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The Morning Dish – Friday, January 12, 2018

January 12, 2018 The Morning Dish No Comments

Heaven knows there’s too much coach worship in college basketball, an art going back decades in the sport, well before the current best-known media sources. (As good of a meat-and-potatoes analyst as Billy Packer as was, he was almost as good hyping the guys on the sideline as diagramming a play). It’s hard not to get caught up in the work Chris Holtmann has done with Ohio State this year.

Ohio State has not one but two of the most improved players in the country. The Buckeyes’ contributions from newcomers have been significant, but hardly overwhelming, yet there they are, undefeated in the Big Ten, slaying top-ranked teams and soon to be solidly in the top 25.

Ohio State followed up its win over Michigan State on Sunday with a game almost as impressive, pulling away in the second half to blow out Maryland 91-69. The Buckeyes were an offensive machine, shooting 56.1% from the field, including a nonsensical 17 of 29 from three-point range, and the Terrapins simply could not keep up.

In a college hoops season with its share of players who have made great improvement, Keita Bates-Diop rates right at the top. The junior has returned from a leg injury a year ago to become a conference player of the year contender, and he followed up 32 points against Michigan State with another 26 vs. the Terps, including six three-pointers.

Of course, a big chunk of credit also has to go to Holtmann, who in his first year after coming from Butler is showing just how much a coach can make a difference. Other than freshman big man Kaleb Wesson, the Buckeyes are led by mostly familiar characters, and in fact guard C.J. Jackson is right there with Bates-Diop among most improved Big Ten players. (What was all of that about the talent level at Ohio State taking a dive these last couple years?)

Holtmann also seems to be wringing every drop out of this team, as even former Michigan walk-on Andrew Dakich-son of the well-known former coach and current media personality Dan Dakich-scored a career-high 11 points Thursday. One might be asking how long OSU can keep it up, but in a less-demanding-than-usual Big Ten this year, the better question is: why can’t the Buckeyes keep winning?

As late as less than a week ago, it was easy to think OSU’s good start to this season was something of a mirage, a nice story of a new coach improving a team but also facing a favorable schedule the type of which has propelled endless major conference teams to good starts over the years. The Michigan State game gave full indication otherwise, and if there was any wonder if that was a fluke, it should be gone now.

Side Dishes:

