Posted on: December 16, 2011 8:28 am

Wakeup Call: Reeves Nelson heads overseas

I have an eternal undying appreciation of the hoop player that goes for the fro. That's UC Irvine's Michael Wilder in Baton Rouge.

By Matt Norlander

First and foremost, rest in peace, Christopher Hitchens. The world has been robbed 20 years too early of a terrific thinker and writer. // Oh I cannot stop scrolling up and down, back and forth -- awkward family photos for the holidays! // It's the Word of the Year. I use it with frequency. Is that a bad thing? // Another list of the 20 best songs of 2011. I don't agree with 15 of the picks, which means they're doing it right. // So great, even unbelievable: capturing the speed of light on camera. // Breathtaking views (they look like paintings) atop One World Trade Center ...

★ When had our dream teams, and Jameson Fleming took the concept upon himself and put a twist on it.

★ Reeves Nelson is off to Lithuania to play basketball.

★ Former Boston College stud Troy Bell is now an R&B artist ... and it's actually not all that bad -- and I'm not even a guy with a whole lot of R. Kelly, Joe and Luther Vandross in his iTunes library. (Plenty of Boyz II Men, of course.)

★ Damian Lillard is not only the nation's leading scorer, he's also the most efficient offensive player.

★ Scary, but looks like everything's going to be OK for the Utah redshirt sophomore who needed brain surgery.

★ Things get thinner for suffering Siena.
★ It's not all love here in the Wakeup Call. In an effort to be fair to readers, it's right to point out pieces I disagree with here and there. This -- and I'm not alone here -- is among the most confounding things written about hoops I've seen so far this season.

★ I feel the need to state this often, because his voice on TV can be so polarizing, but Dick Vitale is one of the most generous, kind, grateful people in all of sports.

★ Sebastian Pruiti is the godfather of screengrab/coachspeak/basketball teaching; everyone else is just tracking his footsteps in the snow. Here he is examining Missouri and making the case the Tigers are the most complete team in the nation.

★ Fran Fraschilla's son, a walk-on at Oklahoma, is creating trick-shot videos for the best reason possible: to raise awareness for charity.

★ Butler's under .500, in case you missed it. A closer look why this was destined to happened.

★ Remember when Billy Gillispie wanted that eighth-grader to come to Kentucky? Check who the kid committed to yesterday.

★ An under-the-radar but noteworthy "huh?" story so far: Why's LIU playing this poorly? That team has 13 seed potential.

★ Just in case you were wondering, ESPN owns most of the NCAA programming until you become a grandparent/are dead.

★ FIU doesn't exactly bring in the peeps.

★ One of the best big men in the country you haven't heard about.

► This guy does these things for all sports. It's got potential. Needs more Cougars.

♬ One of the oldest Christmas classics out there. Also, among my five favorite King tunes. We all have our own impressions of this song, question is: Are you brave enough to unleash it in public, at a party, or do you save it for the shower/your car?

Posted on: December 15, 2011 9:35 am

Oregon transfer Jabari Brown looking at pair

By Jeff Goodman

It's looking like a two-horse race for Jabari Brown.

Brown, a talented and highly touted player coming out of high school in California, had some issues in his brief tenure at Oregon and opted to bolt the Ducks after just two games.

The 6-foot-4 Brown visited Missouri this past weekend for the Tigers game against Navy - and sources told CBSSports.com that Georgia Tech, where he is expected to visit this week, is the other school he is seriously considering.

Brown would be a huge addition for either program talent-wise, although there are certainly red flags pertaining to his abrupt departure from Dana Altman's team.

Brown started both games and averaged 25.5 minutes. He struggled and was just 3-of-11 in the two games with 11 turnovers.

But Missouri coach Frank Haith, who has transfers Ernest Ross (Auburn) and Keion Bell (Pepperdine) already sitting out, could use Brown as a replacement for seniors Marcus Denmon and Kim English.

Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory needs to upgrade the talent since taking over the program - and while Brown appears to be a risk, he would certainly do that.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:03 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 1:32 am

Night Court: Belmont & MTSU have another thriller

Jeff Borzello

Here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday’s slate of college basketball games …

Game of the day: Considering the first meeting between Belmont and Middle Tennessee this season went to double overtime, we should have seen a great game coming. In this one, Middle Tennessee prevailed by three, despite going 2-for-6 from the free throw line in the final 40 seconds. Belmont couldn’t convert down the stretch, going 0-for-3 from the field with two turnovers in the final 71 seconds. Middle Tennessee's crowd rushed the court after the win, as seen above.

