Under The Radar At The 2017 PIT

These are some of the players that opened some eyes of scouts at the 65th annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.

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Zach LeDay 6’7 235 Virginia Tech – Leday is an undersized power forward. He makes up for that with a solid frame and good length. His range doesn’t extend past 17-18 feet. He will need to develop his mid range to be more successful at the next level. He is relentless at attacking the paint through straight line drives and will challenge shot blockers. LeDay makes up for his lack of size with his high motor on both ends of the floor.

 

Tim Kempton 6’10 250 Lehigh – The two-time Patriot League player of the year showed flashes of why he was so successful at Lehigh. Kempton is a very physical player. He can post players up or even be effective in the mid range. He is still extending his range, but has the potential to eventually be a decent three-point option if left open. Kempton has a pro body and can dish out the physicality necessary to play the center position as a pro. He should get some looks for the NBA summer league, if not he will be a solid pro overseas.

 

Emmanuel Omogbo 6’8 210 Colorado State – Omogbo is a high level athlete. Very explosive leaper and has a relentless motor. He finishes breakaways with dunks and never shy’s away from potential shot blockers. Emmanuel is not the most polished player on offense. His jumper is a work in progress. His scoring comes off hustle plays or “garbage” baskets. On defense he is a work-horse. He plays solid on and off ball and has the potential to be a lockdown perimeter defender.

 

Sebastian Saiz 6’8 245 Ole Miss – Saiz is a extremely long 7’5.5 wingspan. He is an average athlete that lacks explosiveness, but makes it up with his relentless effort. Saiz has a decent mid range game extending to 17 feet, he is still working on his three-point range. He still has room to improve his post game, he needs to make more decisive quick moves and work on finishing with both hands. On defense, Saiz affects a lot shots in the paint, but may struggle with foul trouble due to being over zealous to block shots.

 

T.J. Williams 6’3 205 Northeastern – Williams has a pro ready body. He is a physical point guard and a solid athlete. He is not overly explosive or quick but understands how to use angles and exploit mismatches on the perimeter. He will need to improve as a three-point shooter however as he was just 33% this year. Williams has a solid feel in the pick and roll and has the ability to get all the way to the rim or dish it to open teammates. He is a steady point guard that also has the ability to score.

 

Jeremy Senglin 6’1 188 Weber State – Strong build, but lacks height to play at high level. He is an average athlete, but he finds ways to be effective as a scorer. He is a solid three-point shooter especially in the catch and shoot. Senglin made 11 of 23 three-pointers in the three games. His ball handling needs to tighten up, as well as his playmaking ability to get others involved. He is more of a combo guard. Senglin is a solid on ball defender. Very physical, but his lack of height and overall athleticism limits him to guarding just the point guard slot.

 

Matt Jones 6’5 200 Duke – Jones had a solid tournament on both ends of the floor. He displayed an ability to hit the three, as well as play solid on and off ball defense. Jones has potential to be a solid 3&D type player. He looks like a safe bet to play overseas and carve out a solid career. His limited playmaking ability and isolation capabilities would make it extremely hard for him to advance to the NBA level.

 

Erik McCree 6’8 226 Louisiana Tech – McCree is a flat out scorer. He needs to extend his range and work on his three-point jumper. Anywhere from 18 feet and in McCree has a consistent stroke. He is most effective when driving to the basket. As a solid athlete and a having a strong frame, McCree has the ability to finish in the lane or draw contact to get to the line. He will have to put more work in on defense to prove he is more than a one-dimensional player.

 

Walton Jr. And Michigan Start Cinderella Run Early

Walton Jr. And Michigan Start Cinderella Run Early

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The Michigan Wolverines defeat the Wisconsin Badgers by a final score of 71-56. Derrick Walton Jr. and Michigan completed an unlikely run to a Big Ten title in the nations capital. The Michigan Wolverine’s overcame an unfortunate plane accident during takeoff on Wednesday and seized the opportunity that lay ahead in running the table at the Big Ten tournament. This Wolverine squad is clicking on all cylinders and poses as a real threat to make a run in the NCAA tournament. Walton was named Big Ten tournament MVP and has been the catalyst for Michigan’s late season surge. The Wisconsin Badgers were playing well coming into the title game, but they really struggled from the floor only shooting 39% on the day.

