The Dagger

  • Frank Martin, one of the most intense coaches in college basketball, leads South Carolina into Kentucky Saturday with sole possession of first place in the SEC on the line. (Getty)
    Frank Martin, one of the most intense coaches in college basketball, leads No. 24 South Carolina into Kentucky Saturday with sole possession of first place in the SEC on the line. (Getty)

    Michael Carrera still laughs when he watches the video. Still laughs every time he sees Frank Martin’s impending rage. Still laughs every time he sees Martin’s rigid posture and petrifying stare. Still laughs when he recalls that afternoon more than four years ago, the afternoon of his first college game.

    Carrera says he watches the YouTube clip almost every day. He watches Martin stalk out onto the court, clench his fists, and unleash a string of ferocious words. He watches as Martin composes himself, then springs back into life; as the stone-cold rage becomes unchained; as Martin’s eyebrows angle towards the bridge of his nose, then flatten as his eyes scrunch shut, his mouth flies open, and the screaming resumes.

    With the shot clock turned off and Milwaukee and South Carolina tied at 66 on the

    Read More »from How Frank Martin and his sideline fury turned South Carolina into a winner
  • A brawl between Division II schools LeMoyne-Owen and Lane College got out of hand during a game last Saturday night. Whereas most fights in basketball end as scuffles, this escalated into a fight where a fan hit a player over the head with a folding chair.

    According to, the fight broke out in the first quarter. Tensions were high the entire game, but after was a player tripped, other players began swarming the court and throwing punches.

    The game was postponed after the fight and may be made up at a later date. According to a LeMoyne-Owen spokeswoman, the man that threw the chair was not a student. She said that his behavior is “not welcomed on campus.”

    Later, the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic conference announced that they were working with the Memphis Police Department to investigate the situation.

    “Such behavior will not be tolerated in our league under

    Read More »from Ugly brawl ends with fan hitting player in the head with a chair
  • Dillon Brooks left Oregon's win over Cal with a
    Dillon Brooks left Oregon’s win over Cal with a “lower left leg injury.” (AP)

    Any joy Oregon might otherwise have gotten from its 86-63 rout of Cal was tempered by a worrisome injury.

    Pac-12 player of the year candidate Dillon Brooks left the game at the end of the first half with what the Ducks are calling a lower left leg injury.

    The injury appears to have happened on an innocuous play with less than a minute left in the first half when Brooks stepped awkwardly trying to avoid a teammate. Brooks walked to the locker room without assistance but did not return to the floor for the second half.

    What’s especially concerning is that it’s Brooks’ left foot that required surgery after he hurt it during the offseason. Oregon coach Dana Altman would not say after the game whether Brooks had reinjured that foot and offered little clarity on his status going forward.

    Read More »from Oregon holds its breath after Dillon Brooks suffers another injury
  • Saturday’s top 10 clash between North Carolina and Florida State told us a lot about both teams, and almost all of it was positive. (Getty)
    Saturday’s top 10 clash between North Carolina and Florida State told us a lot about both teams, and almost all of it was positive. (Getty)

    Heartbreaking is too strong a word. As Creighton coach Greg McDermott said at a Wednesday press conference that was both reflective and upbeat, nobody died. Nobody was diagnosed with a serious illness. It’s just an ACL.

    But nonetheless, something about Maurice Watson’s season-ending injury was heart-twinging. The fact that McDermott had to give that reminder in the first place spoke volumes about the response to the news.

    “Someone in the national media said, ‘Maurice Watson’s injury is bad for Maurice, it’s bad for Creighton, and it’s bad for college basketball,” McDermott said Wednesday. “I think that’s the ultimate compliment. This little guy has had an impact on our game that people really, really appreciate.”

    As a fan of the sport, it’s impossible to dislike Watson, an unheralded and undersized recruit from Philadelphia who didn’t have a major

    Read More »from College basketball Power Rankings, Jan. 19: North Carolina into the top 5
  • Kodi Justice has overcome dyslexia and is on pace to earn his degree next year (AP)
    Kodi Justice has overcome dyslexia and is on pace to earn his degree next year (AP)

    When Arizona State guard Kodi Justice was a kid, he went into a local store in his hometown of Dobson, Arizona, put his bags up on the counter, and pulled out his wallet. His total appeared on the cash register screen: $12.32.

    Justice gave the cashier $12.23 and couldn’t understand why the man kept saying that he had shorted him nine cents.

    “I kept arguing with him and saying it was enough but then I realized I was wrong because I saw the numbers backwards,” Justice told Yahoo Sports.

    In first grade, Justice was diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disorder that causes the brain to rearrange letters, numbers and words. To this day, he sees D’s as B’s and mixes up number sequences.

