The Dagger

  • College basketball: Young Monmouth fan sends letters to NBA teams asking them to draft Justin Robinson

    Tyler Greenawalt at The Dagger 4 hrs ago

    The leap to the NBA could be difficult for Monmouth’s Justin Robinson, but not if one 11-year-old Hawks fan has anything to say about it.

    Erica Schaeffer sent letters to all 30 NBA teams after her father, Eric, told her Robinson could begin his professional career playing overseas, according to the Asbury Park Press.

    “My dad was telling me that Justin may go overseas,’’ Schaeffer said, “so that made me think that I would try to help Justin stay here because I want to see him play again. And just meeting him and how he’s so nice, I wanted to see him play here and become an NBA player.I just wanted to tell the teams how nice he is as a person and how good he is as a player and how he can change their team.”

    Great lesson in fandom, as Point Pleasant girl touts Monmouth’s Justin Robinson to NBA GMs. And they’re listening!

    So, at the very least, Schaeffer put Robinson squarely back on the radar of a few NBA GMs.

  • How late growth spurts spawned some of college basketball's most talented big men

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 5 hrs ago

    Just two years before he began tearing up college basketball, two years before he became the leading scorer on a national championship contender, and two years before he appeared in NBA mock drafts as a potential lottery pick, TJ Leaf could barely walk.

    He wasn’t injured in the traditional sense. There was no one play that caused him to hobble, no anguished howl on the court hours earlier. But as he trudged out of the gym, Leaf was in pain.

    “After every game, after every practice, it was almost just hard to walk back to the car,” he recalls on a recent Monday afternoon. “Sophomore, junior year, it was terrible.”

    In between games during the middle years of his high school career, Leaf sometimes wasn’t even able to practice. He’d sit off to the side with ice bags on both knees. At times, his mind would race, and perhaps even wander toward self-pity. He’d wonder: Why can’t I just be able to go work out? Why can’t I be able to go play pickup right now?

    At the time, the 6-foot-10, 17-year-old Leaf hadn’t been 6-foot-10 for long.

    “It sucked for a while,” he says matter-of-factly.

    “Now,” he says of the growth spurt, “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”


    Patton couldn’t lift 185.


  • Our writers make their picks for college basketball's Player of the Year

    Yahoo Sports Staff at The Dagger 8 hrs ago

    There’s typically some clarity to the national player of the year race by the final week of the regular season, but that’s not the case this year.

    As the calendar turns to college basketball’s most important month, you can reasonably make a case for a handful of guys, each of whom have been instrumental to leading their teams into national title contention.

    With Selection Sunday only 11 days away, we asked four of our college basketball writers to give their Player of the Year picks so far. A consensus emerged regarding who the leading candidates are but not the order in which they should be ranked.


    I hated this list as soon as I finished it, because I had to leave off the entire Atlantic Coast Conference and Oklahoma State’s Jawun Evans, and neither of those things feels right. However, the assignment was a top five, so there will be notable omissions.

    By now, Kansas fans have to believe they’re always going to win, because Frank Mason is always going to find a way.

    [Tourney Pick’em is open! Sign up now | Bracket Big Board]




  • Monte Morris caps brilliant yet underappreciated Iowa State career with senior night win

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 16 hrs ago

    Iowa State desperately needed a bucket. It desperately needed something — something to halt Oklahoma State’s charge.

    The Cowboys had roared back from a 10-point deficit on senior night at Hilton Coliseum, and with the Cyclones clutching to a two-point lead with just over a minute remaining, they needed somebody to make a play. So they turned to the guy who has made plays for them without fail for four years, in 134 games, in 96 wins, in forgotten non-conference contests and Big 12 championships, in first halves and second halves, in this arena and elsewhere.

    They turned to Monte Morris.

    Then they turned to Monte Morris again.

    And again.

    First Morris got them that bucket to extend the lead to four. With it back down at two and Hilton again silenced, he bolted to the baseline to track down an offensive rebound. Falling out of bounds, he rifled it back toward the court, and to a teammate with 21 seconds to play.

    He’s appreciated plenty in Ames. He’s appreciated for his two Big 12 tournament titles, soon-to-be four NCAA tournament appearances, and much, much more. His senior night speech, and the reception it got, was evidence of that.

  • Young fan climbs into hoop to rescue a stuck basketball in Boise-Fresno State game

    Malika Andrews at The Dagger 16 hrs ago

    “MVP” chants erupted from the crowd 15 minutes into Boise State’s home game against Fresno State on Tuesday night. But the chant wasn’t for any of the players; it was for a little boy.

    With four minutes left in the first half, the basketball was deflected off of Boise player Justinian Jessup and got caught up behind the basket. Despite efforts from some of the taller players holding mops, no one was able to poke the ball loose.

    When nothing worked, a player decided to grab a young fan that was sitting courtside and hoist him up so he could climb up behind the basket and grab the stuck ball.

    The boy was high-fived and was considered a hero, at least for the night.

