day just a half game back of Iowa in the Big Ten standings. The senior was especially effective during the 40-14 surge the Spartans used to take control of a game the Hoosiers led for most of the first half.

    Izzo on Valentine's all-around game, ability to dominate. "I don't know anybody I've had who can do that as thoroughly as he does it."

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  • Bubble breakdown: Wisconsin caps win streak with massive upset

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 16 hrs ago

    It was only a month ago that Wisconsin was 9-9 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten after a humiliating loss at Northwestern. 

    Now the Badgers have reeled off seven straight victories to get back into position to not only make the NCAA tournament but perhaps contend for yet another top-four Big Ten finish.

    The most impressive win during Wisconsin's streak came Saturday when the Badgers went to Maryland and toppled the second-ranked Terps 70-57. Wisconsin survived foul trouble for center Ethan Happ thanks to 21 points from stretch forward Vitto Brown and 16 from point guard Bronson Koenig.

    Saturday's victory over Maryland adds to the Badgers' list of quality wins that already included Michigan State, Indiana, Syracuse, VCU and Temple. That list is offset by several damaging sub-100 RPI losses, most notably a season-opening loss to Western Illinois and December setbacks against Milwaukee and Marquette.

    If Wisconsin indeed makes the NCAA tournament, it will be a huge boost to interim coach Greg Gard's hopes of earning the full-time gig. The Badgers have improved considerably over the course of his tenure and now boast a top 50 offense and defense.

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  • Oregon's grip on the Pac-12 loosens after two-loss week

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 19 hrs ago

    In fact, by the time the weekend is over, the Ducks may not be alone in first place anymore.

    Two nights after wholly non-competitive 20-point loss at Cal, Oregon didn't show up for the first 35 minutes Saturday against a Stanford team that will need a late-season surge to reach the NIT. The Ducks rallied from an 11-point deficit to briefly tie the game, but their comeback stalled and they fell 76-72.

    Oregon was within one in the final minute when Dillon Brooks missed a jumper from the wing and Oregon sent Stanford's Marcus Allen to the foul line with 13 seconds to play. Allen split a pair of free throws, but Brooks again could not come through, this time because he didn't get a call when Stanford's Michael Humphrey blocked his difficult runner.

    Allen sank two free throws with three seconds remaining, sealing a Stanford win and narrowing Oregon's lead in the conference standings to just a half game. Arizona could tie the Ducks for first place on Sunday if the Wildcats are able to defeat USC at home.

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  • Devonte Graham leads Kansas to victory in rematch with Oklahoma

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    If Kansas goes on to capture its 12th consecutive conference title next month, the Jayhawks may declare Saturday's brilliant performance from Devonte Graham the turning point.

    The junior guard was indispensable throughout Kansas' 76-72 road victory at third-ranked Oklahoma in the rematch of their epic triple-overtime thriller from five weeks ago.

    Awarded the unenviable assignment of defending national player of the year favorite Buddy Hield, Graham shadowed the Oklahoma star relentlessly and held him without a first-half field goal. Hield caught fire from behind the arc midway through the second half, but Graham still chased him around every screen and made him work for each of his 24 points. 

    It would have been understandable if all the energy Graham expended on defense left him too fatigued to contribute offensively, but the Kansas guard was actually his team's top scoring threat. With Wayne Selden struggling through an off shooting night and Perry Ellis also quiet, Graham scored a career-high 27 points and sank six 3-pointers.

    A huge game from Graham on a big stage is the culmination of his rise from mid-major prospect to impact player at Kansas.

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  • Shaq Goodwin hits elbow slam, gets technical, celebrates anyway

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    For someone who had just been assessed a technical foul, Memphis forward Shaq Goodwin appeared to be awfully pleased with himself.

    He chest bumped one teammate and slapped hands with another during a loss to Tulane after channeling Vince Carter on a fast-break dunk.

    With Memphis trailing Tulane by three in the final minute of Saturday's first half, Goodwin poked the ball away from T.J. Oliver, found himself alone in the open floor and soared for Carter's trademark elbow dunk. It was a display of remarkable athleticism, but it also earned a technical foul from the referees for hanging on the rim.

    Goodwin's dunk will surely make the rounds on social media and all the highlight shows Saturday, but he doesn't deserve those accolades. This was a selfish, ill-advised decision from a senior who should know better.

    Memphis (14-10, 5-7) is in the midst of a disappointing season in which it had lost five of its previous seven games to put coach Josh Pastner's job in jeopardy. Worse yet, the Tigers were trailing a Tulane team that entered play Saturday just 2-10 in the American Athletic Conference.

  • John Calipari ejected less than three minutes into Saturday's win

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    The strangest part of the tantrum John Calipari threw Saturday are the circumstances that preceded it.

    It occurred less than three minutes into Kentucky's 89-62 victory and immediately after a foul was called on South Carolina. 