Win to brag about: It’s not the most impressive win on paper, but Wisconsin-Milwaukee was undefeated at home this season. Therefore, Wisconsin going in there and coming out with a six-point win is nothing to scoff at. Wisconsin looked like it would roll to an easy win, but UWM went on a 16-1 run midway through the second half to make it a game. Jordan Taylor’s 3-pointer in the final minute clinched the game for the Badgers.

Loss to hide from: Nothing in the way of embarrassing losses on Tuesday, as no teams above .500 besides Belmont and UW-Milwaukee lost.

Player who deserves improper benefits: It was against Rochester College, but Oakland’s Drew Valentine’s performance was impressive nonetheless. The junior forward totaled 20 points and 15 boards, shooting 8-for-10 from the field and knocking down two 3-pointers.

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Mississippi State made sure it didn’t suffer a repeat of last season, staving off a late rally by Florida Atlantic to get a seven-point win. If the Owls were to pull off the upset two years in a row, they needed a big-time game from guard Greg Gantt. However, the junior only had five points on 2-for-5 shooting. He averages nearly 14 points per game on the season.

Numbers don’t lie:

  • Despite its win over double-overtime win over NAIA Point University tonight, Alcorn State has still not defeated a Division-I team since February 26 of last season.
  • Niagara went 14 minutes and 11 seconds without a field goal in the second half against Drexel, part of the reason the Dragons had a 29-4 run. Niagara fell 71-58.
  • Wyoming won 10 games in each of the past two seasons. The Cowboys’ win over UC-Irvine on Tuesday was their 10th already this year.

Three other notable results:

  1. J’Covan Brown scored 23 points to lead Texas to a 93-40 win over Nicholls State. The Longhorns held Nicholls without a field goal for 15:37.
  2. Villanova bounced back from a three point halftime deficit against Boston University with 45 points in the second stanza. ‘Nova won 68-43.
  3. Michigan racked up 17 assists on 22 field goals in its 63-50 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.


  • In his fourth game back from the football team, South Carolina's Bruce Ellington scored a season-high 15 points in an eight-point win over Presbyterian.
  • Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally only combined for 26 points on Tuesday, but Jamie Serna stepped up with 22 and five blocks in a win for UC-Santa Barbara.
  • Marcus Jordan was suspended for UCF’s weekend win over Bethune Cookman, but he bounced back with a career-high 28 points against North Carolina A&T.
  • Oregon State’s Robert Nelson is heating up. In his last four games, the guard is averaging 15.0 points per game.

On tap: It’s another light day in the college basketball world, but there are some interesting tilts. Cincinnati returns to the court for the first time since the brawl, while Iona travels to Richmond.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:35 pm

Aziz N'Diaye to miss 2-3 games with sprained knee

By Jeff Borzello

Washington has lost four of its last five, and needs to find its groove before Pac-12 play begins in two weeks.

Unfortunately, the Huskies will need to turn things around without 7-footer Aziz N’Diaye, who sprained his right knee against Duke and will miss the next two or three games.

“I’m not playing Friday or this weekend at all,” N’Diaye told Percy Allen of the Seattle Times. “I know my knee is not ready for that. I’m going to start rehab today or tomorrow. Go from there. Miss the next couple of games, but I’ll be back.”

N’Diaye is the team’s leading rebounder (8.8 per game) and shot-blocker (2.0), and also averages 7.1 points per game. He has struggled offensively in the past month, totaling just 18 points in the last four contests.

Luckily for Washington, the next three teams on the schedule aren’t big man oriented. However, UC Santa Barbara features a dynamic scoring duo in Orlando Johnson and James Nunnally, who combine to average 42.5 points. South Dakota State and Cal State Northridge shouldn’t pose much of a challenge.

The Huskies will need N’Diaye back for conference play, however. Without him in the middle, look for Lorenzo Romar to go with four perimeter players and Darnell Gant in the middle. Tony Wroten has come off the bench, but he could get a starting nod alongside Abdul Gaddy, C.J. Wilcox and Terrence Ross.

At 4-4, Washington needs to turn things around quickly – with or without N’Diaye.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted on: December 12, 2011 8:36 am

Wakeup Call: Wait, who coaches Memphis?