    This. Just. Happened. #SCTop10 #GoDogs #mwbb

    — Fresno State MBB (@FresnoStateMBB) March 1, 2017


  • Frank Jackson offers glimpse of his potential in victory over Florida State

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 18 hrs ago

    With Grayson Allen hampered by a lingering ankle injury, freshman Frank Jackson started in his place on Tuesday night.

    Needless to say, Jackson took advantage.

    Displaying the scoring prowess that helped him become a McDonald’s All-American in high school, Jackson led 17th-ranked Duke to a 75-70 victory over 15th-ranked Florida State. Thirteen of Jackson’s game-high 22 points came in the opening five minutes of the second half, helping the Blue Devils extend an 11-point halftime lead to 19.

    What was especially impressive about Jackson’s scoring barrage is that he did it in multiple ways. Not only did he knock down a trio of 3-pointers, he also put pressure on the Florida State defense by attacking the rim off the dribble.

    Jackson’s season-best scoring night helped elevate Duke into a fourth-place tie with Florida State in the ACC. A league title is out of reach for the former preseason No. 1 team, but the Blue Devils could still nab a double bye in the ACC tournament if they complete a season sweep of North Carolina on Saturday night in Chapel Hill.

    Regardless of how it turns out, Tuesday night provided a glimpse of Jackson’s lethal scoring prowess.

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  • Did Xavier Rathan-Mayes get tripping revenge on Grayson Allen? (Video)

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 19 hrs ago

    Xavier Rathan-Mayes was the second victim of a Grayson Allen trip last season. Ever since, he’s wanted revenge. He more or less admitted as much after Florida State’s 88-72 win over Duke earlier this season.

    “This one was personal for me,” Rathan-Mayes said postgame. “Ever since he did that, I’ve been waiting a long time to see him again. It was good to finally see him again.”

    Rathan-Mayes got the better of Allen that evening on the court. That was probably all the revenge he needed. But during the second meeting between the two teams this season on Tuesday night…

    So, Grayson Allen fake-tripped himself. Good catch by ESPN. #Duke

    — Daniel Beyer (@danbeyeronfox) March 1, 2017

    Is that a revenge trip!?!?

    Maybe. Maybe not. It’s really tough to tell if there is any intent. And Allen, as some Seminole fans will surely note, is known for his theatrical falls.

  • Kentucky's Derek Willis proposes to girlfriend during senior night ceremony (Video)

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 19 hrs ago

    The last week of college basketball season is always a special one for outgoing seniors. In this case, it was an extra special one for Kentucky’s Derek Willis.

    Willis dropped to one knee and popped the question Tuesday night before Kentucky’s 73-67 victory on senior night at Rupp Arena.

    Derek Willis with the Senior Night proposal!

    — Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) March 1, 2017

    Big Blue Nation went wild and Kentucky coach John Calipari applauded right along with the crowd as he watched from the sideline a few feet away. And indeed, Willis’ girlfriend said yes. Here’s another video angle that captures more of the crowd:


    — Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) March 1, 2017

    Credit Willis for regaining his focus after his proposal and helping make his senior night even better.



  • Warren Buffett offers a yearly $1 million dollar prize to any Berkshire Hathaway employee that correctly picks Sweet 16

    Malika Andrews at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Berkshire Hathaway’s 367,700 employees have some incentive to fill out the company’s 2017 March Madness bracket. Berkshire CEO and chairman, Warren Buffett, will be awarding $1 million dollars to an employee if he or she can correctly select the teams that compete in the Sweet 16.

    In an interview on Monday with CNBC, Buffett said that if only one employee gets the Sweet 16 picks right, he or she will get the million-dollar prize every year for the rest of their life.

    And if no one wins, he will award $100,000 to whoever gets the closest.

    The big cash contest originated in 2014 when the CEO partnered with Quicken Loans and Yahoo to offer up $1 billion to anyone who correctly guessed all 64 teams. That competition, which was open to the public, was dismantled after the companies got into a legal battle over whose idea the contest was.

    In 2015, the competition in its current Bershire employee format was introduced. Last year’s contest had 85,000 entries and Buffett says that this year, he anticipates over 100,000 entries.

    Fans can follow the contest on the Berkshire website to see how employees fair once the tournament begins.


  • FIve storylines to watch during week one of conference tournament play

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    While college basketball’s marquee conference tournaments don’t begin until next week, the undercard is already underway. The Atlantic Sun was the first of 13 conferences whose tournaments tip off this week.

    Below is a look at the five biggest storylines from week one of conference tournament action:

    1. Will Alec Peters be healthy enough to lead Valparaiso? 

    One of the great stories from this past summer was the loyalty Peters showed to Valparaiso. The heralded 6-foot-9 forward chose to stay with the Crusaders even after coach Bryce Drew left for Vanderbilt and dozens of high-major programs reached out through back channels urging him to consider leaving as a graduate transfer.

    For months, it appeared Peters’ loyalty would be rewarded. He averaged 23 points and 10.1 boards to play his way into contention to be a first-round draft pick and to lead Valparaiso into position to win the Horizon League title. But then Peters suffered an unspecified lower leg injury that sidelined him for the Crusaders’ final two regular season games and has since thrown his availability for the Horizon League tournament into question.

    3. Can BYU build off its upset of Gonzaga? 

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