    When referees whistled Gamecocks forward Mindaugas Kacinas for an over-the-back foul as he fought for an offensive rebound, Calipari was subsequently hit with a technical foul. TV cameras did not catch the initial exchange between Calipari and referee Doug Sirmons, but it's possible the Kentucky coach was still upset about the lack of an over-the-back call on a previous possession when South Carolina's Michael Carrera scored a put-back.

    As soon as Calipari received his first technical, he approached Sirmons at the scorer's table and shouted at him nearly face-to-face, resulting in an ejection. Enraged and wild-eyed, Calipari had to be held back by guards Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe for several seconds before regaining his composure and exiting the floor as jeering South Carolina fans waved goodbye to him.

    Whether it was planned or not, Calipari's ejection certainly brought out the best in his team.

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  • Meet the unlikely guru to the NBA's All-Star dunkers

    Jeff Eisenberg at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    Two months before the 2014 NBA slam-dunk contest, Toronto Raptors wing Terrence Ross received a message from a guy he'd never met.

    A barrel-chested 30-year-old man who stood barely 6 feet was offering to help the NBA's reigning dunk champion defend his crown.

    Chuck Millan is the founder of Team Flight Brothers, a group of world-class dunkers who have gained a following uploading gravity-defying slams to YouTube and delivering jaw-dropping performances across the country. More than 100,000 YouTube users subscribe to their channel and millions of people have seen their videos.

    Luckily for Millan, Ross had watched Team Flight Brothers videos since he was in high school. The 6-foot-7 second-year pro enlisted Millan's help coming up with never-before-seen dunks tailored to his two-footed jumping style and teaching him how to execute those consistently enough for a contest setting.

    Word of Millan's expertise apparently spread quickly in NBA circles because he has become a guru to the contestants in the dunk contest the past couple years.

    More NBA coverage from The Vertical:

  • Indiana edges Iowa, showing it can handle step up in competition

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    Twelve days ago, Indiana tried its best to lose to woeful Minnesota. Three days later, the Hoosiers pounded NCAA tournament contender Michigan in Ann Arbor.   

    Five days ago, Indiana suffered a confidence-shaking loss at floundering Penn State. On Thursday night, the Hoosiers rebounded by toppling fourth-ranked Iowa.

    So who is the real Indiana?

    About all we can say for sure about the Hoosiers after Thursday night's 85-78 victory over the Hawkeyes is that their 10-2 Big Ten record isn't merely a product of a soft early conference schedule. They handled a step up in class with aplomb on Thursday night, enduring a furious Iowa rally from a 15-point first-half deficit and then executing better down the stretch to secure a big victory.

    Iowa was still within five with under a minute to go when Indiana forward Troy Williams split a double team off the dribble, pulled up and buried a jump shot that made it a three-possession game. The Hawkeyes never had the ball trailing by fewer than five after that.

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  • College basketball's All-time Starting Five: Georgetown Hoyas

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    With March Madness right around the corner, The Dagger is picking an all-time starting five from some of college basketball's most tradition-rich programs.

    Our picks were based on a variety of factors, including stats, tourney success, All-America selections, and of course, our opinions.

    First up: Georgetown Hoyas.

    Who was considered from Georgetown:

    1. Patrick Ewing, C, 1981-85 (15.3 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.4 bpg) 2. Alonzo Mourning, C, 1988-92 (16.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 3.8 bpg) 3. Allen Iverson, G, 1994-96 (23.0 ppg, 4.6 apg) 4. Eric "Sleepy" Floyd, G, 1978-82 (17.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg) 5. Reggie Williams, F, 1983-87 (15.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg) 6. Jeff Green, F, 2004-07 (13.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg) 7. John Duren, G 1976-80 (13.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg) 8. Mike Sweetney, F, 2000-03 (18.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg) 9. David Wingate, G, 1982-86 (12.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg) 10. Dikembe Mutombo, C, 1988-91 (9.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 3.7 bpg)

    Georgetown's All-time Starting Five

    G — Allen Iverson

    G — Eric "Sleepy" Floyd

    F — Reggie Williams

    C — Alonzo Mourning

    C — Patrick Ewing

  • Only fair solution to clock debacle is awarding Boise State a win

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    The Mountain West released a video Thursday afternoon that the league hoped would vindicate its officiating crew's disputed call to wipe out Boise State's game-winning 3-pointer the previous night.

    Needless to say, the video did not accomplish what the league thought it would.

    The video showed that the replay technology referees used to wave off James Webb's buzzer beater featured a clock mistakenly operating about twice the speed of the game clock at Moby Arena. That explains why referees determined that it took Webb 1.2 or 1.3 seconds to get his shot off when media outlets timed it at around six or seven tenths of a second.

    The play in question began with eight tenths of a second remaining in the first overtime period of a game Boise State eventually lost to Colorado State in double overtime. Webb caught an inbound pass with his momentum carrying him away from the basket yet banked in a tie-breaking 3-pointer that left his finger tips well before the clock struck triple zeroes, seemingly giving the Broncos a dramatic road victory.