Milwaukee, WI - Playing for the last time on their home court at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Marquette seniors Jujuan Johnson, Luke Fischer (6'11''-C-94) and Katin Reinhardt sent a near capacity crowd of 17,630 home happy by combining to score 45 points to lead Marquette to a 91-83 victory over Creighton on Saturday afternoon. Each senior scored in double figures as Marquette answered Creighton's first basket of the game with an 11-0 run of its own to take a lead it would never relinquish.
Johnson was the catalyst early as knocked down two shots from behind the three-point line and converted on a lay-up to account for eight of Marquette's first 11 points. 'I thought JJ had a very aggressive mindset to start the game, which was great,' said Marquette Coach Steve Wojciechowski. 'JJ is not a hard guy to read and I could sense in his face that he was really ready to play today.'
Johnson's three-point shooting, like his play this season, has been inconsistent. He entered the game connecting on 34 percent of his triples, well below the Marquette team average of 43 percent, tops in all of NCAA basketball. But he was dialed in early connecting on his first two three-pointers, first from the wing and then from straight on from NBA distance. 'When JJ has his feet set, he's a good shooter and I thought he did that, especially in the first half,' said Wojciechowski.
'I love it the way JJ got going early,' said Fischer. 'JJ's a dynamic player. Once he gets his shot going, guys will chase out hard to him and that opens up the drive for him.'
Starting for the first time in five games, Fischer threw down two dunks, used both hands to make three jump hooks and bullied his defender into a lay-up as he converted on 6-of-8 shots in scoring 13 points. Wojciechowski, who has labelled Fischer 'one of the great all-time kids' on more than one occasion over the years, called Fischer's play 'solid.'
Coming off a 17-point performance in Marquette's last game, a 95-84 win at Xavier, Reinhardt chipped in with 12 points scoring mostly with high-arching jump shots from distance and midrange. A two-time transfer with stops at UNLV and Southern California on his resume, Reinhardt turned down the opportunity to start on Senior Day for fear of upsetting team chemistry. His double-digit scoring effort against Creighton was his fourth game in a row scoring more than ten points.
The Marquette seniors got help from two freshmen in Markus Howard and Sam Hauser. Howard played his most complete game in a Marquette uniform. He flirted with a triple-double by scoring 18 points and putting up career-highs of nine assists and seven rebounds. Playing his first game after turning 18 years of age the day before, Howard entered the game leading the Big East and the NCAA with a blistering 55.6 shooting percentage from behind the three-point arc. His 74 treys also put him possession of the Marquette freshman record for made three-point shots previously held by former Marquette star and NBA veteran Travis Diener, now an assistant coach with the team.
Creighton pressured Howard into a 2-for-5 shooting night from distance. But when the Arizona native was run off his long distance shot, he attacked the rim and scored five field goals on a collection of floaters and lay-ups. He brought Marquette fans to their feet half way through the second half when he sliced through the Blue Jays' defense, attacked the rim from the left side and finished on the right side using the rim as protection from a shot blocker. 'Marcus played with great grit today,' said Wojciechowski. 'You have to remember, Marcus has played off the ball most of his life. He's making improvements with his decision-making.' In his last two games, Howard has handed out 12 assists while committing only three turnovers.
Hauser is a stretch four who came into the game knocking down over 44 percent of his shots from distance, good for fifth in the Big East. He connected on 3-of-5 attempts on Saturday and is now 11-for-20 in his last four games. At 6-6, Hauser has the height and length to shoot over shorter players when the defense rotates shorter wings to contest his shots. He gets a number of shooting opportunities from behind the arc separating quickly out of a screen. Using his length and understanding of positioning to rebound, he pulled down seven rebounds against Creighton, all on the defensive backboards and many of them in traffic. 'Sam's one of the top freshmen in the league,' said the Marquette coach. 'I don't know if he'll get recognized as such after the season, but I thank my lucky stars I get to coach him. The kid is a winner.'
Creighton has done a lot of winning itself this season. Appearing in the national polls for nearly all of the first four months of the season and ascending to as high as seventh in two polls one week but unranked entering the game, the Blue Jays are still learning to play without senior point guard Maurice Watson, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in a game against Xavier on January 16. Not that Creighton lacks for talented guards because with redshirt junior Marcus Foster and sophomore Khyri Thomas, the Blue Jays still start two skilled offensive players both scoring at a double-digit clip. Foster, a Kansas State transfer, came into the game with a Big East-leading 18.8 per game scoring average.
But Foster struggled against Marquette making only 5-of-17 shots and none of the six shots he took from behind the arc. Many of his shots hit short off the rim, a possible consequence of playing over 36 minutes per game on average in Creighton's last five games.
