Sunday, March 12, 2017

The 2017 Genotology field of 68

                                                        Photo Credit: Geno Green

X= Automatic Bid





Last Four In:

Michigan State
Kansas State

First Four Out:

Wake Forest
Illinois State
Georgia Tech

Conference Breakdown:

ACC (9)
Big East (7)
Big Ten (7)
Big 12 (6)
SEC (5)
Pac-12 (4)
Atlantic 10 (3)
American (2) 
WCC (2)

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Villanova 74, Creighton 60: Wildcats' Tenacious D too much for the Bluejays

                                                              Photo Credit: Geno Green

NEW YORK— In front of a sellout crowd of 19,812 at Madison Square Garden, also known as the mecca of basketball, the top-seeded Villanova Wildcats (31-3) won their second Big East tournament title in three seasons behind stellar defensive play in a 74-60 win over the Creighton Bluejays (25-9).

Villanova’s defense proved to be its offense as it forced Creighton into 17 turnovers and produced 21 points and coach Jay Wright was proud of the team's ability to step up in a championship environment.

"Our ball pressure was not really good against Seton Hall and we were too relaxed," Wright said. "Creighton's teams execute better than most in the country on offense, so we knew if we just let them run their stuff, we would get sliced up. So, pressuring the ball was really important and I think we did a really good job of it."

The Wildcats’ perimeter defense proved to be the difference as they the Bluejays, who shot 13-of-20 (65.0 percent) in the semifinals against the Xavier Musketeers, to 6-for-24 (25 percent).

"We played our best defensive game of the year and it was no problem getting them ready for their offensive execution against Creighton," Wright said. "Great leadership from (Jalen Brunson) and (Josh Hart) was also key to our success."

Creighton's Marcus Foster, who came into the game with a league-high 18.5 points per game, could not get into a flow as he was held to 13 points, on 5-of-13 from the field, to go along with four turnovers.

Big East Most Outstanding Player Josh Hart further validated his league Player of the Year status with a game-high 29 points, to go along with six rebounds. Hart showed a calm demeanor after winning his second MOP.

"Part it of was exhaustion, but we know we have to get a lot better and become even more coachable," Hart said. We are honored and humble to have won this against Creighton."

Creighton and Villanova took each other’s best shot in the first four minutes of the game as each team exchanged baskets, highlighted by Jenkins with the first six points for the Wildcats.

With the game tied at 11 halfway through the first half, Villanova went deep into its bench early with Donte DiVincenzo and Eric Paschall on the floor. The moves helped Hart find more time to create his own shot as he made the next 11 points for Nova and held a 22-17 lead at the 6:21 mark of the first half.

In need of a spark from long range, Creighton’s Cole Huff provided one from the baseline to cut Villanova’s lead to two. However, Villanova showed why it is the premiere team in the conference once more as it went on an 8-0 run over a 2:21 stretch.

Villanova’s defense forced Creighton to settle for looks in the paint as it struggled from long range missing nine of its first 10 attempts and created 10 Creighton turnovers into 11 points as it went into the half with a 36-22 advantage.

The second half saw the Wildcats pick up right where it left off at from the field as their lead increased to 18, while the Bluejays continued to drown with their careless ball handling on offense. Despite Villanova going 6:16 without of a field goal, Creighton could not cut the deficit to single digits as it ran out of gas on its third game in as many nights.

Tournament Notes:

- Hart became the third player in Big East Tournament history to win two Most Outstanding Player awards (2015 and 2017). The other players to win two MOP's were Georgetown's Patrick Ewing (1984-1985) and Louisville's Peyton Siva (2012-2013).

- Villanova's Jalen Brunson and Kris Jenkins, along with Creighton's Marcus Foster, Seton Hall's Angel Delgado and Xavier's Trevon Bluiett were named to the Big East All-Tournament team.

Looking Ahead:

The Wildcats and the Bluejays will await their NCAA Tournament seedings on Selection Sunday. Villanova will likely be the overall top seed in the 68-team field and would likely begin in Buffalo and back at Madison Square Garden, if they advance to the regional semifinal round.

Social Media:

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Underdog players to watch for in the 2017 Big East Tournament

The second week of March means the tradition and pageantry of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden for the 35th consecutive year.

Players like Chris Mullin, Patrick Ewing, Ray Allen, Allen Iverson and Kemba Walker have made names for themselves over the years on the biggest stage in basketball.

