Category Archives: College Basketball

Division II women’s basketball: 9 impact players for the 2018-19 season

(From NCAA.com, see the full story HERE)

The road to Columbus, Ohio, for the DII Women’s Basketball Elite Eight is set to tipoff. Last season, Central Missouri claimed the title over a seemingly unbeatable Ashland team in a thrilling finale. Both the Jennies and Eagles enter the season as two of the favorites to get back to the national quarterfinals.

But who are the players that will get them there? Let’s take a look at nine players that can make a big impact on the DII women’s basketball season.

MORE: Expect to see these 10 teams atop the preseason rankings

Jodi Johnson, Ashland

Ashland University Eagles@goashlandeagles

Johnson has some big shoes to fill with two of Ashland’s all-time greats — Andi Daugherty and Laina Snyder — graduating. But if there was any one player to carry that load, it’s Johnson. There was very little she couldn’t do in her breakout sophomore season, taking home consensus Player of the Year honors from every outlet. She can score, averaging 18.7 points per game at a 60.3 percent field goal percentage, and if you leave her open beyond the arc, she will slay you, shooting a new Ashland all-time best 58.1 percent from 3.  Johnson can board, ripping down 5.7 points per game and also dish it out (3.8 assists per game). She’s also DII women’s basketball’s best thief, swiping an incredible 3.7 steals per game. Having to pay constant attention to her elevates the game of Renee Stimpert, who will be one of the best floor generals in DII this season. What Johnson can do for an encore to 2018 will be fun to watch.

Morgan Fleming, Central Missouri

The reigning 2018 national champions return a lot of firepower, but it may rest on Fleming’s shoulders to make an impact. Why Fleming? Gone this season is the Jennies’ muscle inside the paint, Kayonna Lee. We know Central Missouri has scorers and sound defense, but replacing the presence down low will be vital. Fleming went on a tear in the NCAA tournament, pulling down 33 rebounds in six games. She will have plenty of help on the boards from Megan Skaggs, but if Fleming’s elevated presence in the postseason carries over into this season, the Jennies will be dangerous.

MORE: Lubbock Christian upsets SMU in exhibition bout

Hailey Tucker, Southwestern Oklahoma State

SWOSU Athletics@SWOSUAthletics

The Bulldogs have a lot of sleeper appeal entering the 2018-19 season. Tucker has some nice weapons at her side like Hayden Priddy and Bethany Franks, who led the conference in rebounding as a freshman, but her presence is vital to the team’s success. She led the Great American Conference in scoring last season with 20.5 points per game while adding 7.5 rebounds per game. At 6’2” and so athletic inside, the attention paid to Tucker makes Franks that much more dangerous down low, and Priddy, who joined Tucker in the 1,000-point club last season, that more threatening as a scorer. This team has as good a Big Three as any, and if Tucker can match her big 2018, they could make program history this season and make the Elite Eight for the first time.

Haris Price, Carson-Newman

View image on Twitter

NCAA Division II

@NCAADII

The Eagles had a dream season last year, racking up 32 wins and a trip to the Elite Eight. Like Central Missouri, Carson-Newman has a lot of key returners and are in a prime position to make another deep run. Price is the engine that makes the Eagles’ machine roll, a machine that was the third-highest scoring offense in DII women’s basketball season with 90.9 points per game. Not only is she one of the top scorers on a top-scoring team, but she commands the floor offensively and defensively, swiping more than two-and-a-half per game. The Eagles should go far this season, and Price, with players like Mika Webster and Kayla Marosites around her, is poised for a big year.

Hailey Diestelkamp, Drury

GLVC Sports Network@GLVCSN

The Panthers have been an NCAA postseason regular for quite a few years. Diestelkamp does a little bit of everything that continues to make this team a perennial contender. She’s been a model of consistency the past two years, shooting 51 and 52 percent and pulling down 8.2 rebounds in both her freshman and sophomore year. Last year, Diestelkamp became more of a scorer and that trend should easily continue this season. This is another team with a lot of returners ready for a deep run. The continued progression and ever-steady athleticism of Diestelkamp will lead the way.

