The Dagger

  • For prospective coaches, the NC State job promises pressure, potential

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 5 hrs ago

    When NC State announced it was firing Mark Gottfried on Thursday night, that decision drudged up a familiar but polarizing question.

    Just how attractive is the job that will become vacant at the end of the season?

    One side argues that NC State has unrealistic expectations if it’s firing a coach who reached the NCAA tournament four times in six years. The other scoffs at that surface-level assessment and insists that a deeper examination of the Wolfpack reveals an undisciplined, underachieving program in need of an overhaul.

    So which side is correct? Oddly, it might be both.

    Despite Gottfried’s four NCAA bids and two Sweet 16 appearances in six seasons, NC State had ample reason to fire him. The Wolfpack went 47-55 in league play during his tenure and failed to consistently play up to their talent level even in his best seasons, twice sneaking into the NCAA tournament as one of the last teams selected.

    – – – – – – –

    Follow @JeffEisenberg

  • Interpretive Dance: North Carolina making case for a No. 1

    Brad Evans at The Dagger 9 hrs ago

    Still recuperating from your midweek bar crawl? Are you nostril deep in term paper research? Have no fear, fellow bracketeers. As a companion to the Bracket Big Board, the I.D. is here to highlight what teams are gaining and what teams are losing ground in the march toward the NCAA Tournament.  

    DA BULLS (Moving Up)

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

    DA BEARS (Moving Down)

    DA BUBBLE (Living in limbo)

    Providence Friars (16-11; KenPom: 58 SOS: 37)  – On the peripheral only days ago, the Friars are knocking at the door of a potential at-large bid, despite their 6-8 record in the rugged Big East. Wins at Marquette and at home versus Butler and Xavier have them on the proper path. Providence’s three RPI top-50 wins are equal to expected at-larges Cincinnati, Northwestern, Oklahoma St. and Iowa St. Missteps against Boston College, DePaul and St. John’s are black eyes, but win their last four and Rodney Bullock and friends may dance.

  • Bubble breakdown: Missed opportunities abound in the ACC

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 11 hrs ago

    Three weeks and one day before the NCAA men’s basketball selection committee reveals its 68-team field for the 2017 NCAA tournament, no conference in America houses more intriguing candidates for that 68-team field than the ACC.

    And at around 1:45 ET on Saturday afternoon, three of those candidates were immersed in battles — battles that, if they were to end victoriously, could have drastically changed the discussions the committee will have on Selection Sunday. Clemson trailed Miami by two late in the second half in Coral Gables. Wake Forest was knotted up with Duke at halftime in Durham. Virginia Tech led Louisville by one on the road.

    The Tigers and Demon Deacons in particular have two of the trickiest résumés in college basketball, in part because both had been in similar situations before, and in part because on almost all those occasions, both had come up short. Clemson had been within a few possessions of potential tournament teams in the second halves of eight other conference games; they had lost seven of them. Wake had taken this same Duke team to the wire in Winston-Salem three weeks prior; but it had coughed up a double-digit lead.

  • The wildest three-quarters-court heave of the season didn't actually count

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 13 hrs ago

    The most remarkable shot of the weekend won’t show up in a box score.

    With his team leading host Detroit by eight in the closing seconds of the first half on Sunday afternoon, Valparaiso guard Micah Bradford hoisted a three-quarters-court heave just before time expired. The ball hit the edge of the shot clock, caromed high in the air and somehow, someway fell through the rim.

    This shot didn't count … but WHAT? How? ???? pic.twitter.com/i7ZfPY8t25

    — ESPN College BBall (@ESPNCBB) February 19, 2017

    Referees were correct to waive off the basket even though it appears Bradford got the shot off in time. The shot clock is considered out of bounds, meaning that the play was over as soon as the ball made contact with it.

    In reality, Valparaiso didn’t need the basket anyway. The Crusaders cruised to an 83-63 road victory to maintain sole possession of first place in the Horizon League, 1.5 games ahead of second-place Oakland.

    – – – – – – –

    Follow @JeffEisenberg

  • Wisconsin overcomes Ethan Happ's foul trouble to get badly needed win

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 14 hrs ago

    Nine minutes remained in his team’s biggest game of the season so far, and Wisconsin coach Greg Gard couldn’t hide his frustration.

    Just when it seemed the Badgers were about to pull away from fellow Big Ten title contender Maryland, star center Ethan Happ needlessly picked up his fourth foul swiping at the ball more than 25 feet away from the basket.

    When Gard pulled Happ out of the game to avoid him picking up a fifth foul, Wisconsin was clinging to a seven-point lead. By the time the Happ returned to the floor nearly six minutes later, the Badgers had increased their lead to 12 and were well on their way to an impressive 71-60 victory.

    That crunch-time stretch without Happ was the biggest key to a Wisconsin victory that halted a two-game losing streak and kept the Badgers from falling into third place in the Big Ten.