With the tournament beginning on Wednesday night, here are four players under the radar who could leave an impact on their respective teams:

Butler guard Kamar Baldwin (6-0, 170 lbs, Freshman)

2016-17 season stats: 10.1 points per game, 3.6 rebounds per game and 1.7 steals per game and 38.5 percent from three-point range

The Butler Bulldogs were in transition this season with their top two scorers gone to graduation in Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, but have used a combination of players to make up for the loss, highlighted by Kamar Baldwin.

Baldwin was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team on March 5 after finishing the regular season with a team-high 1.7 steals per game and Butler coach Chris Holtmann praised the accomplishments in Monday’s Big East teleconference.

“Kamar has been as instrumental in our success as any other freshman has been in the country for his team,” Holtmann said.

“He has been instrumental from day one and impacted our team from a significant way. More so, than I think any of us anticipated. Kamar is very deserving of the honors that came his way and needs to improve in some areas still, but he has embraced the challenge.”

Marquette guard Andrew Rowsey (5-10, 180 lbs, Redshirt Junior)

2016-17 season stats: 11.2 points per game, 2.3 assists per game and 45.5 percent from three-point range

UNC-Asheville transfer Andrew Rowsey’s addition has paid dividends for the Marquette Golden Eagles this season.

Rowsey led the Big East and is second in the country in the free-throw percentage department at 94.3 percent. Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski praised the league’s sixth man of the year.

“As the year has gone on, (Andrew) has continued to get better and that’s helped our team improve,” Wojciechowski said.

Marquette guard Katin Reinhardt (6-6, 210 lbs, Graduate Student)

2016-17 season stats: 10.9 PPG, 2.2 assists per game and 38.3 percent from three-point range

On a team loaded with shooters like Rowsey, Markus Howard and Sam Hauser, the straw who stirs the drink happens to be Katin Reinhardt. Marquette’s run to 10 wins in Big East play for the first time since the 2012-13 season has been in part to Reinhardt’s sharp-shooting off the bench.

The Golden Eagles are likely to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since that campaign and Reinhardt’s experience on the big stage at UNLV and USC over the previous four seasons have played a big part.

“Katin has been a huge part of our season as his addition to our program has been a big one as he is a guy who has had experience in the postseason at his previous stops,” Wojo said.

“He gives us great versatility off the bench and obviously we are happy that Andrew (Rowsey) won the sixth man of the year award and I think Katin is a guy who could have been right up there with him given how well he has played with us. His versatility helps us because we are able to play him at the frontcourt or we can play him on the perimeter and is an outstanding all-around offensive player.”

Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo (6-5, 205 lbs, Redshirt Freshman)

2016-17 season stats: 7.9 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 44 percent field goal percentage

In a season where the Villanova Wildcats have played six or seven-man rotations on most nights, Donte DiVincenzo has embraced the challenge off the bench from coach Jay Wright.

Named to the Big-East All-Freshman team on March 5, DiVincenzo’s 25 minutes per game have proven to be valuable, despite some hardship in a 74-72 loss at Marquette on Jan. 24.

“(Donte) is a great example of taking advantage of an opportunity,” Wright said.

“If Omari Spellman and Phil Booth were playing this year, he would not have played as much and been thrown into situations like he as. (Donte) had a game at Marquette where he had a tough game and the crowd was all over him as he shot a couple of air balls. The way Donte handled that scenario impressed his teammates and developed a mental toughness in him that has allowed him to become a big time player for us.”

Do not be surprised to see one or more of these players named to the All-Tournament team on Saturday night.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

CSO Q & A- DePaul guard Eli Cain

                                                        Photo Credit: DePaul Athletics

Welcome to the latest edition of CSO's Q & A, where I chat with athletes and media personalities about life on and off the playing surface.

This week's Q & A focuses on DePaul sophomore guard Eli Cain.

GG: What has been the biggest transition going from high school in New Jersey to playing in a big city like Chicago?

EC: Off the court, the weather can be real brutal (in Chicago) in the winter. Basketball wise, the speed of the game is a lot faster. You have to make faster reads and getting used to the flow of the college game.

GG: As a freshman, you were a role payer, but have become the primary scorer as a sophomore. How have you adjusted to the new role?

EC: Watching a lot of film to be honest and it feels like every move I make on the court, there are two to three defenders following. I have learned when to attack in specific spots, where to make the next pass and staying in the gym to work on my craft.

GG: In your time at DePaul, what is the one skill you have learned the most under coach Dave Leitao?

EC: He preaches trusting the process a lot and tells us that you have to go through things to get to the goal of winning. We have not won as much as we would want, but in the years to come, we can win as much as we want as long as we stick to the plan.

