Tuesday, February 8, 2011

News On The Horizon 2/8/2011

Stardate 92-20110207: Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide--The Mid-Majority

Horizon League: Conference races mean different things in different places. Here, the one-seed also brings hosting duties for the final two rounds of the league tourney. With seven of the ten teams within 3.5 games of current top team Cleveland State, don't book any travel quite yet. Butler, which did pretty well in March last year, completed a season sweep of the Vikings on Saturday with a 73-61 win; only in a Bizarrizon would that qualify as an upending, but that's 2011 for you. Valparaiso, a team that lost at CSU on Thursday, wobbled as well on Youngstown State on Saturday -- the two-win Penguins pushed the Crusaders to overtime before falling 86-78. And look out for Milwaukee; the 8-5 Panthers now officially qualify as "hottest team in the league" after four straight wins. When they make the short trip down to Chicago this weekend for a Thursday/Saturday swing, they'll be well-rested as well as lightly-traveled: just one game in the previous ten days.
Game! Of! The! Night!

Illinois-Chicago at Butler (Horizon League)
Hinkle Fieldhouse - Indianapolis, IN
7:00 EST

Chicago and Indianapolis -- Capital and branch office -- played in a Super Bowl once, four years ago. In fact, that was my final Last Man contest not played on this site. Last Man XIX was almost too easy: it took place in southern California, where nobody cares about American-Style Football. Still, though, the game ended on Monday morning with an errant glance at a USA Today cover in a truck stop. This game is more dangerous than it looks, and just one look can end it. There is no offseason longer than the one in Last Man. It lasts 51 weeks, and that's a long time to brood.

Anyway. Tonight, it's rare Monday Night Horizon League Basketball, in a stagger weekend where some teams are playing three games. This late in the regular season, it's rare to find two teams that haven't played each other yet. UIC and Butler haven't. The Flames (6-18, 1-11 HL) have been learning the hard way that size doesn't necessarily matter: their rotation of bigs have combined for the ex-MCC's highest percentage of available rebounds obtained (54 percent in conference play), but when UIC gets the ball, they rarely know what to do with it. A turnover rate of 23.6 percent ranks league-last, and it's a team that's made only 25 percent of three-pointers. The offense is anemic already, the team certainly doesn't need to be giving up a Horizon-worst 1.08 points per possession. Does senior guard Robert "Robo" Kreps (15.5 ppg) deserve to go out this way? Does his mechanical heart afford him human feelings? Tune in and find out!

Butler... oh, Butler. While observers thrill at the Bulldogs' dedication to defense, it's been susceptible to nearly the same kinds of scoring runs UIC has yielded. Pick your metric: Brad Stevens' team (15-9, 7-5 HL) affords others 70 points per game at a 66-possession pace, allows 51 percent of two-pointers to fall, gives up 1.04 points per trip. It's a leaky ship. It doesn't help matters that last season's defensive quarterback, Ronald Nored, has been having such a lackluster year that he was stuck on the bench for most of the 12-point win at first-place Cleveland State Saturday. Butler is not in first place. They're still 2.5 games out.

But why is this Disappointment Bowl the G!O!T!N!? Mostly to announce that the return match on February 19 (when Butler might normally be playing in the BracketBusters) will be the second annual, rescheduled #ALLCAPSGAME. HORIZON LEAGUE BASKETBALL IS THAT IMPORTANT.

Tuesday's Shootaround--Ballin' is a Habit

Butler 72, Illinois-Chicago 65: Shelvin Mack scored 17 points for the Bulldogs, who remain two games behind Valpo in the loss column in the Horizon League standings. But none of that is what folks will be talking about after last night's win. If you haven't yet seen the pictures of Matt Howard from last night, well, I'd recommend you stop reading RIGHT NOW if you are at all squeamish.

Butler's 6'8" senior forward caught an inadvertent elbow from Paul Carter as he tried to set a back screen on the last play of the first half, and it opened up a nasty cut on Howard's head. Again, if you don't do well at the sight of blood, you might want to keep it moving:

That's about as bad of a cut as I have ever seen in a college basketball game. The elbow that Gerald Henderson planted across the bridge of Tyler Hansbrough's nose doesn't even compare.