 

Derrick Walton Jr. has shown a capability to lead his team to a level that many didn’t think was possible just a couple of weeks ago. Walton, a stat sheet stuffer as a point guard, finished with 22 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Walton is an elite level penetrator and when he may struggle with his shot at times he seems to always create other opportunities for his teammates. Walton will be the most important player for the Big Ten champs heading into next weeks NCAA tournament.

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Also leading the charge for Michigan was fellow senior guard Zak Irvin. Irvin tallied 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists. The lengthy guard has been shooting at a high level recently and is extremely effective from the mid range or when driving the lane. Irvin will be a huge part of Michigan’s offense and defense if they plan on continuing their magical run late into March. The other bright spot for the Wolverines was junior power forward D.J. Wilson. Wilson played a solid tournament and was an anchor in the post. The solidly built forward (6’10 240) is a physical player with an ability to stretch the floor as well. He provided a toughness that was definitely needed against a scrappy Wisconsin squad. Wilson finished with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.

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Wisconsin struggled to get any offense going during the contest. They had 15 turnovers and only shot 39% on the day. They had zero points from their bench. Wisconsin is normally a team that spreads the ball around and gets contributions from everyone to some extent. That was not the case Sunday. Wisconsin was completely out of rhythm and ran into a buzz-saw in Michigan. Nigel Hayes had 14 points, eleven rebounds and two blocks. Ethan Happ had 14 points, eleven rebounds and three assists. Senior point guard Bronson Koenig scored 15 points.

 

The all tournament team was as follows

 

Ethan Happ

Nigel Hayes

Bronson Koenig

Zak Irvin

Derrick Walton Jr. – Most Outstanding Player

NCAA Tournament Schedule

 

Michigan will be a 7 seed in the Mid West Bracket and face 10 seed Oklahoma State Friday at 12:15 p.m.

Wisconsin will be an 8 seed in the East bracket and face 9 seed Virginia Tech Thursday at 9:40 p.m.

Gritconsin

Wisconsin – The Definition Of Grit

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Wisconsin had its way with Northwestern in the Big Ten semifinal matchup today. The Badgers cruised to a 76 to 48 beat down. Northwestern struggled from the opening tip and never got any resemblance of offense going during the contest. Wisconsin out rebounded them 36-27, and shot 47% compared to the 35% of the Wildcats.

 

Leading the way for Wisconsin were its two post players Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes. Ethan Happ continues to be super-efficient and productive. He is always in the right spot at the right time. Happ has elite footwork in the post and is much stronger than he appears. He continually is around the ball and comes up with 50/50 balls at a rate that I have never seen. Happ had 16 points on 4 of 6 shooting, while also hitting 8 of 11 at the foul line where he normally struggles. He chipped in eight rebounds and kept countless possessions alive with his hustle. Happ may not look like the most intimidating or impressive specimen but he is a natural basketball player. His smarts and court awareness are already at a high level. Senior forward Nigel Hayes had one of his most effective games of the season. He ended up with 18 points, ten rebounds and two assists. Hayes was working the mid-post game to perfection. Northwestern had no answer for him. He is an extremely physical player and if he can be consistent with his outside shot he has a good chance to succeed in the NBA. Hayes provides versatility with his size (6’8 240) that is a match-up nightmare at the collegiate level. He is stronger than some centers and also has the ability to put the ball on the floor and create for himself or kick out to open teammates. While senior point guard Bronson Koenig struggled on the night the rest of the Badgers squad stepped up. Zak Showalter chipped in ten points and Vitto Brown tallied eight points and eight rebounds.

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If Wisconsin can handle business tomorrow against a hot Michigan team it could be in line for a four or five seed in the NCAA tournament. Wisconsin’s tough and gritty style of play is a tough matchup for any team, but a team that might stand a chance is a team with an up tempo style of play like Michigan. Tomorrow should be a solid game to decide who will win the 2017 Big Ten Tournament.

