Monday, November 24, 2014

Morning News: West Virginia Over UConn, LaDontae Henton's 38, Florida St's Jump Shooting, And Cullen Neal Injured

The newly eligible Danuel House welcomed himself to his new teammates with a bang.

West Virginia Defeats UConn The UConn Huskies were "shorthanded", kind of. Four players were suspended for the game for breaking team rules, but two were unused walk-ons, one was the already-injured Omar Calhoun, and one was the lightly used Rakim Lubin. So the suspensions weren't why they lost - horrible shooting was. The Huskies went 3-for-17 behind the arc, only hit 50% at the line, and ended up throwing in 19 turnovers once they had to force offense more.

Juwan Staten was the preseason Big 12 Player of the Year, and this is the first time so far this season that he's really looked like that type of player. His 21 points were a game and season high, and he also tied for the team lead with three assists. And this marks a good win for a West Virginia team that entered this game 4-0 on the season, but without a particularly impressive result. West Virginia has a relatively soft non-conference schedule, so they're going to enter conference play with a very strong W-L record. But they needed a quality win, and now they have one.

This is not a result for UConn fans to panic about. West Virginia will likely finish in the RPI Top 50, so this won't be a "bad" loss. And the Huskies have a chance to bounce right back with a shorthanded Texas team coming to Storrs on Sunday.

LaDontae Henton Goes For 38 Very few people pay attention to college basketball on an NFL Sunday, but LaDontae Henton's performance deserves attention. Henton poured in 38 points on 14-for-19 shooting, including 4-for-8 behind the arc. And he did it despite Notre Dame even breaking out of their usual match-up zone to try to do everything they could to shut Henton down. And on Providence's final offensive possession, it was Henton drawing contact and hitting a couple of free throws to give the Friars the one point victory.

Notre Dame has to be really disappointed to lose this game considering how well they played. Jerian Grant had 20 points and 6 assists, as all five starters scored in double digits. It's certainly not good for their Tournament resume either. But watching this entire game in person, I actually felt more confident after watching it that the Irish were a Tournament quality team. Their lack of bench depth is a problem, of course, but their starting lineup is so strong and balanced. They get a huge chance to bounce back from this loss on December 3rd, when they'll take on Michigan State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

This win after the thumping of Florida State finishes off a very strong and successful weekend for Providence hoops. I moved them into my bracket projection over the weekend, and that was even before this victory. They don't need to win that road game at Kentucky coming up, but the key going forward will be not going backward with bad losses.

Florida State's Jump Shooting Fails Them If The Seminoles had a single player capable of hitting a jump shot, they would have beaten UMass. They shot 16% on jump shots for the game, hitting just four shots all game long outside the paint. The starting lineup aside from Xavier Rathan-Mayes shot 3-for-19 from the field. Although I guess the bright spot for the Seminoles has to be that freshmen Rathan-Mayes and Phil Cofer (8 points and 12 rebounds) both had breakout games. So there's hope for the future. But for this season, the Florida State offense is just too disjointed. If you can't hit a shot, the opposition can just pack the paint against you, which is all UMass had to do here.

Cady Lalanne only finished with 14 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, but he anchored and directed the UMass defense, and the team is clearly so much better when he is on the floor. This is a nice win for them, but this was also an ideal opponent for them. The Minutemen seem to lack the explosive offensive players required to beat Top 25 quality teams. They have a really fascinating week and a half coming up, with a home game against Northeastern followed by a road game at Harvard and a road game at LSU. All three of those games would be fairly good wins for the Minutemen, and all are also very losable.

Cullen Neal Injured Cullen Neal isn't just the coach's son, he's also leading New Mexico with 17.0 points per game. But he's going to be out injured for a while now, though the precise time table isn't known yet. New Mexico had a rough time in Puerto Rico, losing to Texas A&M and Boston College while only beating a bad George Mason team. Throw in an injury to Arthur Edwards as well, and their at-large hopes are already starting to slip away.

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