Rejoice Spivey, Virginia Union

View image on Twitter

HERO Sports WBB@HEROSportsWBB

Virginia Union has become a perennial powerhouse winning 28 games in each of the last three seasons. While Spivey may not finish with the most points or rebounds on this team, she is in a position to make the biggest impact, running the floor for a team that outscored its opponents by 17.4 points per game last season. Spivey was second in DII women’s basketball with 6.9 assists per game, and that experience will be vital in replacing last year’s top scorers Alexis Johnson and Rachael Pecota. If the Panthers want to continue this run of success, a lot of it will fall on Spivey’s abilities as the on-court leader of this offense.

Yazmeen Goo, Alaska Anchorage

The only thing missing from her last name is an “L” because Goo is your quintessential “glue guy”. The Seawolves have better scorers and bigger presences down low who may steal a lot of the limelight stuffing the stat sheets, but a lot of it is from the little things in which Goo excels. Goo had a team-best 132 assists and 89 steals, all while still contributing 8.5 points per game. The Seawolves have been a tough team for the past few seasons, and with Goo in the rotation, nothing should change this year.

Jessica Kelliher, Lewis

View image on Twitter

HERO Sports WBB@HEROSportsWBB

Kelliher had her best season yet last year as a junior, and that’s really saying something. The 6’0” senior has kept the Flyers near the top of a very competitive Great Lakes Valley Conference. The All-American is a point-scoring machine, entering 2018-19 just 14 points shy of 2,000 for her career. She’s led the GLVC in scoring in each of the past two seasons, and all of DII women’s basketball in 2018, but also completely controls the paint averaging 9.0 rebounds and more than a block per game. Kelliher is a dominating force on a Lewis team that should have a dominating season.

Jada Perkins, Union

Union had a monster 32-win season last year, making it to the national semifinals. The Bulldogs will have to replace some big-time scorers including Chelsey Shumpert who was top five in DII women’s basketball with 23.8 points per game. Perkins may not be the one to dominate the scoring, but she can make an impact across the board that keeps the Bulldogs competitive in 2018-19. That said, Perkins can score, but her strength is pacing the tempo, leading the team in both assists and steals. Union only has two seniors returning after its monster season so Perkins leadership and talent will be invaluable in repeating last season’s success.

Others to watch:

Dana Watts, American International; Riley Fitzwater, Concord; Morgan Greene, Cal. State East Bay.

MORE: 2018 championship bracket | History

DII men’s basketball: 5 takeaways from the SCB Hall of Fame Classic

(From NCAA.com; see the full article HERE)

The DII men’s basketball season kicked off this past weekend at the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic. Former champions and tournament regulars tipped off the season in a two-day college basketball extravaganza.

Last year’s national champions, Ferris State, and defending runners-up, Northern State, were on hand as were the schools from the 2016 DII Men’s Basketball Championship title game. When the final whistle blew, two teams left St. Joseph, Missouri unscathed, ready to kick off their schedules a perfect 2-0.

Here are five takeaways from the Hall of Fame Classic.

MORE: NABC preseason poll

Northwest Missouri State opens 2-0 against DII basketball’s best

The Bearcats downed the 2018 national runners-up and defending national champions on consecutive days. Not bad for a team that lost its all-time leading scorer (Justin Pitts) to graduation.

Northwest Missouri State is alive and well, taking down Northern State 72-70 in an overtime thriller and then Ferris State 100-86 in an all-out 3-point assault. Despite losing some key pieces, the Bearcats are clearly ready to ball.

Bearcat Basketball@NWBearcatMBB

Joey Witthus, the Bearcats’ top returner, had a strong showing, scoring 15 and 17 respectively and pulling down 14 boards. Redshirt freshman Trevor Hudgins showed he may be the driving force in a Bearcats run this season, scoring 51 points in his first two games. He added 5.5 assists over the two games to earn MVP honors.

Watch out when the Bearcats get hot. They drained 10 straight 3-pointers to open things up against Ferris State. Northwest Missouri State finished the game 14-for-24 and showed that they are a dangerous team to watch this year.

Tarleton State opens up perfect

Tarleton State heads to the Texan Tip-Off Classic this weekend undefeated. That makes first-year head coach Chris Reisman perfect in his young career. While they have a bevy of people who can score, Josh Hawley played like a total beast.