 

Walton Jr. Leads Michigan To Big Ten Title Game

Walton Jr. Leads Michigan To Big Ten Title Game

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Derrick Walton Jr. won the battle of the point guards against Nate Mason. Walton led Michigan with 29 points as the Wolverines defeated the Golden Gophers 84-77. Mason chipped in 23 points in the loss.

 

Michigan will continue its surprising run tomorrow against the winner of Wisconsin and Northwestern. Michigan got off to a huge start in the first half, but Minnesota eventually tied it 55 all midway in the second. That is when Derrick Walton Jr. took over. Walton used his elite quickness and burst to get into the lane and finish at will. He also made several pull up clutch three’s. This was all Michigan needed to pull away late in the game. Walton showed why he is considered one of the best point guards in the Big Ten. He set up his teammates on several occasions. He also has the ability to elevate and chip in on the glass with the big boys. Walton finished with 29 points, nine assists, five rebounds and two steals. Walton will be a huge factor if Michigan looks to make a run next week in the NCAA tournament.

 

Mo Wagner also provided stability in the post as well as on the perimeter. The 6’11 sophomore power forward made six of seven shots, including two from three. Wagner had 17 points and four rebounds, all of this in just 18 minutes of action due to foul trouble. The other factor for the Wolverines was 6’6 senior shooting guard Zak Irvin. Irvin is at his best when attacking the lane hard, using his athleticism and length to his advantage. He has an ability to hit the three but has been inconsistent this season. Irvin finished with 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

 

Michigan is a very dangerous team on offense. The question for them going into the tournament will be can they stop the other team from scoring. Today they did a decent job until the game opened up at the end and Mason got several free lay ups. They will be in line for an eight or a nine seed depending upon how they do in the title game. That will provide them with yet another tough matchup in the first round, and especially if they advance from there. But hey, at least they will avoid Dayton this time….

 

Northwestern And Wisconsin Meet In Big Ten Semi’s

Wisconsin And Northwestern Set To Meet In Big Ten Semi’s

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Wisconsin handled business against Indiana finishing them off in the second half 70-60. Northwestern defeated Maryland, in basically a home game for the Terps, 72-64. Both squads are playing well at the moment and it should provide quite a semifinal matchup on Saturday.

 

Wisconsin was clicking on all cylinders against Indiana. Five players scored over ten points and they were led by senior point guard Bronson Koenig, who scored 16. Koenig has a knack for hitting big timely shots. He has done it throughout his career and did it on several occasions late in the game. Koenig’s physicality on both sides of the ball provides a matchup problem for smaller and less physical guards. He has a solid shooting stroke when in rhythm and it showed going 4 of 7 from three. Koenig finished with 16 points, five assists and three steals. The other factor for Wisconsin was their rock on the inside. Sophomore power forward Ethan Happ was extremely efficient on the night only missing two shots on nine attempts. Happ is a tough presence in the post and uses his elite footwork to score making up for his lack of athleticism. He also has a nose for the ball on the glass, keeping possessions alive even when being outmanned. Happ finished with 14 points and twelve rebounds.

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Northwestern had a trio of contributors that Maryland could not slow down. Scottie Lindsey, a junior shooting guard, hit several tough shots in the lane and while under duress on the perimeter. Lindsey is a physical player that can finish with either hand around the rim. He finished with 17 points. Vic Law is also starting to turn the heads of NBA scouts. His skill set is versatile and he has the potential to be a very effective defender as well. Law, who is a senior, should receive interest in attending the Portsmouth Invitational after the season. Law finished with 17 points, five rebounds and two steals. The most important player for Northwestern is junior point guard Bryant McIntosh. McIntosh is having a solid tournament. He penetrates at will and has ability to mind open players for easy baskets. He is also finishing many tough floaters in the lane as well, which is immensely important for guards at the next level. McIntosh finished with 16 points, six rebounds and two steals.

 

The matchup between these teams tomorrow should provide a thriller. The difference may be the post advantage Wisconsin has with Happ and Nigel Hayes. Northwestern does not have much to offer to stop that, but they have been underestimated all season. McIntosh will have to play very well, but he has his work cut out for him with Bronson Koenig.

 

Prediction: Northwestern 73 Wisconsin 70

 

Who Is Mark Turgeon?

Who Is Mark Turgeon?