"He's obviously got a big knot up there and he's got stitches and everything else," Butler head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. "[The training staff] hasn't said anything but that they are going to keep monitoring it throughout the week. It's not determined that he's out on Thursday or anything like that."

More importantly, Butler's win kept them within a game of second place in the Horizon. The top two teams in the Horizon League standings get a double-bye into the semifinals of the conference tournament.

Detroit 81, Cleveland State 78: The Viking's chance of getting an at-large bid may have gone out the window with their second straight loss. Detroit, on the other hand, looks like a team to be wary of in the Horizon League tournament as they have won three in a row to get back into the mix for the second double-bye.

Indiana College Basketball Weekly Preview: Is Valparaiso A Tournament Team?--SB Nation Indiana

ATB--Rush The Court

And Then There Was This. Matt Howard looked like something out of that new TNT show, The Walking Dead, tonight as he took a nasty elbow to his forehead in a scrum under the basket heading into the half tonight of a game Butler eventually won, 72-65, over Illinois-Chicago. Since we’re a family-friendly site around here, we suggest you take the jump if you want to see this thing, as it’ll scare the bejeezus out of ya, for certain. Howard did not return to the game this evening, and he’ll be treated for concussion symptoms as a result of this, but hey, at least Butler is only two games back in the Horizon League standings now, right? (h/t The Dagger)

Butler's Matt Howard suffers this season's bloodiest injury--The Dagger
Monday Bloody Monday--The Big Lead
At The Half: Butler Leading Illinois-Chicago 34-33, Matt Howard Bleeding--SB Nation Indiana
Final: Bulter Defeats Illinois-Chicago 72-65, Matt Howard Injured--SB Nation Indiana
Matt Howard is the bloodiest basketball player ever--Searching for Billy Edelin
Utah Jazz: Andrei Kirilenko to play, start tonight--Deseret News

Gordon Hayward filled in for Kirilenko in the starting lineup as Utah lost two of three games, including Saturday night's blowout loss to Oklahoma City.

Utah Jazz notebook: Pick-and-roll or not, defense just needs stops--Deseret News

Especially, noted rookie Gordon Hayward, when the guy popping off the screen hits jumper after jumper — as was the case Saturday against the Thunder..

"It's something we obviously need to work on. We're trying to do things," Hayward said. "We've tried a lot of different ways of stopping the pick and roll, but I think communicating might help us out a little bit more. It's a hard play to stop."

Notebook: Butler make Ill.-Chicago pay for its turnovers--The Indy Star
Butler overcomes loss of star Howard, 2 others to win--The Indy Star
Bulldogs keep getting banged up--Indy Star Butler Insider
Game Preview: Butler vs. UIC--Victory Firelight
Fan Speak: Player A vs. Player B--Victory Firelight
Howard bloodied, but Bulldogs victorious--Victory Firelight
Bulldogs Hold Off UIC, 72-65--ButlerSports.com

Morning Five: 02.08.11 Edition--Rush The Court

5. The ten final candidates for the Bob Cousy Award given to the nation’s top point guard were announced on Monday, and there were a couple of surprising omissions. The complete list is below, but as Mike Miller at Beyond the Arc points out, there’s really no legitimate excuse for leaving out Xavier’s Tu Holloway and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor. Both players have been outstanding for their respective teams, and outside of the NPOY candidates Fredette, Smith and Walker, arguably better than any of the other names on this list.

* Norris Cole, Cleveland State
* Corey Fisher, Villanova
* Jimmer Fredette, BYU
* D.J. Gay, San Diego State
* Brandon Knight, Kentucky
* Demetri McCamey, Illinois
* Mickey McConnell, St. Mary’s
* Nolan Smith, Duke
* Isaiah Thomas, Washington
* Kemba Walker, UConn

Where are Tu Holloway and Jordan Taylor?--Ballin' is a Habit
Defensive letdown proves costly for Vikings: Cleveland State Insider--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Cleveland State Vikings must stay the course after rough few days, says Elton Alexander (SBTV)--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Detroit's dunks too much for Cleveland State, 81-78--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Horizon League Play is Exciting, Not Decisive--The Cauldron
Detroit 81, Cleveland State 78: Vikings Drops Out Of First-Place With Loss to Titans--Let's Go Vikes!
Cole's 27 Points Not Enough As Detroit Edges CSU, 81-78--csuvikings.com