Small College Basketball@smcollegehoops

Congratulations to the 2018 Small College Basketball Hall of Fame Classic Team

Shaun Willett, Queens

Daniel Carr, Queens

Josh Hawley, Tarleton State

Ian Smith, Northern State

Jason Jolly, Fairmont…

Hawley, known for his defensive prowess, was filling the stat sheet with points and rebounds this weekend. The junior forward is a perfect 2-for-2 in double-doubles, going for 12 and 14 in the opening two-point win over Missouri Western and then 22 and 13 in the 92-81 win over William Jewell. Hawley is definitely one to keep eyes on in Stephenville, Texas this season.

Northern State has a balanced attack once again

Last year, the Wolves made it all the way to the finals on the heels of a team that could hurt you in a few different ways. While Darin Peterka may have been the go-to scorer, that team was deep in players that can put it in the bucket. Nothing has changed in 2018.

View image on Twitter

#GoWolves@WolvesAthletics

Though they dropped the opener to the Bearcats, Northern State fired back to take down a very tough Queens (N.C.) team 87-74. The Wolves got those 87 points behind six players dropping double-digits. Ian Smith is the star and can do everything well, going for 14 points, eight assists, and six rebounds in the victory, but he has a sound supporting cast. Parker Fox is one worth watching, making it to the free throw line 17 times over two days.

MORE: 11 impact players for the 2018-19 season

Queens should contend once again

Having Lincoln Memorial and Queens in the same league is a treat for South Atlantic Conference fans. The Royals lost a few pieces but showed there is still plenty in the tank for another big run.

The Charlotte Post@thecharpost

Shaun Willett is going to do great things this season. We know that because he already has. Willett left Missouri with a pair of double-doubles, scoring 19 points in each of Queens first two games while pulling down 29 total rebounds. Daniel Carr, whose primary role last year was as a key reserve like Willett, showed little trouble adjusting to the role of starter, scoring 35 points and dishing out 14 dimes. Mark your calendars. The Dec. 8 showdown against LMU in Charlotte is going to be a good one.

Missouri Western’s model of consistency

The Griffons fell one basket short of leaving the Hall of Fame Classic undefeated. It certainly wasn’t Lavon Hightower’s doing.

Griffon Athletics@gogriffons

Hightower, Missouri Western’s senior forward, exploded for 52 points, scoring 26 points in both the Griffons two-point loss and seven-point win. He also grabbed 16 rebounds over the weekend. That’s right, he grabbed eight in each game. His game was particularly helpful against Fairmont’s red-hot Jason Jolly who went for 30 in the Griffon’s victory. Missouri Western is certainly hoping he can keep up that consistency straight through March.

MORE: 2018 championship bracket | History

Tripped Up: The Grayson Allen Story

Grayson Allen’s actions are reprehensible and as I write this piece he has been suspended indefinitely. For those of you who are caught up in holiday shopping Grayson Allen deliberately tripped Elon player Steven Santa Ana during Wednesday night’s game. This is the third time in the past 10 months that this action has occurred.

Read more for Dunton’s thoughts on Grayson Allen.

Juan Dixon settling in as head coach with UDC [Interview]

Juan Dixon is no stranger to NCAA basketball. He became a college superstar with Maryland, leading the program to its only national championship in 2002. After a seven-year NBA career, he returned home to the Terrapins and served as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Now, he is taking his knowledge and skills to the University of the District of Columbia as the head coach of its women’s basketball team.

Dixon rose to great heights as a Terrapin. His four-year career would conclude as Maryland’s all-time leading scorer with 2,269 points and raising the 2001-02 National Championship trophy alongside other Maryland greats of lore like Lonny Baxter, Steve Blake, Byron Mouton and Chris Wilcox. He also played his entire career under one of the ACC’s — and NCAA’s — greatest coaches in its history.

Keep reading for more on Dixon’s journey to UDC.

A College basketball preview

Sometimes as a writer, you find a story that is so unique and surreal, that you simply don’t believe that it could be true. Sometimes you hope you are the one lucky enough to write about it.

Unbeknownst to most, there are two Augustana Vikings basketball teams in the nation. One hails from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and the other is in Rock Island, Illinois. One is in Division II and the other is in Division III. Both are entering the 2015-16 season as No.1 in the preseason polls.