Thomas did his best to pick up the slack for his backcourt mate and led the Blue Jays with 23 points. A skilled two-way player suited better to the shooting guard role but taking over some of the ball-handling duties with Watson sidelined, Thomas scores from all three levels and is a disruptive defender. He provided one of Creighton's first half highlights by stripping the ball from Howard in the Marquette front court and racing three-quarters down court to finish strong above the rim.
It does not take long looking over any NBA mock draft list before the name of Creighton redshirt freshman big Justin Patton pops up. A bouncy, lean and projectable seven footer who Creighton recruited out of a local Omaha high school, Patton was the main reason seven NBA scouts found their way to Milwaukee to watch the game.
Playing only 19 minutes at Creighton Coach Doug McDermott's discretion, Patton showed why he was on NBA scouts' radar. Blessed with an abundance of fast-twitch muscles, Patton does not run the court as much as he sprints it. He beat the Marquette defense down court in the first half only to muff a teammate's pass in the paint. But that was one of the few miscues for Patton. Other than the aforementioned mishandle, Patton has sure hands and used them to make catches diving to the rim out of ball screen actions and finishing above the rim. Leading the Big East by a wide margin with a .692 shooting percentage entering the game, Patton made 5-of-7 shots to bump his percentage higher.
Patton is by far a finished product as he once struggled to finish with his left hand and another time used his right hand in attempting to finish when the better option was shooting with his left hand. Getting up shots in pregame, Patton's shot rotation was more planetary than pure. But addition to changing ends of the court quickly and diving hard to the rim out of screens, Patton does things like block shots (1.5 per game), rebound (6.3 per game) and play with a high level of athleticism that are difficult to teach.
Having lost his two games to Marquette this season and in the process surrendering an average of over 96 points per game, McDermott was complimentary of the Marquette offense. 'They swing the ball and catch it in rhythm,' said McDermott. 'When Johnson makes four of seven three-pointers it changes what you can do. You have to pick and choose who you can help off of. It's hard to stop teams that shoot threes in transition. But it was senior day and he (Johnson) stepped up. He was the difference in the game.'
McDermott knows something about playing with pace and space having coached a Creighton team in 2013-14 headlined by his son, Doug, that set a school record with 356 made triples and posted a 27-8 record. 'I thought our team that year was one of the better teams spacing the ball and this (Marquette) team is right up there with us,' he said. McDermott said he gave thought to changing his team's offensive strategy in an attempt to slow down the Golden Eagles. 'I came into the game thinking we might walk it up to control tempo, but that's not who we are and I feel like we had to try to play with more pace.'
McDermott hinted that he was disappointed with the effort of some of the Blue Jays. 'We had some guys sell out to make plays for our team,' he said. 'Frankly, we needed more of that.'
As the final home game of the season, Wojciechowski took the opportunity after the game to address the Marquette student section to thank students for their support. As he was finishing, Fischer asked his coach for the microphone, told him he was going to propose to his girlfriend and asked her onto the court. 'She said 'yes' or it could have been a mess,' joked the Marquette coach.
Both teams head to New York for the Big East tournament for their first games on March 9. Marquette, the number four seed, takes on Seton Hall and Creighton, seeded number six, plays Providence.
Weng'an, China - Brittany Crain scored 16 points to lead the NetScouts Basketball USA All-Stars to a 64-53 win over Canada in front of 3,841 fans in Weng'an in the opening game of a nine-game China tour. Alisia Jenkins added 11 points and eight rebounds while point guard Simone DeCoud contributed seven assists and five steals against only one turnover. Kyanna Pingue-Giles led Canada with 19 points and 11 rebounds [read more]
Weng'an, China - Brittany Crain scored 16 points to lead the NetScouts Basketball USA All-Stars to a 64-53 win over Canada in front of 3,841 fans in Weng'an in the opening game of a nine-game China tour. Alisia Jenkins added 11 points and eight rebounds while point guard Simone DeCoud contributed seven assists and five steals against only one turnover. Kyanna Pingue-Giles led Canada with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
The USA All-Stars took an early 19-9 lead before the Canadians battled back to take a 26-25 lead just before halftime. Crain then hit a three-pointer to give the Americans a 28-26 lead into halftime. The Americans then outscored Canada 21-12 in the third quarter to help put the game out of reach. The USA extended the lead to 16 midway in the fourth quarter and then coasted to the win.
It was the first game the Americans played together and it showed. The USA All-Stars took 21 more shots than Canada but shot only 26-for-82 (31.7%) from the field. They did make nine three-pointers (9-of-27) with Crain drilling three and Kari Korver and Leslie Lopez-Wood two each. The Canadians had a +8 edge on the boards but that was mainly the result of the USA missing 15 more shots than Canada. The USA came up with 19 steals and forced Canada into 22 turnovers.
Rachel Mitchell was impressive defensively for the USA coming up with four early blocks and Kiara Kudron (7 rebounds) came up big in the second half with some strong rebounding. Crain also grabbed seven boards and was very active in her time on the court.