By Matt Norlander

It seems a 17-year-old has come up with a big breakthrough in curing cancer. She's 17. You did what over the weekend? // Old Loves Tumblr is inspiring, bittersweet. // I've not run into an autocorrect issue yet, but are the funniest Damn You Autocorrects from 2011. // People who spend thousands on decorating their houses for Christmas ...

★ Great buzzer-beater from Saturday that you missed, the one that wasn't Indiana over Kentucky.

The story behind that photo.

★ There have been a few really good pieces written about the Xavier-Cincinnati brawl. This is one of them.

★ This is another.

★ And so's this.

★ One more. Props to Brennan for getting tough, something he should do more often.

★ Hey, this is great reporting that we wish would never have been done. After it fell off the newswires, Kevin Armstrong went to Arkansas to report on the plane crash that killed the Oklahoma State women's coach and assistant last month.

★ Georgetown player out indefinitely because of heart problems. Scary, but thankful it was caught now.

★ How/why Kansas State almost lost to North Florida Sunday night.

★ That's a depressing scene.

★ This remains true.

★ We've all pretty much moved on from UCLA at this point, but these stats about Ben Howland's commitments are worth seeing.

★ Yes, yes, yes. Loved this from Ryan Greene. Michigan State got one of its patented great, tough, under-the-radar wins Saturday. Going into Spokane? Respect that.
★ The best dunk I saw from the weekend.

★ You can see below this blog post that Parrish wrote about Murray State going undefeated. Here's another take on it and the chances of that happening.

► This KILLED me. How do you make this mistake? It's been more than two years! Such bombast, such unawareness.

♬ I'm deviating from my normal band/artist recommendation of the day and spending the next two weeks counting down (in no real order, I guess) my favorite Christmas tunes. I debated also posting a MISERABLE Christmas song to counter it, but why be a downer? We start with Andy Williams. If you can't get with this, you can't show up to my part in your best December sweater.

Photo: AP
Posted on: December 10, 2011 2:35 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 3:47 pm

Duke gets sloppy, still wins easy over Washington

By Matt Norlander

NEW YORK — Light your torches in Durham, but I must ask: Why can’t I fully buy into this Duke team as elite yet?

I know the answer: because it's not yet put it all together, nor should it necessarily should at this juncture. Disagree? Then you side against me and Duke's players, who agree the team is not yet consistently playing at the highest of levels.

“We can get better. There’s things we must work on,” Austin Rivers said after Dukes 86-80 win Saturday afternoon over Washington. “For instance, we were up 17. At our full potential, we don’t let up that lead.”

Saturday's game in Madison Square Garden wasn’t ever in doubt, but Duke’s 86-80 W in a blasé way. The Blue Devils shot badly from the foul line (61.4 percent), saw Rivers and Seth Curry foul out, but still coasted past a Huskies team that will now have to play for its life to earn bubble-worthy talk in about six weeks. Duke also had 15 turnovers (five coming from Curry) and 21 hacks in an ugly 50-foul game.

This isn’t me doubting Duke as a top-10 team — in fact, just the opposite. I think when you play as badly as they did Saturday and still beat a plenty-capable team without too much trouble, it’s a very good sign. Washington’s a team that, even if it can’t ever string together a slew of Ws in a row, it won’t ever be an easy out.

“It’s frustrating because we played better than a six-point win,” Rivers said. “There goes your two best scorers on the team, and I think the main thing is, we started getting complacent. We basically just got safe instead of attacking — that’s what got us the lead in the first place.  The first half we were playing defense, making them turn the ball over, getting charges, and every time we got a rebound we kept attacking, attacking. And then we get this 18-point lead, and it’s like, ‘All right, let’s calm down.’”

But with Duke, there’s an ingredient there that’s not quite mixing in yet. If it was playing at its peak today, it’d have beaten Washington by 25. Instead, it won by six. This sounds like nit-picking, but that’s what happens when you’re Duke, you’re so good every year and the expectations of your team are top-five-in-the-nation level. Duke can get there; it's not playing like it just yet.

“It was weird, because we thought we played better for the whole game until the last five minutes. We should’ve won more than by what we did,” Curry said. “We weren’t aggressive until the end.”

It was only the second time Curry’s ever fouled out in his college career. Perhaps Curry's issues at point guard are the legitimate long-term concern, but at least he's aware of it. And at least Duke's in a better position with him than a team like Vanderbilt, which seems downright handcuffed at the 1, where Duke might just be tied up at the moment.

