Starting Five: Michigan State lands four man; shine and shame; Sean Miller
Michigan State has landed three-star power forward Julius Marble, what's he bring to the table? Which teams brought shine or shame to their programs and what do we make of Sean Miller's comments? That and more in this week's Starting Five.
1. WHAT IS MICHIGAN STATE GETTING IN JULIUS MARBLE?
On Sunday, Michigan State added a third member to their 2019 recruiting class when Texas power forward Julius Marble committed after an official visit.
A lean power forward with a nice frame to work with, Marble has always been a good athlete, shown flashes of potential and had the chance to get recruited at a pretty high level. However, it wasn't until his senior season that he really turned it on and rounded out his game. He's a good rebounder, runs the floor very well, finishes strong around the rim and what is most intriguing is that he's becoming a threat as a jump shooter who can play some pick and pop.
I don't think Michigan State fans are expecting an instant impact guy in Marble, but he isn't some late spring Hail Mary target who is coming in just to fill a scholarship. He should be a good role player early on in his career and is the exact type of prospect who can be developed into a potential starter as an upperclassmen. Thumbs up to Tom Izzo and his staff for going into Texas and giving Marble an opportunity to play on college hoop's big boy stage.
2. WEEKEND SHINE
My football counterpart Mike Farrell likes to hand out shine and shame after college football weekends. I'm not up to doing it on a weekly basis, but I don't mind stealing an idea from Mike every once in a while. With that in mind, here's some that stood out to me over the weekend.
Auburn: There was a time when the Tigers looked like a borderline NCAA Tournament team, now they are getting hot. Their win over Tennessee showcased their ability to spread the floor and play fast. Chuma Okeke is emerging as a stud in the SEC.
Georgetown: After getting crushed by DePaul in the middle of the week, Pat Ewing and the Hoyas really needed to come up big. Forty-eight points out of their freshman backcourt of James Akinjo and Mac McClung got them a win, cost Marquette a Big East crown and kept NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Kansas State: With a home win against Oklahoma, the Wildcats made sure that they captured a piece of Bruce Weber's second Big 12 title. Hopefully for the Cats, Dean Wade isn't out for any longer than the Big 12 tourney.
North Carolina: The Heels unleashed a barrage of second-half threes to complete a season sweep of Duke. The win landed Roy Williams a share of his ninth ACC crown since arriving in Chapel Hill for the 2003-04 season.
Seton Hall: The Pirates almost spoiled Villanova's bid (more on that below) for another Big East title with a Saturday win. Couple that with a mid-week win over Marquette and the Pirates are looking great for the NCAA Tournament.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders went on the road, handled business and will now share a Big 12 crown with Kansas State. Sophomore wing Jarrett Culver looked like an All-American and deserving of his Big 12 Player of the Year honors scoring 31.
Virginia: This Tony Bennett guy is pretty good, huh? So is that entire Cavaliers team and I think this year is the year that Bennett and the Cavs break through to the Final Four. They share an ACC regular season crown (but get No. 1 ACC Tourney seed) with UNC. it's Bennett's fourth in Charlottesville.
3. WEEKEND SHAME
So, I took a look at the good. I guess that means I have to take a look at the bad and the ugly.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide had a very important week and after losing to Auburn at home they desperately needed a win at Arkansas. Bama fell short, has now lost six of eight and are in real danger of missing the NCAA Tournament.
Marquette: A loss at home to Georgetown was their fourth in a row. It completed a come-from-ahead loss of a Big East conference title and allowed Villanova to back into a title after the WIldcats lost to Seton Hall (their fourth loss in six games)
Ohio State: Sitting quite precariously on the bubble, the Buckeyes really needed a win against Wisconsin. They waited until they were down 20 to play like it mattered and came up just short of a miraculous comeback. They likely need to do work in the Big Ten Tournament to feel safe.
St. John's: It's inconceivable to me that the Red Storm are in this position given how well their season started. But after losing to Xavier on Saturday, their NCAA hopes are in some serious jeopardy. When these guys are good, they can be awesome. But when they are bad, they are really bad. A little more in between those extremes would be good.
Texas: The metrics Bracketologist's use still like the Longhorns to make the NCAA Tournament. I don't know, a loss at home to TCU dropped them to below .500 in the Big 12 and just 16-15 overall. I know they have some really good wins, but I'd sure be nervous if I was them.
Vanderbilt: 0-18. Not sure what else to say. The heat to bounce back next season has been turned way up.
Washington: People suggesting the Huskies could be in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament if they don't win the Pac 12 Tournament are taking it too far. But, after Saturday's loss to Oregon, the Huskies are legitimately in danger of playing in road uniforms during the Tournament.
4. WHAT'S UP WITH SEAN MILLER?
I'm pretty sure that everybody who follows college basketball closely saw Sean Miller's comments to the crowd at the McKale Center after Arizona's loss to Arizona State.
If you didn't, here's what Miller said.
“There’s no place that’s more magic than the McKale Center. There are no fans in the world that are more loyal. It has been an amazing honor to coach in the McKale Center for the last 10 years. Thank you for everything."
Given the Wildcats' tough year, Arizona's involvement in the college basketball FBI case and other issues, the message could be taken as cryptic on its own. But Miller made it even more of a conversation when he elected to "no comment" given the chance to explain what he meant.
Look, I get why the rumor will and conspiracy theories are running on high right now. But, whatever end game Miller was getting out, I don't see any way on Earth that he didn't make the comments he did without a master plan behind it. Is he rallying the fanbase around him, trolling the media, seriously considering quitting? I don't know, but I don't think it was on off the cuff or emotionally driven comment.
5. BUFFALO STEALS ONE
Credit Nate Oats and Buffalo for literally going about as far across the country as he can to land a recruit. Seattle (Wash.) O'Dea combo guard Noah Williams is a very nice pickup for the Bulls. Williams has size, he's an athlete, he can play multiple positions and what I've always liked when scouting him is that he plays with a chip on his shoulder. I think odds are pretty good that he becomes a very good player.
I can't help but wonder, though, where West Coast programs were on him. Williams recruitment was strangely quiet and I'm having a hard time reconciling the way I've seen him play with him getting pretty minimal attention out West. Maybe I only caught him when he played well, but I don't think that's the case. So, I'll be interested to see how good he is at Buffalo. I'm inclined to believe a lot of programs are going to regret not going after him a little harder.