That’s not even the half of it. Tom Billeter, head coach of the DII Augustana UNIVERSITY (SD) Vikings and Grey Giovanine, head coach of the DIII Augustana COLLEGE (Ill.) Vikings started their coaching career together under the tutelage of  legendary Arizona Wildcat’s head coach Lute Olsen’s top assistant Scott Thompson. Their five years at Rice University began a friendship that is still strong today.

Billeter’s Vikings came out of nowhere to go 31-3 last year, win both their conference and conference tournament, before being ousted by one point in the regionals of the NCAA tourney. Giovanine’s squad went 27-5, losing in the championship game. Both coach’s teams have a pretty large chip sitting on their shoulder heading into this season.

I was lucky enough to sit down with both coach Billeter and Giovanine and talk about their past together and their present, as they set to open the college basketball season. The story is as good as it sounds, folks, so check out the interview only at NCAA.com by clicking on the link below:

UNIQUE TIES HAVE AUGUSTANA ON TOP OF THE BASKETBALL WORLD

What is Rick Pitino’s fate? Today’s random thoughts

What the heck is going on in Louisville? I — like everyone else — want to know who is telling the truth. I also want to know the thought process behind Katina Powell’s hiring of an attorney. Here is who she chose:

 

 

No lie... this is Larry Wilder, Powell's attorney. I'd rather defend myself than have this piece of trash (too easy?).
No lie… this is Larry Wilder, Powell’s attorney. I’d rather defend myself than have this piece of trash (too easy?).

Is Pitino on borrowed time?

Counterpoint: Let’s Go Kentucky!

Yesterday, Wayniac Nation’s own Mike Dunton gave a pretty convincing argument on why you should be rooting against the Kentucky Wildcats to get to that illustrious 40-0 and win the NCAA Men’s National Championship. Well, folks, I’m hear to tell you that Dunton is stark raving mad and doesn’t know what he is talking about this time.

Let me preface this by making two things perfectly clear. I do not like Kentucky basketball. If you are new to Wayniac Nation, then you are unaware that I am a diehard Syracuse Orange fan. It is my longest sole allegiance in any sport. My disdain for Kentucky is obviously stemmed in the 1996 season. It’s also the reason why Antoine Walker is on my five most hated athletes ever list and why I never cared for Tony Delk or Ron Mercer, and especially that backstabbing Rick Pitino. Jim Boeheim gave Pitino life, and that’s how he repaid him.

I also can’t stand John Calipari. Of course, Coach Cal has become one of the lesser liked coaches, possibly in the history of the game. But my ultimate dislike does not come from the curious ways he has turned around programs like UMass and Memphis and returned Kentucky to dominance. No, my dislike on Coach Cal stems from the one turn he took in the NBA, coaching my beloved New Jersey Nets. His saving grace was that he drafted my favorite Net of all time in Kerry Kittles. He also could do very little with the team in the two and a half years while he was there, and he was supposed to be the savior coming in from UMass. So screw Coach Cal.

That being said, I am rooting for Kentucky to win it all. Why? I have been watching college basketball pretty vividly since 1986. One of the first times I was ever allowed to stay up late and watch a game (of course with a TV in my room, I use the word allowed lightly) was that stupid Keith Smart shot in the Syracuse/ Indiana debacle. I have watched religiously since then, breaking things, cursing out people, and having my stress level from my bracket busting blowing through the roof for nearly three decades. And in that time I have never seen an undefeated season. You know what, I deserve it.

539w

The generation before mine got to see it pretty regularly. It happened twice in the 50s, and then UCLA and John Wooden pretty much forgot how to lose a game for what, 8 years? Then, in 1976 Bobby Knight and his Hoosiers went 32-0 for the last perfect season in Men’s hoops. People also forget that that season, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights entered the Final Four undefeated, which made for a pretty intense March Madness.

My generation? We got the Wichita State Shockers. Exciting Cinderella story, yes. Did anyone think they legitimately had a chance to win it all and go undefeated having to go through Louisville, Michigan, or Syracuse? Unless you went to or were currently attending Wichita State, that answer is a resounding NO.

We live in an era in where the one-and-done rule reigns supreme. I agree with Dunton on the points he made in regards to the rule and its effects on the game, and I also agree that Coach Cal is perhaps the master at figuring out how to win with a bunch of Freshman. Because of the one-and-done rule, we may never have a shot at seeing an undefeated team again. So I repeat, I deserve this.

