The Dagger

  • John Gillon banks in buzzer-beater, Syracuse upsets Duke (Video)

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 1 hr ago

    Syracuse’s back was against the wall. It came into Wednesday’s game against Duke having lost three in a row. It went into halftime down eight, and with a road trip to Louisville looming over the weekend, the Orange were staring a five-game losing streak in the face.

    Then came the comeback. Then came the hero.

    John Gillon banked in an off-balance, buzzer-beating 30-footer to beat the Blue Devils and likely send Syracuse to the NCAA tournament.

    Syracuse fans immediately filled the Carrier Dome court. Over 30,000 of them, packed to the ceiling in the upper deck, were in attendance for the showdown with Duke, and if given the choice, all of them probably would have found their way onto the floor to join the hundreds that did.

    Court Storm!!!

    — Ahmed Fareed (@AhmedFareedCSN) February 23, 2017

    College. Basketball. (???? by @cole_massie)

  • Fifteen remarkable stats to put Kansas' Big 12 title streak in perspective

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 hr ago

    At first, the streak was notable for the parade of exemplary individual talents that Kansas overcame. More recently, the overall quality of the Big 12’s top teams has posed the greatest threat.

    No matter what, one thing has always remained constant: The Jayhawks have always found a way to turn back all challengers.

    Kansas clinched at least a share of its record-tying 13th straight Big 12 title on Wednesday night with an 87-68 victory over TCU. The third-ranked Jayhawks (26-3, 13-2) now hold a three-game lead over Baylor, West Virginia and Iowa State with just three conference games left to play.

    UCLA is the lone team besides Kansas to ever capture 13 straight conference championships in a row, launching the run at the height of the John Wooden dynasty in 1967 and concluding it in 1979. Only Gonzaga (11), UNLV (10) and UConn (10) have even put together league title streaks that reached double figures.

    To put Kansas’ accomplishment into perspective, consider how different the world was before the streak started. In 2004, Friends aired its final episode, Lindsay Lohan was a beloved fresh-faced movie star and Janet Jackson taught us the phrase “wardrobe malfunction.



  • Former Penn State forward Joonas Suotamo is the new Chewbacca

    Matt Fortuna at The Dagger 1 hr ago

    One of cinema’s iconic franchises will now carry a distinct hardwood flavor.

    Joonas Suotamo, a former Penn State basketball player,will play Chewbacca in the next Star Wars movie. Suotamo had doubled for Peter Mayhew, the original Chewbacca, in the 2015 movie “The Force Awakens.”

    Suotamo announced the news Tuesday on Twitter, saying he is ecstatic about the opportunity and that he hopes to make Mayhew proud.

    I'm ecstatic. It's official. And here is my statement to this terrific piece of news

    — Joonas Suotamo (@JoonasSuotamo) February 21, 2017

    He, of course, closed with a *Wookie fist bump.*

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    “He’s just a great kid. Super student. And was really into filmmaking while he was at Penn State.”

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  • Creighton suspends injured star Maurice Watson from team activities

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 hrs ago

    When Creighton hosts St. John’s next Tuesday night in its final home game of the season, the Bluejays’ most heralded player will not participate in senior day activities.

    Injured point guard Maurice Watson has been suspended from all team-related activities for “alleged actions that are contrary to University policies and core values,” Creighton announced Wednesday. The school will not release any further information at this time regarding the cause of the suspension.

    “Creighton’s athletics program is based upon the Catholic, Jesuit mission of the university,” the school’s vague but ominously worded statement read. “Program officials, coaches and staff always strive to administer the program to the University’s highest values and standards.”

    Watson has not played for Creighton since tearing an ACL against Xavier on Jan. 16. At the time of the injury, the senior was averaging 12.9 points and a national-best 8.5 assists per game.

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  • How Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ developed into a paradoxical and underappreciated superstar

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 12 hrs ago

    With the sun still hiding below the horizon and the cold pinching at anybody who dared expose themselves to it, Ethan Happ would grab his fully-packed school bags, jump into his white Pontiac Grand Am, and begin his winter days. Before a basketball could be bounced, an engine had to be revved, an exhaust pipe had to belch, and the 17-year-old version of the Big Ten’s most intriguing player had to roll out into the early morning Midwestern darkness.

    And before he could do that, the night before, he had to compose a quick text message. A few miles away, the cell phone of Rockridge High School head basketball coach Toby Whiteman would beep. Ethan’s name would flash on the screen, and underneath it would be a short message:

    I’m coming by to get the keys tomorrow morning.

    Whiteman knew what the text meant. It wasn’t the first time he’d received it, nor would it be the last. He also knew all it needed was a quick response:

    You know where they are.


    He’s been doing it since elementary school adjourned in May or June and childhood summers commenced in Milan (pronounced MY-lan), Illinois, a small town near the Quad Cities that self-identifies as a village rather than a city.