    Despite those challenges, Justice has successfully balanced basketball and academics the past two-plus years at Arizona State and is on pace to graduate in 2018. The 6-foot- 5 junior credits his work ethic for helping him push

    Read More »from Basketball has been Kodi Justice's release during life-long bout with dyslexia
  • Jonathan Isaac led Florida State past Notre Dame on Wednesday night. (Getty Images)
    Jonathan Isaac led Florida State past Notre Dame on Wednesday night. (Getty Images)

    In five jaw-dropping minutes Wednesday night, Jonathan Isaac accomplished more than just leading Florida State to an 83-80 victory over Notre Dame.

    The heralded freshman forward also offered a glimpse of what he can become and how an already formidable Seminoles team can get even scarier.

    All the momentum was on Notre Dame’s side with 5:25 to go in the second half and the 15th-ranked Irish having just surged in front. It was then that Isaac turned things around with a shot that gave No. 10 Florida State the lead back for good.

    With Notre Dame in a zone designed to wall off driving lanes and force contested jump shots, Isaac used his 6-foot-10 frame to his advantage. He elevated over 6-foot-1 Matt Farrell with ease and buried a go-ahead 3-pointer from the right wing.

    Isaac’s deep ball sparked an 11-1 Florida State run that put the Seminoles in control of what had been a tightly contested game. The highly

    Read More »from Jonathan Isaac's rapid ascent makes Florida State even scarier
  • On a night when Indiana suffered a key injury and a stunning late-game collapse, James Blackmon made sure the Hoosiers’ woes didn’t deepen further.

    Blackmon sank a pull-up right-wing 3-pointer at the buzzer on Wednesday night to send Indiana to a 78-75 win at Penn State.

    The game-winning 3-pointer from Blackmon came after Indiana squandered a 14-point lead in the final 10 minutes and a seven-point lead with less than a minute to go.  Penn State reeled off seven straight points prior to Blackmon’s shot, tying the game on a pair of Lamar Stevens free throws with just over four seconds to go.

    Had Indiana failed to win at Penn State, it would have been the Hoosiers’ fifth loss in their last seven games. The Hoosiers instead notched their first true road win of the season to improve to 13-6 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten.

    Once Indiana’s celebration died down after Blackmon’s buzzer beater, the

    Read More »from Concern about O.G. Anunoby casts pall over Indiana's buzzer-beating win
  • Jordan Woodard hit three massive shots charging towards the basket late in the Sooners' upset of West Virginia. (Getty)
    Jordan Woodard hit three massive shots charging towards the basket late in the Sooners’ upset of West Virginia. (Getty)

    Through the first two weeks of Big 12 play, there didn’t appear to be too many easier games than a home date with Oklahoma. The Sooners started 0-4 in the league, were under .500 overall, and had lost seven in a row over a 32-day span.

    Those Sooners, however, didn’t have Jordan Woodard.

    The Sooners that travelled to Morgantown, West Virginia on Wednesday night did, and they shocked the seventh-ranked Mountaineers, 89-87 in overtime.

    Woodard hit a circus shot to send the game to an extra-session, and actually missed the and-one free throw that could have won Oklahoma the game in regulation.

    Then, the senior guard — the lone returning star from last year’s Buddy Hield-led Final Four team — did it again to give the Sooners a lead with under a minute to play in overtime:

    Read More »from Jordan Woodard's late-game heroics doom No. 7 West Virginia to puzzling home loss
  • Alonzo Trier hasn't played so far this season for Arizona, and according to ESPN's Jeff Goodman, Trier's absence has been due to a failed drug test. (Getty)
    Allonzo Trier hasn’t played so far this season for Arizona, and according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, Trier’s absence has been due to a failed drug test. (Getty)

    Arizona sophomore guard Allonzo Trier hasn’t played a game yet this season, and the reason for his absence, as first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman and later confirmed by a statement from Trier, is a failed drug test in September.

    Trier was initially suspended by the NCAA for the entire 2016/17 season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs during the preseason, but appealed the decision, won the appeal in December, and has been cleared to return to action once the drug completely exits his system.

    Trier said in the statement that he was “shocked” by the initial positive test.

    “I have never knowingly taken a banned substance,” Trier said. “After finding out that I was given a banned substance by a well-intentioned, but misguided person not associated with the University after an injury, I presented this information

    Read More »from Allonzo Trier failed drug test in preseason, but could return this season
  • Matt Farrell is one of the biggest reasons Notre Dame is alone in first place in the ACC. (AP)
    Matt Farrell is one of the biggest reasons Notre Dame is alone in first place in the ACC. (AP)

    The leading candidate to be named college basketball’s most improved player this season struggles to hide his contempt for that title.