Should the one-and-done rule change, the only way it would go would be to revert back to the original rule, allowing potential NBA draftees to skip college altogether. There is no way that the NCAA or NBA would ever be able to reach an agreement to make it longer. Should the rule change and go back to allowing high school kids to enter the NBA Draft, our chances at an undefeated season grow even slimmer. In today’s society of YouTube and social media, teams are scouting kids in middle school. LeBron James 10-year old son is basically being harassed by colleges across the nation. Bron doesn’t even know what a college is.

I don’t need to rattle you off stats. If you are filling out a bracket and don’t know who to take because you didn’t pay much attention to this year’s college basketball season, all you need to know is that Kentucky has arguably the best two teams in the nation. You also need to know that Kentucky is so good that Coach Cal doesn’t even need to… recruit kids in a curious manner.

coach cal

“Hey kid,” Coach Cal could say, “Why don’t you come to Kentucky. We are a legendary program. All I need you for is 40 games. I’ll win you a championship and then you’ll get to go make millions in the NBA by the time you’re 19. If you want to stick around for a second year, I will allow it, but I must insist that by the time you turn 20 that you are an NBA Lottery pick and agree to a million dollar contract.”

Tough sell, huh? It’s not about exposure with Kentucky. They have been a legendary program for an eternity. Ever hear of Adolph Rupp? Kenny Sky Walker? Ashley Judd? Kentucky doesn’t just put out top NBA draft picks, they sustain success in the NBA. Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins, and John Wall are amongst the current NBA elite and Anthony Davis may be challenging as the best big in the game.

If you are going to take the I hate Coach Cal approach, that’s fine, but find me a top program who isn’t under the microscope for questionable recruiting practices these days. North Carolina had a rigorous college academic program they seemed to put their basketball players through in order to keep them academically eligible (and Roy Williams suffered no penalty). Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim is dealing with it now (although I hope they lessen the blow during the appeal process because it seemed like an all out attack on him and not Syracuse). Like I wrote months ago about Tom Brady and Bill Belichik, everybody tries to gain an edge. Call it cheating, call it immoral, but it’s competitive nature and the more high-profiled a system is, the more aware the public is.

An undefeated season becomes even harder because of the opposite effect from the one-and-done rule. What Gonzaga started over a decade ago, has been continued by coaches like Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens and continues with teams like Wichita State today.

"<strong

These teams build programs of solid basketball players that won’t dash after one year. They learn team basketball and are mostly in it for the long haul. While the Zags, Butlers, JMUs and George Masons haven’t won a title yet, they show what the advantage of a cohesive team of experience with each other can do. And on the march to the Final Fours, they often take out bigger programs. Call them Cinderella stories, call them underdogs, I call them prepared.

Some people will say college basketball has been down, but I disagree. It is “down” because the playing field is leveling out across the nation. Why do you think a No. 12 seed can seemingly always beat a No. 5 seed? It’s because the same ten schools that dominated college basketball are losing players to “smaller” programs that have shown they can win and hang with the big boys. Why go and be the number four guy in Duke when you can be the head honcho of the feel good story of the tournament? There’s your exposure.

This isn’t about the one-and-done, this isn’t about Coach Cal. This is how it’s always been at Kentucky. And once Coach Cal is gone, it’s going to be how it remains. If college basketball has proven one thing it’s that the elite programs don’t simply disappear. So put you’re hatred aside and realize that we deserve to see an undefeated season.

March Madness: 40-No!!!

Dunton returns for a little pre-Madness rant. He doesn’t want Kentucky to win, unlike yours truly. Today, Wayniac Nation presents to you Dunton’s views on why Kentucky needs to lose. Hold on to your seats, Nation fans, you can bet your March Madness loving’ butts my counterpoint will be coming!

Wanna know why Kentucky needs to lose? Keep reading!

A Trip Down Tobacco Road Without Dickie V.

Welcome back Dunton for his first work of 2015 (slacker). Today, as a longtime UNC fan, he looks into life moving forward without Duke enthusiast Dick Vitale behind the mike for the biggest rivalry in college basketball. It’s a new era in college hoops, and someone isn’t happy:

Dunton’s views on Dickie V ahead