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The question that many Maryland fans are beginning to ask themselves is not Who is this Maryland team? or Who is Melo Trimble? They understand this is a team that starts three freshmen and is extremely perimeter oriented. The question that begs answers and is weighing on Terp fans minds is, Who is Mark Turgeon?

 

Turgeon has turned this program around in the last three years. He inherited lacking talent when Gary Williams left and had to begin the process of rebuilding. In his first few years however, he swung and missed on the players he brought in. Nick Faust, Shaquille Cleare, Seth Allen, Charles Mitchell, and Roddy Peters all ended up transferring and having success in some way elsewhere. Peters success was very limited because he has since been dismissed from South Florida and transferred again to Nicholls State. So after the first few seasons, Turgeon was in desperate need of a turn around. Since the Terps have entered Big Ten play in 2014-2015, they have finished top three in conference play and made it to the semifinals in back-to-back seasons. This may have been what saved Mark Turgeon’s job. In his first three years at Maryland, he was just 59-43 with zero NCAA tournament appearances and just a trip to the NIT semifinals under his belt.

 

The success since joining Big Ten play has reinvigorated the fans and even brought back in the casual fan that slowly departed after the lack of success after the national title year in 2002. The problem that has begun to arise is that fans are starting to believe Turgeon is limited as a coach and is just a good recruiter. Turgeon has done many positive things in recent seasons. He has brought in talented transfers and recruits, and he has made Maryland relevant once again. These are all great things, but what seems to be lacking is the development of individual players’ skills, as well as the lack of consistent play on offense specifically. The players that came in have slowly developed or not at all, including all of the transfers mentioned above, plus Michal Cekovsky, Damonte Dodd, Jared Nickens, and some would even argue Melo Trimble.

 

Let’s look at the coach that Turgeon is, not who he is not. Turgeon is a player’s coach. He gives his players a lot more freedom than other coaches do. When a coach does this it can help generate better camaraderie between teammates, but it can also backfire. In the first few years of his career at Maryland, it backfired. Some would even argue that it backfired last year, as the team seemed more focused on their payday than playing as a cohesive unit. Overall, since Maryland has entered the Big Ten, they have unarguably been successful as a team. Yes, everyone expected more last year with the immense talent on the team, but they also ran into a very good and balanced Kansas squad. This was the first year Maryland made the sweet sixteen since 2003, when Steve Blake led the squad. Turgeon has led Maryland to back-to-back NCAA tournaments and will do so again this year. Even toward the end of Gary’s admired reign, the team was very inconsistent in making the NCAA tournament. Nevertheless, Turgeon has provided some stability to that now, especially since he has brought in the right players in recent years.

 

Unfortunately for Turgeon, the future for this Maryland team appears to be vulnerable. Turgeon has had limited success in post-season play. In eighteen seasons as a head coach, Turgeon has made the NCAA tournament only seven times. In those seven seasons, he has led his teams to just two sweet sixteen’s- including one sweet sixteen game where he lead Wichita State by making a Cinderella run back in 2006. Turgeon’s teams seem to peak early in the season. This has also been shown while he has been at Maryland. His teams have won four straight early season tournaments, the Paradise Jam in 2013, the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in 2014, the Cancun Challenge in 2015, and the Barclays Center Classic this season. This all points back to the freedom he gives his players, especially on offense. Teams in early season play are still a work in progress; many teams struggle. Turgeon’s teams thrive in those situations. His players find ways to make plays and their freedom of play in the offense ends up working out for the better. You can get away with this in early season play. Once teams start improving and getting better is when other teams get exposed. This exposure has been happening to the Terps in recent seasons. They have become stagnant on offense later in the year and rely very heavily on perimeter-oriented play. Several examples of this are Terrell Stoglin, Seth Allen, Dez Wells and Melo Trimble. How many times since Turgeon has been coach do you see possessions in under ten seconds where the play ends with a pick and roll at the top of the three-point line where a guard forces a three or a drive to the basket? Maryland’s offense has been the same since Turgeon has been there; he just has better offensive weapons than when he started. One area where he has improved is drawing up plays after timeouts and in bound plays under the basket. In the past couple of seasons, Maryland’s execution has been leaps and bounds better than previous years.