GG: Billy Garrett Jr. has been a starter for DePaul over the last four seasons. What is the impact Billy has had on you in terms of growth?

EC: Similar to coach Leitao, Bill has been through everything more than any of us. He is level headed every day and doesn’t get too high or too low. He will hit a buzzer-beater one game and then the next day at practice, he would be even keeled. If we lost by 50, it would be the same demeanor.

GG: On or off the court, who has impacted you the most in your two seasons at DePaul?

EC: Darrick Wood. He’s like my big brother and we played for the same AAU team in  New Jersey and our connection was one of the reasons why I came here, along with Billy Garrett, Sr. and Jr. If you see me, you see Darrick lurking right behind.

GG: You will be a part of DePaul history next season as you move from playing at Allstate Arena in Rosemont to a brand new facility at Wintrust Arena in Chicago’s South Loop, how important will it be not only for the team, but for the students and alumni to be within a reasonable distance?

EC: It will help a lot, given we will have new players coming in and more students in the area. When you go to other arenas, their student sections are very loud and involved in the game.

GG: Does the team have a particular song to get motivated by before a game?

EC: R.J. (Curington) usually brings the speaker into the locker room and before we run out to the court, Billy gives us a freestyle to get us going a little bit. On the court, obviously there is the playlist in the arena and that gets Billy to do more freestyling, along with Darrick (Wood).

GG: You have gone up against the likes of Kris Dunn and Ryan Arcidiacono in your time at DePaul, who is the toughest opposing player you have guarded?

EC: I would say Maurice Watson Jr. from Creighton because he is so fast and watched him play in high school and took that as a challenge once I came to DePaul. He gets into the lane with ease and is a constant guard at all times.

Social Media:

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Wichita State among the automatic qualifiers in the latest Genotology

                                          Photo Credit: Geno Green


x Automatic Bid to the NCAA Tournament
* New entry in the field

> UP






Last Four In:

Michigan State
Wake Forest

First Four Out:

Rhode Island
Georgia Tech
Kansas State

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Rosenberg: Wichita State showed its dominance in the MVC Title Game

Photo Credit: Jeremy Rosenberg

By: Jeremy Rosenberg

ST. LOUIS— Championship Sunday in St. Louis left no doubt as to who the superior team was. The Wichita State Shockers came out strong behind the shooting of junior guard Connor Frankamp and freshman Landry Shamet, and the defense never allowed the Illinois State offense to get on track. In the end, Wichita State claimed a decisive 71-51 victory, and punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

The victory capped off a gratifying season for Shockers coach Gregg Marshall. After losing all-MVC stars like Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, who played for a combined 83 years in Wichita, 2016-2017 was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Instead, Marshall retooled behind young talent like Shamet, Frankamp, and an athletic group of forwards to complete a 30-4 season and their first Arch Madness title since 2014.

Illinois State struggled mightily from the start. Star players like Tony WIlls and MiKyle McIntosh could never get on track, while big men Phil Fayne and Daouda Ndiaye got into early foul trouble. MVC Player of the Year Paris Lee was all that kept the Redbirds from being completely cut down by the Shockers. Lee gave a gutty performance, finishing with 18 points and 6 rebounds, but could not get enough support from his teammates.

The Redbirds couldn't mount a real run to threaten the Shockers, as time and time again Illinois State's shots and free throws would clank out, while Wichita State's shots seemed to always get the friendly roll. It was a frustrating way for the Redbird seniors to finish their MVC career. The only question that matters to them now is whether they continue their season in the NIT or the NCAA Tourney.

That is a question for the Selection Committee to decide, but it seems each time they have a choice between a high level mid-major team and a 7th or 8th team from a Power 5 conference, the mid-major team is snubbed. Fans in Normal will have to sweat it out for a week.

As for the Shockers, this team will be a tough out in the NCAA's. They are deep, they are athletic, they have quality guards, especially Shamet, who plays with a quiet confidence, let's the game come to him, and provides a steady hand for the Shocker offense. Connor Frankamp is a dangerous three point shooter who can get hot and help the Shockers make another long run.

It was a game that failed to live up to the hype. Partially because Illinois State came out flat, but also because Wichita State was intense and focused from the opening tip. Often games are decided by epic choke jobs, or elections are split between electoral and popular vote victories. Given such dubious outcomes, it is nice to have a decisive, clear champion for the Missouri Valley Conference. Illinois State had a fine season, and will hopefully get a chance to redeem themselves in a couple of weeks. 

But let there be no doubt about 2016-2017. This season belonged to the Wichita State Shockers.

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