“We’re still finding our rotations, how guys are going to play where, and I’m still trying to work on my point-guard ability,” Curry said. “The biggest thing is trying to find my scoring, these past few games I haven’t been scoring as much as I usually do. I need to balance my scoring abilities with running the team.”

Yes, absolutely, part of it was Washington, which can be so erratic but also continues to draw us in because of the natural talent, speed and ability on Lorenzo Romar's team. Duke’s players said Washington’s backcourt was the best they’ve faced this season.

Mike Krzyzewski looked to the free throws as the reason it was so close at the end. Totally legitimate, but if Duke remains aggressive and plays with gusto, free throws aren't an issue. Mason Plumlee was the worst of it, going 2-of-11, but he's a 42-percent foul shooter as it is. There's not much you can do to fix that in three months' time.

“We must get better at free throws, and we cannot let up at any point in the game,” brother Miles Plumlee said. “But when we get up sometimes, people get settled. … We’ve let up in almost every game.”

Duke teams letting up ... sounds out of character, right? The Devils have the pieces, and I think eventually Rivers needs to be given the keys without abandon, but for now, a little more toughness and aggressiveness is what's got to come as Duke heads toward the new year.


Quick note on Rivers, who's had his fair share of criticism just seven weeks into his college career. As of late, the chirping has piped down on his game. I asked him if he'd heard, known, paid attention to the scrutiny. He said yes, but is a media-savvy kid. You can tell when you talk to him that he gets the game. I think his quotes above the asterisk right there and down below are telling to who he is.

“It just made me more motivated, to tell you the truth,” Rivers said. “I thought I was actually playing well, the coaches though it was doing everything in needed to do. The media got on me a little bit, but they haven’t gotten on me since, because I fixed things. … They’ve all said positive things since, so whatever I’ve been doing, I guess it’s been right.”

The matter was never addressed in practice, Rivers said.

“I started calming down, realizing how to play my game through the college game,” he said. “I got it. I can play now.”

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 9, 2011 2:17 pm

Arizona State freshman finally ruled ineligible

By Jeff Goodman

As if things weren't already difficult enough for Herb Sendek at Arizona State, now comes word from the NCAA that the Sun Devils heralded point guard Jahii Carson won't be eligible to play this season.

The NCAA finally rendered its decision on Carson - considered one of the top floor leaders in the freshman class and a Top 50 recruit nationally.

The news was confirmed by Arizona State spokesman Doug Tammaro.

According to sources, Carson fell just short on a necessary ACT score related to the NCAA's sliding academic scale. He'll be allowed to practice with the team this season, but Sendek and the struggling Sun Devils could sorely use Carson now.

Arizona State is 3-5 overall with losses coming against Pepperdine, New Mexico, Fairfield, DePaul and Nevada.

Carson was expected to take the reigns of the team from the get-go, but instead it's been Iowa State transfer Chris Colvin and Keala King who have shared the ball-handling duties thus far.

It seems like an eternity ago that Sendek appeared to have things in order out in Tempe, when James Harden led the Sun Devils to the second round of the NCAA tournament. However, Arizona State finished 12-19 last season and appear to be headed for a similar record this year.

That's the bad news.

The good is that Arizona State could have a potent backcourt a year from now, once Carson, Liberty transfer Evan Gordon (Eric's little brother) and Hawaii transfer Bo Barnes all become eligible. Leading scorer Trent Lockett is a junior and King, who has played well thus far, is just a sophomore.
Posted on: December 9, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 2:06 pm

Source: UCLA dismisses Reeves Nelson

By Gary Parrish

Reeves Nelson was dismissed from the UCLA basketball team on Friday, a source told CBSSports.com.

An official announcement is expected soon.

Nelson was UCLA's best player, but he's been a problem throughout his career because of his inability to be a decent teammate. The 6-foot-8 forward was suspended Tuesday for the second time this season after being benched during last weekend's loss to Texas. Coach Ben Howland had previously given Nelson countless opportunities to correct his attitude but nothing ever changed. Consequently, the junior who received All-American consideration in the preseason is now off the team and free to transfer into another program that might be willing to take a troubled-but-gifted prospect.

Nelson averaged 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds in 31.3 minutes per game last season.

He was averaging 5.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game this season.

UCLA is 2-5 with its lone wins coming aganst Chaminade and Pepperdine.

The Bruins play Penn on Saturday.

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