Thursday, April 17, 2014

No high ground to be had?

Is there any high ground to be had involving DI college basketball?

Yes, the question is a facetious one yet...

There's the unctuous NCAA, gathering in all the riches, especially from the Big Dance, and now just offering additional crumbs from the training table for their 'student-athletes' to consume.

Try ADs in charge of hiring the right coach for this or that opening yet some choose to bring in buddies as if operating a personal employment agency whereby allegiance to friends is more apparent than to any college or university.

There are coaches with a minimal amount of behavioral and actions black marks against them but always remember that at such a level it is a business enterprise. Hiring and firings are determined simply by wins and losses and all other talk about graduation rates and modeling behavior is promotional collegiate claptrap. Purity is extremely hard to maintain when such may result in being out of work, having to move, uprooting the kids, et al.

Don't forget the parents, handlers and hangers-on who demand their cut of the pie when, in reality, an
infinitesimally minute number ever actually contribute anything towards the well-being of a prospect.

Plus, the equation would be incomplete without the fans who, for the most part, are willing to sell their soul in order for 'their' team to win. Just ask this question in college towns around the country: would you accept 'your' team finishing with a .500 record if each player graduated and was well equipped to be successful post college? Granted, sodium pentothol might need to be administered to get at the actual truth.

Hey, we haven't even gotten to the kids.

So offer thanks to the individuals in all these categories who really do strive to do best for themselves, for the kids and for all others around them. It's hard to do right when enmeshed in a system where values are all askew.

The Gaels of this season versus 2012-13

Coach Randy Bennett's crew finished a very respectable 23-12 overall, 11-7 in the West Coast Conference this season but all didn't seem copacetic. A certain synchronicity appeared missing, an absence of an our-five-play-as-one-better-than-yours edge. With a fourth place finish when no lower than second is deemed as acceptable by Gael-ites, it didn't feel like a typical Bennett-like season..

Yet look at s-o-m-e of the Gael versus opponents numbers of this recently concluded season (no, these are not the in-depth analytics so popular nowadays):

* 71.5 to 65.5 overall scoring in favor of the Bennett-ites

* 45% to 45% overall shooting

* 38% to 34% in long distance shooting with 163 more Moraga trey attempts than opponents

* 71% to 71% foul shooting but, again, 141 more St. Mary's tries

* a 34 to 30 per game Moraga rebounding advantage

* 57 more Gael assists, a tie in turnovers, a tie in steals

So most of the categories are close, leading to the idea that ending at 23-12, 11-7 is actually pretty damn remarkable.


So how did the Gaels perform when Matty D was a senior and still aboard? Try 29-7, a second place 14-2, with a 74.6 to 62.9 per game point differential.

* 47% to 42% overall shooting

* even at 37 in long distance shooting with 205 more Moraga attempts

* even at the foul line but with 44 more St. Mary's tries

* a 37 to 29 per game Bennett rebounding advantage

* 128 more assists, a tie in turnovers, a tie in steals

So a majority of the most important statistics display a lessening in advantages.

Now Brad Waldow returns in 2014-15, which is a plus but too often there was no other fellow frontcourter enjoying a plus night. With Stephen Holt departing, it's also going to be difficult for the group of Gael backcourters to win their positional battles each game. The addition of Stanford's Aaron Bright will help but he's not a major difference-maker. Joe Coleman, from Minnesota, will also be coming off a redshirt season and he looks to have the capacity to replace the graduating Stephen Holt.

It's going to be very interesting in Moraga come next season. Can the magic return?

Spring and summer tourney list

Jeff Borzello has compiled a handy list of the major AAU tournaments happening this spring and summer

Five Rams moving up so far

Thus far, City College of San Francisco has Dulani Robinson heading to Pacific, Gemeny Givens to St. Mary's, TX, Josh Fox to UC Davis, Kanu Aja to East Carolina plus Sami Eleraky also moving up to Stockton.

There should be at least two more to come with Kori Babineaux and Chuks Iroegbu uncommitted.

Sac State stocks up

Sacramento State athletics offers informational bios on each of the new Hornet talents -- four new high schoolers (Marcus Graves, Jiday Ugbaja, Mason Stuteville and James Herrick) plus there's a prep talent (Justin Strings) who signed back in November. It's a pair of guards, two forwards plus a center.

Wormley to become a Gator

Per YubaMen'sHoops: "Here's another one!! Congrats to Floyd Wormley (Highlands HS) on signing his full ride to SF State!!"

The 6-foot-7, 200 pound sophomore was a Bay Valley Conference First Team honoree.

Williams goes with Adams State

Per CCSF Men's Basketball, 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Travante Williams is moving on to Adams State in Colorado. He averaged 8.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists this past season, shooting 56%, 31% and 73% respectively for the Rams.