NetScouts Basketball USA All-Stars Head Coach Perry Huang "I thought this was a good effort for the first time we've played together. We didn't hit our shots but I thought we played good defense most of the time in the second half and started to rebound better. We'll look for improvement in tonight's game."
China was impressive in the opener as they destroyed Lithuania 89-46. Six Chinese players scored in double-figures and they out-rebounded Lithuania by 15. China faces Canada in the first game tonight while the USA faces Lithuania in the nightcap.
ORU hires Baylor assistant Paul Mills as the next Golden Eagle basketball coach - 2 days ago
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Oral Roberts University announced the hiring of Baylor assistant Paul Mills as the next Golden Eagle head basketball coach in a press release Thursday afternoon. After 18 seasons, 328 victories, five Summit League titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances, Scott Sutton was fired by ORU President Billy Wilson on April 10. From a list of about 50 coaches who expressed interest in the position, athletic director Mike Carter is believed to have interviewed five finalists: Mills, current Go... [read more]
Oral Roberts University announced the hiring of Baylor assistant Paul Mills as the next Golden Eagle head basketball coach in a press release Thursday afternoon. After 18 seasons, 328 victories, five Summit League titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances, Scott Sutton was fired by ORU President Billy Wilson on April 10. From a list of about 50 coaches who expressed interest in the position, athletic director Mike Carter is believed to have interviewed five finalists: Mills, current Golden Eagle interim coach Rodney Perry, Iowa State assistant Daniyal Robinson, Baylor assistant Jerome Tang and North Dakota State assistant Kyan Brown. Mills has been a member of Scott Drew's Baylor staff since 2003. Last month, the Drew-coached Baylor program made its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance. A Houston native, Mills played high school basketball at Houston MacArthur and signed to play at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, but his college career was shortened by a back injury sustained during his freshman season. Mills then transferred to Texas A&M, from which he graduated in 1996 with a degree in finance. Before working at Baylor, Mills was a head coach at two Houston-area private high schools: North Belt Christian and Fort Bend Baptist Academy. According to the school's 2014 990 form, Sutton was being paid almost $435,000 per year. ORU is a private school and not obligated to release the details of its employee contracts, but it is believed that the university entered the search process with a preference of not paying a new coach more than $250,000 a year. A source said ORU may not go beyond three years on a contract. The NCAA Division I standard for head-coaching contracts is a five-year deal. Courtesy of: tulsaworld.com
Farokhmanesh headed to Drake as assistant coach - 2 days ago
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Nebraska basketball staffer Ali Farokhmanesh is headed back to the Missouri Valley Conference. Thursday reports of Nebraska's director of player relations and development heading to Drake became reality Friday, as the Huskers made Farokhmanesh's hiring as an assistant coach official with a news release. Farokhmanesh will be the third assistant on Niko Medved 's new staff at Drake, joining Dave Thorson and JR Blount. It will be the former Northern Iowa star's first on-the-court coaching jo... [read more]
Nebraska basketball staffer Ali Farokhmanesh is headed back to the Missouri Valley Conference. Thursday reports of Nebraska's director of player relations and development heading to Drake became reality Friday, as the Huskers made Farokhmanesh's hiring as an assistant coach official with a news release. Farokhmanesh will be the third assistant on Niko Medved 's new staff at Drake, joining Dave Thorson and JR Blount. It will be the former Northern Iowa star's first on-the-court coaching job. Medved, a former assistant to Tim Miles at Colorado State, was hired by Drake May 26 after a four-year stint at Furman. "It is with mixed emotions that I will be leaving the University of Nebraska to accept an assistant coaching position at Drake University,' Farokhmanesh said in a news release. "I want to thank Coach Miles for the incredible opportunity to be a part of Husker basketball. It has been an honor to work with Shawn Eichorst and Marc Boehm, who have allowed me to be a part of a very special university and athletic department. I will always be grateful for the experience of working with Coach Miles and his staff. Under their leadership and trust, I have grown as a person and as a coach. I have had a remarkable three years at Nebraska with some very special student-athletes, and I will cherish those relationships. This program will go on to do great things." Farokhmanesh recently completed his third season on the Husker staff, first joining the Huskers in 2014 as a graduate manager before being promoted to his latest role prior to the 2016-17 season. According to his bio, Farokhmanesh played a major role in creating and implementing a mentoring program, as well as coordinating community outreach with Nebraska's Life Skills staff. He also assisted with recruiting, including on-campus hosting duties. Farokhmanesh, of course, is a legend in The Valley and the state of Iowa after helping lead Northern Iowa to a 30-5 record and a spot in the Sweet 16 in 2010. His three-pointer against Kansas with 34 seconds to go that sealed the Panthers' 69-67 upset landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated and cemented his place as a March Madness legend. Courtesy of: journalstar.com
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