    Wisconsin’s remaining schedule is a tad more favorable than Purdue’s, but the Badgers will have to fix their recent scoring woes to take advantage. They had averaged less than 40 percent from the field in their previous six games and they shot just 41.4 percent from the field in Sunday’s victory.

    – – – – – – –

  • LaVar Ball again says Lonzo is better than Steph Curry, and he needs to stop

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 1 day ago

    LaVar Ball seems to think his eldest son is better than Steph Curry. That’s cute.

    LaVar first unleashed the opinion earlier this week, but the exact words didn’t imply that Lonzo was better right now, only that he eventually would be better than the reigning NBA MVP.

    Now LaVar is doubling down and saying Lonzo is better right now. And he’s doing it  in the middle of a broadcast of his son’s game :

    Lonzo Ball's dad repeats his idea that his son is better than Steph Curry.

    A post shared by espn (@espn) on Feb 18, 2017 at 9:36pm PST

    “I’ma tell you, right now, he’s better than Steph Curry to me,” LaVar said. And no, there’s not any important context that engulfs the statement. It’s as blatant and as flagrant as it sounds. It’s preposterous.

    “Put Steph Curry on UCLA’s team right now, and put my boy on Golden State, and watch what happens,” LaVar said.

    OK, OK. Enough is enough.

  • LaVar Ball again says Lonzo is better than Steph Curry, and he needs to stop

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 1 day ago

    LaVar Ball seems to think his eldest son is better than Steph Curry. That’s cute.

    LaVar first unleashed the opinion earlier this week, but the exact words didn’t imply that Lonzo was better right now, only that he eventually would be better than the reigning NBA MVP.

    Now LaVar is doubling down and saying Lonzo is better right now. And he’s doing it  in the middle of a broadcast of his son’s game :

    Lonzo Ball's dad repeats his idea that his son is better than Steph Curry.

    A post shared by espn (@espn) on Feb 18, 2017 at 9:36pm PST

    “I’ma tell you, right now, he’s better than Steph Curry to me,” LaVar said. And no, there’s not any important context that engulfs the statement. It’s as blatant and as flagrant as it sounds. It’s preposterous.

    “Put Steph Curry on UCLA’s team right now, and put my boy on Golden State, and watch what happens,” LaVar said.

    OK, OK. Enough is enough.

  • John Calipari rants on coaching profession: 'We're firing coaches midseason... Are you s----ing me?'

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 1 day ago

    John Calipari is a really intelligent and really well-spoken person. He’s also very passionate. Combine those three things, and you get some good (and well-reasoned) postgame rants.

    Calipari gave one of those rants after a narrow win over Georgia Saturday. So amped up that he didn’t even sit down, Calipari addressed criticism of Georgia head coach Mark Fox, and made the criticism a referendum on what’s wrong with the coaching profession — or rather athletic directors’ shortsightedness — in a two-minute-long rant.

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

    He eventually moved on from the gripes with Fox to NC State’s decision to fire Mark Gottfried with four games left in the season.

    Here’s full video, from the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Kyle Tucker:

    Cal is the best.

  • North Carolina, back near full strength, gets back to its dominant best in win over Virginia

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 1 day ago

    All Tony Bennett could do was stand there, helpless.

    Virginia’s head coach was perched on a Dean Smith Center sideline, his arms folded, his lips pursed, lonely among a sea of Carolina blue during the second half of a beatdown, and he must have known that any course of action, any attempts to reverse the tide that was vigorously rolling to and fro in front of him, would have been in vain.

    There is a certain fusion of mood and style that North Carolina basketball occasionally digs deep for and finds on this court, a mood defined by energy and pizzazz, a style defined by high-flying offense, intense defense and overpowering bigs, that at its most extreme is indomitable. Sometime on Saturday, during the buildup to their primetime showdown with Virginia, the 10th-ranked Tar Heels found it. And with it, their subsequent dominance of the 14th-ranked Cavaliers could hardly have been more comprehensive.

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

  • Doug Collins' nerves nearly had him in tears during the final minutes of son Chris' game at Northwestern (Video)

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 1 day ago

    You probably know Doug Collins first and foremost as some sort of basketball person. He was a college star; a No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft; an NBA all-star; the head coach of the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers.

    Doug Collins is, however, first and foremost, a dad. He’s a basketball dad. And from his midcourt seat at his son’s game Saturday, he embodied the emotions of every nervous basketball dad ever.

    Collins’ son, Northwestern coach Chris Collins, was locked in a tight battle against Big Ten cellar-dweller Rutgers. The Wildcats, who just need to avoid bad losses to clinch a first NCAA tournament berth in program history, trailed for much of the second half. With the game tight late on, Papa Collins couldn’t bear to watch:

    Doug Collins is in a glass case of emotion. pic.twitter.com/IU6AKn7cFp

    — josh bolander (@josh_bolander) February 19, 2017

    Once ESPNU cameras located Doug on Saturday and realized he was a nervous wreck, they couldn’t resist going back to him again…

    And again…

    And again: