Tag:Jeff Borzello
Posted on: February 17, 2012 9:03 am

Wakeup Call: It's BracketBusters weekend!

Florida State's Michael Snaer releases the game-winning 3-pointer against Virginia Tech. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

I’m back on duty for the Wakeup Call, but this is my last day for a while. I don’t have any meme-like links for you guys, but I sincerely hope this Kim Kardashian/Jeremy Lin stuff isn’t true. She and Carmelo Anthony are the only people who can stop Super Lintendo.

- First of all, thoughts and prayers go out to the family of New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid, who died from an asthma attack in Syria on Thursday. He won two Pulitzer Prizes and was one of the best foreign correspondents of his generation. Here’s his obituary from the Washington Post, where he wrote for many years.

- Here was my reaction to the Bracket Busters when they were first announced; I broke down the top games, worst draws and all the noteworthy storylines. It works as a preview too.

- This one ended after Goodman posted Night Court: BYU’s Matt Carlino hit a baseline shot with 21 seconds left to beat San Francisco, 85-84.

- In a major Pac-12 bubble battle, California outscored Oregon 21-10 down the stretch to pull out a three-point win.

- VCU is still an at-large long shot, but a win over Northern Iowa on Friday night would provide a nice boost heading into the final weeks.

- After Ole Miss’ loss to Vanderbilt, teammates Jelan Kendrick and Reggie Buckner had to be separated in the tunnel. Kendrick had issues with this at Memphis.

- Reggie Johnson and Durand Scott each tweaked a knee against North Carolina on Wednesday, and underwent MRIs on Thursday.

- Chehales Tapscott is an awesome name by itself. Throw in the fact that his middle name is Centurion, and the Portland State guard takes it to a new level.

- John Ezekowitz looks at the top teams from this season and finds their best comparisons from past seasons.

- Illinois head coach Bruce Weber apologized on Thursday for the comments he made after the Fighting Illini’s loss to Purdue.

- Tennessee suspended forward Kenny Hall indefinitely for “conduct detrimental to the team.”

- This is from a couple of days ago, but Anthony Davis has closed the gap between he and Thomas Robinson in the Player of the Year straw poll. Jared Sullinger, Doug McDermott and Draymond Green round out the top five.

- “Go ahead and boo Verdell Jones. It’s not like he hasn’t heard it before. Tell the Indiana senior guard that he stinks, that he’s a human turnover, that he belongs at some backwater college far removed from the Big Ten spotlight. He thrives on it.”

- Kentucky is now a 2:1 bet to win the national championship.

- This is college football-related, but Sally Jenkins going HAM on Maryland football coach Randy Edsall was unbelievable. 

- Bill Plaschke parachutes in and writes that Josh Smith has been a disappointment and will make an effort to get better for next season. We’ve heard this routine from Smith before.

Wake Forest signee Devin Thomas breaks a backboard after an alley-oop. Impressive. 

Continuing the house music tradition of the past day, we’re going with “So Much Love” by Fedde Le Grand. It’s a good song – and the drop at 2:19 is sick – but this is more for the video. If you watch this and don’t immediately get in the mood to party, you’re nuts. Happy weekend. 

More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 17, 2012 12:00 am
Edited on: February 17, 2012 12:15 am

Duke erases late 20-point deficit vs. NC State

By Jeff Borzello

NC State blew a 20-point lead in the final 11:33 vs. Duke. Mark Gottfried sums up State's feelings. (US Presswire)

It looked like another bubble team was ready to come into Cameron Indoor Stadium and knock off Duke. It looked like the Blue Devils were prepared to lose their third game at home this season. It looked like North Carolina State was heading to the NCAA tournament.

And now? Well now, none of that is happening yet.

Duke came back from a 20-point deficit in the final 11:33 to beat the Wolfpack, 78-73. The Blue Devils simply kept coming back. It was a 13-0 run that turned into a 20-3 run that turned into a 37-12 run. In that span, Duke outscored NC State by 25, missed just six shots -- and didn't commit a single turnover.

North Carolina State was completely rattled down the stretch. And it wasn’t just one person. Lorenzo Brown stepped out of bounds, C.J. Leslie committed a bad foul, Richard Howell bumped Austin Rivers 40 feet from the basket.

The final possession was a microcosm of the final 10 minutes for NC State. Down by three with 25 seconds left, the Wolfpack – instead of going for a quick two and then fouling to extend the game – decided to look for Scott Wood going off screens behind the 3-point arc. And that was it. When Duke’s Tyler Thornton stayed with Wood throughout the possession, the Wolfpack had no options. Brown took a desperation 3-pointer with seven seconds left and Seth Curry – who scored 21 of his 26 points in the second half – iced the game with two free throws.

This was North Carolina State’s game. A win at Cameron Indoor, and the Wolfpack would have the inside track to finishing fourth in the ACC – and likely getting an NCAA tournament berth. Their resume – which also includes wins over bubblers Miami (Fl.) and Texas – would have compared favorably to nearly every other team on the fence. When Duke missed 11 of its first 12 shots, including its first nine 3-pointers, everything seemed to be going according to plan.

NC State fought everything to keep the lead. They fought off the initial comebacks by Duke, they fought off foul trouble, they fought off turnovers.

But they couldn’t fight off Duke’s final run. 

Posted on: February 16, 2012 4:39 pm

Freshman of the Year: Cody Zeller heating up

Indiana's Cody Zeller is increasing his production at the perfect time. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

We all know Anthony Davis is going to win all Freshman of the Year awards this season; that’s set in stone. But the finalists for the Wayman Tisdale Award were released on Wednesday afternoon, and there were some questionable selections. The finalists were: Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Austin Rivers and Tony Wroten. The first three are fine – but Rivers and Wroten? Prior to his recent stretch, Rivers had struggled offensively, while Wroten has gaudy numbers but has been inconsistent with turnovers. I can see Rivers, but Wroten is a stretch. Moe Harkless is supremely talented and has put up tremendous numbers, while Trey Burke has Michigan in the Big Ten title hunt. Both could have made a case for inclusion.

The Freshman of the Year rankings are released every Thursday afternoon, shortly after Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish’s Player of the Year rankings.

1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky (Last Week: 1): 14.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 4.9 bpg, 65.1 FG%
Davis finally missed a few shots over the weekend against Vanderbilt, but he had one of his best defensive performances of the season, blocking seven shots.

2. Cody Zeller, Indiana (Last Week: 3): 15.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 65.6 FG%
Zeller is heating up again at the right time. In the last two games, he totaled 45 points and 12 rebounds on 14-for-19 shooting from the field. He also knocked down 17-of-20 free throws.

3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky (Last Week: 2): 12.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg
Kidd-Gilchrist has been very inconsistent on the offensive end lately, making five or more field goals in a game just twice since December 31. He has six single-digit scoring games in that span.

4. Moe Harkless, St. John’s (Last Week: 4): 15.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg
Despite being the focal point of defenses, Harkless is still managing to carry the young Johnnies offensively. He averaged 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in his last two games.

5. Trey Burke, Michigan (Last Week: 5): 14.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.8 apg
Burke has scaled his offensive production back a bit in the past few weeks, but he still has the Wolverines in Big Ten title contention. Had 14 over the weekend vs. Illinois.

6. Tony Mitchell, North Texas (Last Week: 7): 16.1 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.9 bpg, 61.4 FG%
Mitchell took over the freshman rebounding leaderboard, after his 22-point, 20-rebound, five-assist, six-block game against Florida Atlantic. Averaged 19.5 points, 16.0 rebounds and 5.0 blocks in last two. 

7. Austin Rivers, Duke (Last Week: 6): 15.0 ppg, 41.0 3PT%
Not surprisingly, Rivers slowed down after his performance against North Carolina. He still managed to knock down three 3-pointers and dish out four assists vs. Maryland.

8. Brad Beal, Florida (Last Week: 10): 14.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg
Everyone on the Gators seems to be hitting a wall – except Beal. He’s picking up the slack over the past six games, averaging 16.0 points and 8.7 rebounds. He’s been more aggressive.

9. Tony Wroten, Washington (Last Week: 8): 16.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.5 apg
If only Wroten could find some consistency from the floor and with turnovers. He was too aggressive in a 25-point loss to Oregon, and foul trouble hampered him against Oregon State.

10. D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s (Last Week: 9): 16.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Harrison continued his torrid 3-point pace against Georgetown, with five long-range shots, but shot just 4-for-15 from the field in a 30-point loss to Seton Hall. 


  • It’s getting harder and harder to break into the rankings, with the way the bottom half of the top 10 is playing. Beal is rolling, Harrison is putting up numbers, Mitchell is a beast, and it’s tough to take out Wroten.
  • Texas’ Myck Kabongo is going to be a huge key for the Longhorns down the stretch. He averaged 13.0 points and 5.0 assists in his last two games.
  • Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos is one of the hottest shooters around. He’s averaged 24.0 points and 5.5 assists in his last two games, shooting 10-for-13 from 3-point range.
  • South Florida point guard Anthony Collins has tallied at least six assists in five straight games, and is one of the reasons the Bulls are playing well. Averaging 8.8 points and 6.2 assists in that span.
  • Arkansas’ B.J. Young seems to have found his stroke. He’s 21-for-36 in his last three games, averaging 20.3 points in that span. He’s inching closer to the rankings.
  • It’s time to stop calling Kentucky’s Marquis Teague a disappointment. He’s playing more within himself (and the offense) and has really cut back on his turnovers. Averaged 12.5 points and 9.0 assists in his last two games.
  • If Arizona’s Nick Johnson has more games like he did against Utah – 18 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals and three 3-pointers – look out.
  • LSU has itself a nice inside-outside duo in guard Anthony Hickey and big man Johnny O’Bryant. Both have been inconsistent, but the light bulb could be coming on.
  • Jackson State’s Kelsey Howard is gunning lately. He’s attempted at least 12 shots in eight straight games, including a 5-for-25 effort last week. In that stretch, he’s averaging 15.0 points and shooting 33.5 percent.
  • Freshman leaders – Points: Kyle Vinales, Central Connecticut State (17.8); Rebounds: Tony Mitchell, North Texas (10.4); Assists: Dylan Garrity, Sacramento State (6.6)
Posted on: February 16, 2012 2:28 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 3:19 pm

No. 1 senior Nerlens Noel discusses recruitment

By Jeff Borzello

Nerlens Noel's recruitment has heated up since he reclassified to 2012. (MassLive.com)

Since Nerlens Noel announced a few weeks ago that he was reclassifying to the class of 2012, he’s been the most talked-about recruit in the country.

Noel, a 6-foot-10 Massachusetts native who plays at Tilton (N.H.), immediately moved to the No. 1 ranking in the nation. Moreover, the schools pursuing him have really turned up the heat.

“Recruiting has gone crazy all of a sudden,” Noel told Jeff Goodman on SiriusXM’s Inside College Basketball on Thursday afternoon. “I just need to plan out some visits to get out to all these schools. Keep talking to coaches, build better relationships with them.”

Noel is currently considering Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina, Florida, Georgetown and Connecticut. He later tweeted that Providence was also on his list, but did not mention them during the interview with Goodman.

He visited Syracuse this past weekend for the Orange’s win over Connecticut, and he will trip to Kentucky this coming weekend.

“I’m talking to a few more coaches to get down to their campuses during vacation,” Noel said.

Noel is the best shot-blocker in the country, and would immediately be the best in the college game too. He has tremendous dexterity defensively, able to cover a lot of ground and alter shots with either hand. Noel’s offensive is constantly getting better, and he is developing post moves and is taking defenders off the dribble as well.

He would dominate defensively wherever he ends up.

“Just a good program where I can go and play and be comfortable with the coaching staff, the whole program,” Noel said. “I know I can develop as long as I’m there, as a player and a person.”

Noel maintains that he is wide open among the six schools he mentioned, and he is still a long way from making a decision.

“I don’t really have a timeframe,” Noel said on the show. “I just want to make sure I get in all my visits to these schools. However long that takes.”

Posted on: February 16, 2012 12:42 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 1:09 pm

Today's Specials: A battle in the Big Ten

By Jeff Borzello

Thursday's slate is highlighted by two of the best defensive teams in the country going at it, but there are also a slew of bubble teams looking to stay on the right side of the cutline. 

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: No. 15 Wisconsin at No. 7 Michigan State (7 p.m., ESPN). A battle in the Big Ten. Michigan State won the first meeting between the two teams, but that was back on January 3, and things are drastically different nowadays. Michigan State is coming off a win at Ohio State over the weekend, and is now getting Final Four hype. Wisconsin has won seven of its last eight after a three-game losing streak. Don’t expect a ton of points in this one, as both teams rank in the top-three nationally in defensive efficiency. Can the Spartans stifle Jordan Taylor? Can Wisconsin stop Draymond Green?

Second-best game: North Carolina State at No. 5 Duke (9 p.m., ESPN3). If this game was in Raleigh, the Wolfpack would have a better chance, but don’t count them out just yet. They are desperately chasing a profile-making victory, and beating the Blue Devils would vault NC State into every projected field heading down the stretch. Duke is right in the thick of things at the top of the ACC standings. For NC State to pull the upset, it needs to avoid fouling and also get offensive boards. Not letting the shooters get hot would help too.

Another one to watch: West Virginia at Pittsburgh (9 p.m., ESPN). A rivalry game between a couple of teams badly in need of a win. West Virginia has lost five of its last six games to drop to 6-7 in the Big East, and the Mountaineers are now squarely on the bubble. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has fallen off the bubble after its loss at Seton Hall over the weekend. In this one, the offensive rebounding battle should be tremendous. Both teams rank in the top 10 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage, and Kevin Jones is one of the best in the country.

Guaranteed win: There are a couple of easy-looking wins out West. Washington hosts Arizona State (11 p.m., FOX Sports Affiliates) in a game the Huskies need to win in order to keep pace with California at the top of the standings. Meanwhile, after back-to-back losses by Saint Mary’s, the door is open for No. 24 Gonzaga to gain at least a share of the regular-season title. The Bulldogs head to Santa Clara tonight (11 p.m., ESPN2).

Potential upset: It seems strange that Ole Miss is a four-point underdog at home against Vanderbilt (9 p.m, ESPN2), but that makes the Rebels a prime candidate to pull an upset. They need a marquee win to boost their at-large profile, and beating the Commodores would certainly help. To get the win, Ole Miss needs to crash the offensive glass and get to the free-throw line. Defensively, they can’t let John Jenkins beat them. 

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. The Pac-12 is always fun on Thursdays. In addition to the Washington game above, we have Oregon at California (10:30 p.m., Comcast Sports Affiliates) in a big bubble game, and Arizona at Washington State (9 p.m., FOX Sports Affiliates) in a game the Wildcats can’t lose.
  2. By continuing to avoid bad losses, BYU’s at-large profile has looked better and better in recent weeks. The Cougars need to keep winning tonight, at San Francisco (10 p.m., ESPNU).
  3. Bucknell puts its undefeated Patriot League record on the line, against C.J. McCollum and Lehigh (7 p.m., CBS Sports Network).
More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 16, 2012 9:01 am
Edited on: February 16, 2012 11:26 am

Wakeup Call: You have a substitute teacher

Tennessee reacting to the news that I'm running the Wakeup Call for two days. And its win over Arkansas. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

With Matt Norlander in Indianapolis for a few days at the NCAA Mock Selection Committee ordeal, I’m taking over the Wakeup Call today and tomorrow. I’ll admit in advance that I don’t hunt for links as well as Norlander, and you won’t see any of his rock videos at the bottom of this post. Maybe house music anthems, but no rock. 

For tomorrow, feel free to send any links to me via Twitter (@jeffborzello) or email (jeff.borzello@cbsi.com).

- Uh oh, where have we seen this before from Saint Mary’s? Last year. The door is now open for Gonzaga to potentially continue The Streak.

- Might do a full post on this later, but attendance in the ACC is down across the board, and the Wall Street Journal attributes it to four things.

- Virginia Tech is apparently holding out for the NIT; its AD said the Hokies won’t play in the CBI or CIT.

- Oral Roberts and Murray State clinched regular-season titles in the Summit and Ohio Valley, respectively.

- The Big Sky will have 11 teams next season. This year, six teams make the conference tournament. Next season, they’re going with seven teams.

- This has to be the best photo we’ve seen in college basketball this season, right? Seriously, click on it, it's absolutely hilarious.

- Minnesota’s inability to get over the hump against the better teams it’s played will haunt the Gophers come Selection Sunday.

- Ryan Greene covers UNLV for a living, so he seems like a reliable source to break down the MWC/CUSA merger from a basketball standpoint.

- Speaking of Greene, he looks at why UNLV forward Mike Moser isn't getting more publicity for Player of the Year honors. Goodman is quoted, so you can skip over his parts.

- Loyola (Md.) was by itself atop the MAAC just four days ago. Now, the Greyhounds have a slim chance of winning the league after losing to Marist by 17 on Wednesday night.

- The potential for a buzzing college basketball program at Miami was evident on Wednesday against North Carolina, but there’s still room to grow.

- Could Michigan be a sleeper in the Big Ten title race?           

- In honor of Norlander being in Bloomington last night, here’s one man’s list of which 10 jersey numbers he would retire in Indiana history.

Self alley-oops are fun. Ask Hampton's Darrion Pellum.

As always, we need some music to finish things off. And as I said, we’re going to bro out early and often now that I’m in charge of the Wakeup Call (for two days). If you're new to the house music game, Avicii always gets you going.

More College Basketball coverage
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 15, 2012 8:10 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2012 8:15 pm

Mount St. Mary's places Robert Burke on leave

By Jeff Borzello

Yet another head coach is done before the end of the season.

Mount St. Mary’s announced on Wednesday they have placed head coach Robert Burke on administrative leave. Burke requested the leave after talking to university officials earlier in the week, according to a release.

“Decisions like this are never easy and certainly more difficult while our season is in progress,” Director of Athletics Lynne Robinson said.

Assistant coach Matt Henry will be named acting head coach. Henry has been with the Mountaineers for two seasons, after spending six years at Georgetown.

Mount St. Mary’s is 6-19 this season. Burke was 17-40 in the past two seasons since being named head coach in May 2010. 

Posted on: February 15, 2012 3:25 pm

UNC's Marshall: We didn't know how to close games

After the Duke loss, UNC's Kendall Marshall said the team had never been taught how to close out games. (US Presswire)

By Jeff Borzello

Ever since North Carolina collapsed in the final two and a half minutes against Duke last week, we’ve been hearing that the Tar Heels don’t have a killer instinct and can’t put away teams down the stretch.

Sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall’s quote to the Durham Herald-Sun won’t help matters.

Marshall said former Tar Heels guard Shammond Williams came by practice on Friday and talked to the players about finishing games out.

“He just asked us, ‘Has anybody ever explained to you all how to manage a game? You know, how to win a game?’” Marshall said. “And as weird as the question sounds, no.”

Let’s be clear: I don’t think Marshall is saying that the Tar Heels have never practiced late-game situations or run plays to get baskets late in the game. Every team does it (no matter what Larry Drew said two years ago.)

It seems more along the lines of executing down the stretch, having the mental toughness to turn a close game into a comfortable lead late in games. Not letting lesser teams back into games – things that championship teams do on a regular basis.

This season, North Carolina is 1-2 in games decided by three points or fewer. Interestingly, the Tar Heels went 8-1 in those games last season – when the lineup was a year younger and less experienced.

Marshall also added that UNC worked on using the clock late in games after the Duke game – and it worked against Virginia over the weekend. They turned a close game into an 18-point win, ending the game on a 13-2 run.

If the Heels can get the mindset to essentially step on a team’s throat when they’re down, their Final Four aspirations will get a nice boost. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com