Two other players originally from Alaska are on the AS roster as is an assistant coach plus Bay Area basketball figure Troy Johnson is an Adams State assistant coach. The Grizzlies are coming off a 17-10 overall season, 13-9 in the DII Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

Video on Jordan Ford

Do take a look at sophomore backcourter Jordan Ford performing in a couple of games. Yes, it is a highlight film and the defensive efforts against the Folsom High court leader are poor but look at how he keeps his head up all the time so he can monitor the floor:

A Vinnie Safin interview

hoopswhisperer at Mid Major Hoops Report serves up a written Q-and-A with Rocklin High's Vinnie Safin who is playing this spring and summer with the Nor Cal Pharaohs Elite.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Noah Blackwell interview

hoopswhisperer @ Mid Major Hoops Report serves up a written Q-and-A with Woodcreek High's Noah Blackwell who is playing this spring and summer with Team Superstar.

Fox moving up to UC Davis

 (photo courtesy of Eric Sun)

It's not always true but there are certainly times it takes greater resolve to accept that a current situation just isn't a good fit and then work to achieve a more conducive latitude and longitude. Josh Fox has done this and now he'll be attending UC Davis and playing basketball for Coach Jim Les.

At 6-foot-6 and coming out of Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep, Fox went with UC Riverside. As a freshman, his quickness and jumping ability contributed to averaging 9.3 points and a team-leading 6.5 rebounds a game before he was sidelined late in the season with a torn ACL.

That injury, a more deliberate Highlander offensive system than he expected plus a 6-25 record raised doubt about his initial decision. Ultimately, Fox transferred to City College of San Francisco for the 2013-14 season where he played on a team that finished 29-2. He contributed 9.0 points, 5.0 boards and 1.4 assists per contest, all the while still engaged in getting his leg back to 100%. Fox shot 47% overall, 37% from long distance and 71% at the foul line.

"I wanted to play [this season] and they put me on the perimeter," he explained. He has been continually working to improve his jump shot.

Davis liked what they saw -- Fox also had a career high of 22 points as a freshman against, you guessed it, the Aggies -- and extended an offer which was accepted.

So why the move up of 75 miles?

"I liked the [playing] style and the coaching staff. Coach Les and I hit it off, there was an instant connection."

The Aggies stumbled to a 9-22 record this season this season but did so minus two key frontcourt talents. The best inside player, 6-foot-7 JT Adenrele, was sidelined in August with a left knee injury and didn't play at all. 6-foot-9 Josh Ritchart participated in nine games before a lower leg injury put him out for the rest of the season. Each is expected to be back and healthy.

As to what Aggie fans will be seeing from Fox, he offered, "I play really tough and I'll bring that to the team."

A native of Fiji, Fox grew up playing rugby. He was four when the family moved to Los Angeles (Westchester), it was the Lakers resigning supreme with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal. Fox particularly seizes upon Bryant's uber competitiveness.

Another influence was his old brother Conrad, who later played at Sonoma State. "We were really competitive. I didn't want to be as good as him but better than him whether it be grades or playing Madden."

Speaking of the former, academics is a strong suit. "I owe that all to my Mom, she pushes me, saying I'm a student-athlete. Growing up, if my grades weren't good then I couldn't play."

He's looking to major in business with more of an organizational bent.

Asked where he will be positioned, Fox said, "All around the floor. The coaches say I'll be a matchup nightmare."

A query regarding what advice he would offer to high school seniors, Fox first offered his bonafides -- "I've gone through recruiting twice" -- then said, "Take your time. Go on visits and make sure you talk to the coaches. You can't have any second guesses."

Ocon moving to the Heartland

From Diablo Valley College Men's Basketball: "Congrats to DVC big man John Ocon for committing to Ottawa University!"

Ocon is a 6-foot-8, 280 pound sophomore out of Fairfield High. Ottawa U is a Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference NAIA school.

This is the third Viking moving on so far (Jermaine Edmonds heading to Montana and Tom Witzel to Humboldt State).

More on Bobbitt going with Hawaii

Hawaii basketball beat reporter Brian McInnis offers a bit more on Roderick Bobbitt joining up with the Rainbow Warriors.

Doolin welcomed at UNLV

Maybe because it the first day of the signing period but Matt Youmans writes about Cody Doolin joining the UNLV basketball team.

One scout on AG

From an Adam Zagoria article about Arizona hoops:
"...[Aaron] Gordon is a great athlete,” one veteran NBA scout told “He’s not a 3, but an energy guy who needs to become a more skilled perimeter player. He has good upside and will be a backup to start his NBA career..."