    Notre Dame point guard Matt Farrell insists he was pretty good the past two years too even if he didn’t get many chances to prove it.

    Buried behind future NBA draft picks Jerian Grant and Demetrius Jackson as a freshman, Farrell didn’t leave the bench in more than half Notre Dame’s games and played scant minutes in the rest. Farrell also fell out of the Irish rotation at the start of conference play last season and only averaged 2.6 points and 1.6 assists per game.

    With Grant and Jackson both playing pro ball now, Farrell finally ascended to starting point guard this season and quickly proved that Notre Dame wouldn’t experience a drop-off at the position. The 6-foot-1 junior has scored 14.1 points per game, tallied more than twice as many assists as turnovers

    Read More »from How Matt Farrell went from fringe player to Notre Dame's beating heart
  • Siena beat Rider 78-68 in what should have been a run-of-the-mill Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game Tuesday night. But as we can tell from what transpired immediately following the final horn, it turned out to be anything but ordinary.

    After two ejections and two additional technical fouls late in the second half, Rider’s coaches and players walked off the court without shaking hands. Siena coach Jimmy Patsos, thinking on his feet, made the controversy into a wonderfully comedic moment:

    Here’s an up-close view of Patsos, who is completely in the zone! He doesn’t even crack a smile!

    Here’s more on the incident that led to Rider’s

    Read More »from Siena coach shakes imaginary hands after Rider skips handshake line (Video)
  • Maurice Watson Jr. was as valuable to Creighton as almost any other player is to his team in the country. (Getty)
    Maurice Watson Jr. was as valuable to Creighton as almost any other player is to his team in the country. (Getty)

    First came the collision. Then the second fall. And the agony. Then came the hope. And the MRI. And, finally, the devastation.

    Creighton’s worst fears were realized Tuesday when senior point guard Maurice Watson received the results of an MRI that confirmed he had torn the ACL in his left knee Monday against Xavier. Watson is out for the season. His college career is over in heartbreaking fashion.

    And Creighton, which is 18-1 and ranked seventh in the nation, suddenly is in trouble.

    Tuesday’s MRI results didn’t just confirm the ACL tear. They didn’t just rudely and devastatingly interrupt Creighton’s best season ever. They sent the Bluejays’ burgeoning Final Four candidacy skidding into reverse.

    Creighton’s season isn’t over. Even without Watson for the majority of Monday’s game, the Bluejays held off a ranked Xavier team. But their grandest postseason aspirations, ones that

    Read More »from Maurice Watson's injury is even more damaging to Creighton than you might think
  • Watson injured his knee in Monday's win over Xavier. (AP)
    Watson injured his knee in Monday’s win over Xavier. (AP)

    Maurice Watson Jr. “heard it pop.” And although postgame testing suggested otherwise, Watson’s initial instinct was, unfortunately, correct.

    An MRI showed Tuesday that Creighton’s senior point guard, the nation’s leader in assists, tore the ACL in his left knee during the first half of Monday’s win over Xavier. Watson announced the news on social media, and Creighton later confirmed it in a press release.

    “Sucks that I have to go out this way, but I have terrible news,” Watson wrote on Instagram. “My MRI discovered I suffered a torn ACL. I’m devastated in the fact that I cannot finish out the season with my boys & that my college career is cut short during the best basketball I’ve ever played in my life.

    “I’ve gotten

    Read More »from Creighton's Maurice Watson out for season with torn ACL
  • Only ten other coaches have accomplished what University of North Carolina’s Roy Williams did on Monday night. With the Tar Heels’ 85-68 win over Syracuse, Williams became the 11th coach in college basketball history to notch his 800th career win.

    “Two hundred is more impressive than 100, so when you get to 800 not a lot of guys have done that,” Williams told local media after the game. “So I’m human. I’ve got some feelings about those kind of things, and that was nice, but I hope that I get a few more.”

    Williams achieved his 800 wins in just 29 seasons and 1,012 games. The only coach to reach this mark faster was Adolph Rupp.

    To commemorate the moment, Williams was gifted a custom pair of Jordans signed by Michael Jordan himself. The shiny silver kicks left players bug-eyed and drop-jawed. The shoes were delivered in a wooden box with “800” etched on the outside and “congratulations Roy Williams” etched on the inside.

    This is just the latest achievement in Williams’ impressive

    Read More »from Roy Williams' players went crazy over the gift he got for his 800th win
  • Xavier has lost three straight games for the first time in nearly three years. (AP)
    Xavier has lost three straight games for the first time in nearly three years. (AP)

    Eighteen games into a season that began with sky-high expectations, Xavier hasn’t accomplished as much as it would have hoped.

    The Musketeers have yet to defeat a single team that’s even receiving votes in the latest AP Top 25 poll.