Vikings Host Valparaiso on Thursday Night--csuvikings.com

Checking in on the class of 2010--College Hoops Journal

t22. Ray McCallum — Detroit
33.6 Min., 23.3 Usage, 110.9 ORate, 47.9 eFG, 4.5/10.2 O/DReb, 28.5 ARate, 17.9 TORate, 2.8 Stl%

Our list’s first member of the mid-majority has shown the pros and cons of taking the small-conference path as a big-time recruit. The good news is McCallum pretty much runs the Detroit offense, using more possessions than any other Titan and getting to the hoop enough to boast the Horizon League’s second-best free-throw rate. The bad news is Detroit is 13-12 (7-6 Horizon), in sixth place in its conference and a long way from a postseason appearance of any kind, let alone the prolonged TV exposure given to high-major teams and their freshmen.

Detroit Mercy topples Horizon leader Cleveland State--The Detroit Free Press
UDM surprises Cleveland State for much-needed victory--The Detroit News
First-place Cleveland State Invades Calihan Monday--detroittitans.com
Detroit Ousts Cleveland State, 81-78 for Third Straight Win--detroittitans.com
UDM Names 210 to Athletic Director's Honor Roll--detroittitans.com

Learning from Youngstown for UIC-Butler--ChicagoNow.com
UIC's loss to Butler shows lack of balance--ChicagoNow.com
Butler beats UIC for 9th straight time--The Chicago Tribune
Butler beats UIC despite losing Matt Howard, others to injury--The Chicago Tribune
Butler extends UIC’s woes--The Chicago Sun-Times
Kreps Scores 1,500th Career Point in 72-65 Loss at Butler--uicflames.com

Loyola hires new Athletic Director, change coming?--ChicagoNow.com
Loyola to name Calhoun as new AD --The Chicago Sun-Times
Skube putting up numbers at Loyola--The Post-Tribune
Loyola announces new athletic director--Loyola Phoenix
Phoenix Sports first look at Norville Athletic Center--Loyola Phoenix

Green Bay to Hold Coaches vs. Cancer Breakfast on Feb. 15--uwgbathletics.com

UWM Celebrates--PantherU
Horizon League Power Rankings (February 1-7)--PantherU
Grace Calhoun lands at Loyola--PantherU
Panthers Commit Second Act of Revenge, Drop Phoenix 88-75--Milwaukee Panther Tracks
29-Point, 15-Rebound Outing Earns Hill League Player Of The Week Honors--uwmpanthers.com
Panthers Put Winning Streak On The Line At Loyola--uwmpanthers.com

Tucker Named Horizon League Player of the Week--uwmpanthers.com

Valparaiso back in first place -- alone--Off The Mark
First-Place Crusaders Return Home Thursday--valpoathletics.com

Crusader Women Return to the Road Thursday in Cleveland--valpoathletics.com
Saturday’s Valpo-YSU Women’s Hoops Game Time Moved Back--valpoathletics.com

WSU is set for more 
TV time--Dayton Daily News
WSU heading into matchup with a banged up butler--Dayton Daily News
Wright State battles through 74-70 home victory against Youngstown State--Wright State University Sports
Billy Donlon’s birthday present: Road matchup with Butler--Wright State University Sports
Men Hold Off Youngstown State 74-70--RaiderRoundball.com
Winning at Hinkle would be sweet homecoming for Duggins--The Guardian
Men Hold Off Youngstown State 74-70--wsuraiders.com
Raiders Hit Road for Final Trip; Visit Butler Thursday on ESPNU--wsuraiders.com

Lady Raiders topple Butler, 70-68--The Guardian

Penguins lose a close one to Wright State--Youngstown Vindicator
Wright State holds off Youngstown State 74-70--Mahoning Valley Tribune Chronicle
Sulskis Ties Career Scoring High in 74-70 Loss at Wright State--ysusports.com

Saturday's Women's Basketball Game to Start at 4:35--ysusports.com

Milwaukee's Tucker earns women's basketball player of the week--Horizon League Network

Milwaukee's Hill Collects Horizon League Men's Basketball Player of the Week Accolade--Horizon League Network

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