  • Hoopville’s latest edition of Talking Hoops with Ted Sarandis is available for your listening enjoyment. Hoopville czar Phil Kasiecki joins Ted to discuss a bunch of news from this week.
  • Among first-year coaches making a major impact, you can also include Kevin Keatts. He has North Carolina State winning with a cobbled together roster, and the Wolfpack socked another ranked team Thursday, edging Clemson 78-77 in the UNC Wilmington Coaching Alumni Game. Brad Brownell’s Tigers had no answer all night for Omer Yurtseven, who scored 29 points, including 5 of 6 from three-point range. Clemson very nearly fought back from 12 down with less than 1:30 left to tie and had a chance to tie after Gabe DeVoe was fouled with :00.2 left while trying a three. DeVoe made the first two free throws but missed the third.
  • It may be time to start being concerned a bit about Arizona State. The Sun Devils lost again, dropping a 76-72 decision at home against Oregon that puts them at 1-3 in the Pac-12. ASU’s ultra-hot shooting has gone away some-just 43.5% in this game-and it also got beat on the boards by the Ducks. Meanwhile, our suspicions about Oregon seem to be coming true: somehow, the Ducks would rise above most in the Pac-12 and Dana Altman was going to have the Ducks in strong contention for the NCAA Tournament.
  • Arizona got a challenge from stubborn Oregon State before finally prevailing 62-53. The Beavers made this like a trip to the dentist for the Wildcats, OSU leading 22-21 at halftime and as late as 39-38 at the under 8 timeout in the second half. Allonzo Trier saved the ‘Cats with 21 points.
  • Western Kentucky earned a good road win, taking down Old Dominion 75-68 in a big one in Conference USA. Justin Johnson scored 25, added 14 rebounds and hit five three-pointers, or two less than he had made all season coming in. WKU owned the second half after trailing by two at the break and stopped the Monarchs’ seven-game winning streak. They’ve got a ways to go yet, but the Hilltoppers look a lot like an NCAA Tournament team to us. Also in C-USA, Middle Tennessee State played at home for the first time in 33 days-remember that when comparing resumes in March-and pulled away from Louisiana Tech 72-57.
  • New Mexico State is now 14-3 after winning at Grand Canyon 70-59. The Aggies tamed the vaunted Havocs with Zach Lofton delivering the goods (29 points) and Jemerrio Jones pulling down 15 rebounds. Jones ranks right with Tennessee’s Grant Williams among the most entertaining undersized frontcourt players in the country.
  • William & Mary rallied from a 14-point deficit to win its first meeting against James Madison, and did even better last night. The Tribe trailed by 20 in the first half but got it to overtime and took care of the Dukes from there 89-82. William & Mary shot 33-for-36 from the free throw line, an especially clutch performance as the Tribe’s 38.1% shooting was far below its 52.1% season average.
  • Wright State is starting to look like it just might be the team to beat in the Horizon. Scott Nagy has proven to be a terrific hire for the Raiders, who toppled Northern Kentucky 84-81 on the road in a battle for first. Grant Benzinger scored 31 and WSU won without Justin Mitchell, one of the better rebounding guards in the country who Nagy said has “asked for some personal time away from the team,” per Jay Morrison of the Dayton Daily News. Wright State just might be in the driver’s seat already to win the Horizon; the Raiders already have road wins now at UNK and Oakland.
  • East Tennessee State downed UNC Greensboro 68-58 in a rockin’ Southern Conference showdown in front of a great crowd and a rematch of last year’s SoCon tourney final. The Buccaneers limited UNCG to 33.3% shooting and have now won seven straight.
  • St. Francis (Pa.) won at Robert Morris 89-82 in a western Pennsylvania battle for first in the Northeast Conference. The Red Flash are loaded with guards and got 27 points from Jamaal King.
  • Jacksonville State built a huge lead and held off Murray State 76-71 in a big OVC battle. Marlon Hunter (21) and Malcolm Drumwright (20) did much of the damage for the Gamecocks, while the Racers gave it a valiant effort, rallying from 19 down in the second half to make it a game late.
  • Blowout city: Wichita State drubbed East Carolina 95-60. We seem to remember the American was supposed to be a big step up for the Shockers. Hmmm. Also, Gonzaga blew away Portland 103-57.
  • A perplexing season for Texas-Arlington continues. The Mavericks were handled by 5-13 Arkansas-Little Rock 77-65. A team that notably handled Oklahoma by 15 in an exhibition and drilled BYU on the road is now 11-7.
  • College basketball’s FBI scandal was back in the news, as it was announced Thursday that both Auburn’s Austin Wiley and USC’s De’Anthony Melton will not play this season. Wiley was officially ruled ineligible by the NCAA, while the Trojans are not calling it a suspension but a continued precautionary move.
  • Pittsburgh’s dismal season got worse with the news Ryan Luther is out for the rest of the year due to a foot injury. Luther has been out for a while now and it was announced he is officially being shut down with the intent of applying for a hardship waiver for a redshirt. Luther was a bright spot for Pitt this year, leading the team averaging 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
  • Unfortunate news early this morning for Akron, where jumping-jack center Emmanuel Olojakpoke will have heart surgery and will presumably miss the rest of the season. Olojakpoke played five minutes in Tuesday night’s Zips’ loss to Buffalo and was averaging 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds. He’s a fun player to watch and best wishes for a full recovery.

Tonight’s Menu: The first couple Fridays in January are a little busier than one might expect, and this evening has a total of 22 games.

  • The night starts early with the Ivy League, as Brown and Yale tip off during happy hour (5:30 p.m. Eastern).
  • There’s a Big East doubleheader on FS1, with Marquette taking its totally guard-oriented team (which also outrebounded Seton Hall last time out, it must be noted) to Butler (6:30 p.m.). After that it’s Providence traveling to DePaul (8:30 p.m.).
  • The Atlantic 10 may be in a changing of the guard this year, but VCU and Dayton were its premier programs in recent years and meet again with their two first-year coaches and the Flyers at home (7 p.m., ESPN2).
  • Friday night MAC on CBS Sports Network has Ohio at Kent State (7 p.m.).
  • The MAAC has been turned upside down this year and then tossed sideways for good measure. Another busy Friday night for the league is led perhaps by Quinnipiac at Rider, with the Broncs tri-leaders early on at 3-1 along with Iona and Canisius and the Bobcats just one-half game behind.
  • The Big South gets in on the Friday night action and there’s a good one with the league’s lone undefeated Radford at Gardner-Webb, just a game behind the Highlanders.
  • Another to watch in the Ivy League is capable Cornell on the road at Pennsylvania. The Quakers ‘should’ win, but the Big Red have two horses in Matt Morgan and Stone Gettings and defeated the same Toledo team Penn recently lost to…
  • The night ends with a Big Sky single in the Palouse with Idaho at Eastern Washington.

Enjoy your Friday and have a great weekend.

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College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

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Everybody Needs a Head Coach

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"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

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