  • Brad vs. the Book: Cash money is in the Cards at Carolina

    Brad Evans at The Dagger 13 hrs ago

    Slaying the sportsbook is a monstrous task. Some days bettors take up residence in a penthouse suite. Other times, they curl up in the nearest ditch, shirtless. In an attempt to avoid complete destitution, I will post my picks, whether profitable or penniless, through the NCAA tourney. Check out Wednesday’s selections below:

    Louisville (22-5) at North Carolina (23-5)

    Villanova, Kansas and Gonzaga, assuming disaster doesn’t strike, are virtually cast in stone on the No. 1 seed line. However, the fourth and final spot remains up for grabs.

    Protect the Dean Dome Wednesday night and North Carolina will be one step closer to cementing its place among college basketball’s presumed elite.

    Whoever claims the battle of the boards will ultimately determine the winner in Chapel Hill. Along with Mathiang, Jaylen Johnson, Ray Spalding and Anas Mahmoud must match Carolina’s lane cloggers pound-for-pound, an achievable requirement. In what should be a fairly high-scoring affair, throw a Beggin’ Strip to the underdog.

    Fearless Forecast: North Carolina 78 Louisville (+5.5) 75

    Duke (22-5) at Syracuse (16-12)

    Its home game against Duke and a road matchup at Louisville present ideal opportunities.

  • John Calipari cuts short halftime interview amid hostile chants

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 19 hrs ago

    Already perturbed that his team led by just a single point over SEC doormat Missouri at halftime Tuesday night, Kentucky coach John Calipari had to deal with an extra annoyance.

    Missouri students berated him with “Cal, you suck!” chants as he attempted to conduct a halftime interview with the SEC Network’s Laura Rutledge.

    Credit Calipari for enduring one question straight-faced in that hostile atmosphere. Alas, Rutledge pushed her luck and asked a second one. When Rutledge asked Calipari how he’d describe the student section behind him, the Kentucky coach instead bolted without answering.

    Here it is. Coach Cal was not a fan of that question.

    — Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) February 22, 2017

    Calipari was in a slightly better mood postgame after Kentucky pulled away for a 72-62 road victory behind Bam Adebayo’s 22 points and 15 rebounds. The Kentucky coach told reporters that Rutledge apologized for the question after the game, but he had no idea what she was talking about.

  • South Carolina's skid is conjuring bad memories of last year's late collapse

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 23 hrs ago

    One year after a staggering late-season collapse cost South Carolina the chance to go to the NCAA tournament, the Gamecocks are again beginning to teeter as March approaches.

    They fell 81-66 at 13th-ranked Florida on Tuesday night, their fourth loss in their past five games.

    There’s no shame in losing in Gainesville against the surging Gators, but South Carolina’s other three recent losses are much less flattering. The Gamecocks dropped games against bubble team Arkansas and fringe NCAA tournament contenders Vanderbilt and Alabama, two out of three of which came at home.

    Now 20-8 overall and 10-5 in the SEC, South Carolina has done considerable damage to its NCAA tournament seeding. The Gamecocks project as a No. 7-9 seed at this point, but they’re at risk of plunging toward the bubble if they can’t emerge from this February slide soon.


    In South Carolina’s last five games, however, one of the nation’s premier defenses has experienced significant slippage. The Gamecocks were ordinary against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State and downright bad against Arkansas and Florida, surrendering 1.2 points per possession to the Razorbacks and 1.14 to the Gators.

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  • Bob Huggins says he fell to his knees because his defibrillator activated

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Bob Huggins apparently isn’t worried about the health scare he endured during Monday night’s 77-62 victory over Texas.

    The West Virginia coach never left the game even after dropping to his knees late in the first half and clutching his chest.

    Medical personnel evaluated Huggins on the floor and Texas coach Shaka Smart approached him to ask if he was OK. The 63-year-old coach told ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe at halftime that his internal “defibrillator went off,” but he’s fine.

    Huggins previously suffered a heart attack while on a recruiting trip in Pittsburgh in 2002 and was fitted for the defibrillator. He remained as fiery and enthusiastic as ever on the sidelines ever since, taking over at his alma mater West Virginia in 2007 after stints with Kansas State and Cincinnati.

    It certainly didn’t seem like Huggins’ let Monday’s health scare affect him the rest of the game. He was cracking jokes within seconds and spent much of the second half bickering with referees.

    Bob Huggins just fainted in a timeout and got up and told one of his players, "It's your fault. You're trying to kill me."

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  • Loyola-Chicago priests unveil rap video for final home game

    Matt Fortuna at The Dagger 2 days ago

    Loyola-Chicago’s final home game is Wednesday, and as the kids say, it’s going to be lit.

    Or, in this case, Jesu-LIT.

    That’s right: This is the Ramblers’ annual Jesuit Jam game, and school brass is not pulling any punches in hyping this “Jesu-Lit!” event.

    Look no further than the absolutely hilarious promotional video Loyola unveiled Monday.

    Yes, those are priests that you see rapping and showing off their dance moves to the beat of Chicago-native Chance the Rapper’s “No Problem.” Team chaplain Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, 97 years young, makes an appearance. So, too, does school president Dr. Jo Ann Rooney.

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    A school tradition, Jesuit Jam features Jesuit-themed contests and promotions. The fifth-place Ramblers (17-12, 7-9 Missouri Valley Conference) host ninth-place Drake (7-21, 5-11) in their home finale ahead of Arch Madness, which tips off next week in St. Louis.

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