 

All of this is not to deem Turgeon a failure. He has shown improvement over the years and also an ability to recruit at a level that his predecessor could not. He gets the most out of his players and gets them to buy in. Turgeon is still evolving as a coach, and he is only 52 years old and appears to have a lot left in the tank. For right now what you see is what you get in Coach Turgeon. You get a coach that has been extremely competitive since joining a new conference. You get a coach that loves being at Maryland. You get a coach that will bring in some of the best talent Maryland has had in the past 25 years. Yes, he is still a work in progress as far as X’s and O’s; but he will improve, as all good coaches do.

 

Since losing five of their last seven games, supporters have turned into haters at a rapid rate. Once the grumbling and complaining is silenced, Terp fans need to realize he just took a team that lost four pro’s last year and replaced them with three starting freshman and led them to the best start in Maryland’s storied history at 20-2.

 

So who is Mark Turgeon? That is up to him to decide.

Big Ten Day 2 Nightcap

Big Ten Nightcap

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Tenth seeded Indiana rolled over seventh seeded Iowa 95-73, thanks to a huge 52 point second half. Early on the game was competitive as Indiana only held on to a three point halftime lead 43-40. Indiana shot a scorching 68% from the field in the second half, including making six of eight from three. On the other hand it was not Iowa’s night. While they shot 45%, they could not overcome being outscored in the paint 46-32.

 

For Iowa two players were the only reason they kept the game respectable. Jordan Bohannon (6’0 182) and Cordell Pemsl (6’8 249) provided the only consistent and impactful play for the Hawkeyes on the night. Bohannon was hot from downtown and did a great job of setting his teammates up for baskets. The freshman point guard plays a fast but level headed pace and has a chance to be a solid leader for years to come. Bohannon finished with 24 points, ten assists and went six for eleven from three. Pemsl, a freshman power forward, provided a scoring punch from down low and some toughness that the rest of the Hawkeyes seemed to lack. The strong lefty was also a factor on the boards chipping in a game high eleven. Pemsl finished with 14 points and eleven rebounds. NBA draft prospect Peter Jok was a disappointment, as he never asserted himself in the game. Jok finished with nine points, on four of eleven from the field, with three rebounds and four turnovers.

 

James Blackmon Jr. (6’4 200) exploded with 18 second half points that led to Indiana’s route of Iowa. Blackmon was super efficient shooting on the night only missing two shots. Blackmon never forced the issue and showed that he has the ability to carry Indiana when healthy. The junior guard finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists. NBA draft prospect Thomas Bryant (6’10 255) showed some versatility on defense, which should impress some scouts. Bryant played physical down low and displayed his high motor on the offensive end by running the floor regularly on breaks. Bryant has a chance to be a mid first round pick and has all the tools the NBA desires. He finished with eleven points, three assists and five blocks.

 

Iowa will now wait out there fait on Sunday during the selection show.

Indiana will play 2nd seeded Wisconsin tomorrow night.

 

 

Sixth seeded Northwestern had its way with fourteen seeded Rutgers from the get go and finished the route 83-61.

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Northwestern spread the wealth on offense having four players score over 13 points. The Wildcats were led by Bryant McIntosh (6’3 185) and Vic Law (6’7 205). McIntosh captained the offense and kept the Wildcats in flow throughout the game. McIntosh Had 13 points and three assists, but his leadership of the offense was the most impressive impact he had on the game. Vic Law looked extremely fluid on offense and showed some versatility as well. Law is another NBA prospect in the making that is showcasing at the Big Ten tournament. He may not be on the radar this year but his future looks bright. Law had 16 points, on five of six shooting, with five rebounds and four assists.

 

For Rutgers the game wasn’t as pretty. Guards Nigel Johnson (6’1 186) and Corey Sanders (6’2 181) were the only source of offense for the Scarlet Knights. Without them on the floor Rutgers was not a threat to score. You could even argue if they didn’t have the ball in their hands there was no threat either. Sanders finished with 14 points and three assists. Johnson tallied 21 points and five made three-pointers.

 

Rutgers season will now come to an end, as they will not garner any post season birth with a 15-17 record.

Northwestern will take on 3rd seeded Maryland tomorrow night.