    The best team they’ve beaten is likely Clemson, which is off to a 1-4 start to ACC play. The next best might be Utah, which was without two of its four leading scorers at the time. They also boast wins over rebuilding Wake Forest, hapless Missouri and mid-tier Big East foes Providence, Georgetown and St. John’s for whatever that’s worth.

    Xavier had a trio of chances in the last seven days to validate its Top 25 ranking, but the Musketeers whiffed on all three. They lost by 25 at Villanova last Tuesday. They blew a nine-point first-half lead at Butler on Saturday. And finally they suffered a 72-67 home loss earlier Monday against a Creighton team that lost its best player to a

    Read More »from Three straight losses leave Xavier still in search of first marquee win
  • Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) winces in pain after injuring his knee in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Creighton, Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
    Creighton’s Maurice Watson Jr. winces in pain after injuring his knee. (AP)

    On a day when Creighton picked up its most impressive road win of the season, the Bluejays’ postgame celebration was more muted than usual.

    That’s because their concern lay with starting point guard Maurice Watson, who hurt his left knee late in the first half of his team’s 72-67 victory at Xavier.

    The injury occurred when Watson landed awkwardly after driving for an acrobatic layup. Watson writhed on the floor in pain clutching his knee for several minutes before two teammates carried him to the locker room.

    It’s unclear the severity of the injury at this time, but Creighton coach Greg McDermott told reporters in Cincinnati that the team’s trainers are optimistic Watson didn’t sustain any ligament damage. Watson will undergo further testing this week to evaluate if he might have torn his meniscus.

    Read More »from Creighton loses nation's assists leader to a left knee injury
  • Indiana, as most teams do these days, scored an easy win over Rutgers Sunday. For Tom Crean, whose Hoosiers had lost four of their previous five and started Big Ten play 1-3, it should have been a welcome reprieve from the frustration of the first two weeks of conference play.

    It was not.

    Because with Indiana up 76-57 and six seconds left in the game, rather than run out the clock, freshman guard Devonte Green took an outlet pass, pushed the ball up the court, and threw a lob to a streaking Freddie McSwain:

    Even before the clock hit triple zeros, while Green and McSwain were oblivious to their coach’s ire and foolishly fighting for the loose ball, Crean was storming out towards the middle of the court to scream at Green.

    Crean then hurried over to Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell and, still heated,

    Read More »from Indiana tried to run up the score on Rutgers, failed, and Tom Crean was furious
  • Gonzaga's Johnathan Williams celebrates a first-half dunk (AP).
    Gonzaga’s Johnathan Williams celebrates a first-half dunk (AP).

    For most of Saturday night’s showdown, Gonzaga couldn’t shake Saint Mary’s in its rearview mirror.

    Only in the final eight minutes did the Zags mash the gas pedal one final time and leave the rival Gaels in the dust.

    It started innocently enough with a Nigel Williams-Goss driving layup to extend the lead to eight. Only a couple minutes later, Williams-Goss found Johnathan Williams for a transition dunk that increased the advantage to 15. Gonzaga eventually reeled off 16 straight points to turn a single-digit game into a 79-56 rout.

    Handily winning the first meeting between the WCC’s two best teams does more than just give Gonzaga an early leg up in the league title chase. It also extends the fifth-ranked Zags’ run as college basketball’s last unbeaten team and makes the possibility of finishing the regular season without a loss a bit more realistic.

    Whereas most power-conference teams face their toughest opponents during

    Read More »from Unbeaten season feels more realistic after Gonzaga pounds Saint Mary's
  • The animosity that flared up throughout New Mexico’s 84-71 victory over Colorado State was nothing compared to what happened after the game was over.

    A Rams player and a Lobos assistant coach engaged in a verbal altercation that was on the verge of turning physical before Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy intervened.

    The incident began when Colorado State forward Emmanuel Omogbo exited Moby Arena and encountered several New Mexico coaches standing alongside their team bus. Albuquerque Tribune reporter Geoff Grammer began shooting video soon after Omogbo and New Mexico assistant Terrence Rencher began exchanging words.

    “You’re lucky my coach is holding me back. I’d whoop your ass,” Omogbo shouted at Rencher with Eustachy standing between them.

    “You ain’t whipping

    Read More »from Tense game sparks heated argument between Colorado State player, New Mexico coach
  • Through 34 minutes of North Carolina’s clash with Florida State at the Dean Smith Center Saturday in Chapel Hill, there wasn’t much separating the Tar Heels and Seminoles. The home team had held multiple double-digit leads, but every time, Florida State had charged back. And that’s exactly what the visitors were doing again with six minutes remaining.

    Xavier Rathan-Mayes sunk a free throw, and the lead dwindled to four, 80-76. North Carolina needed a lift. It needed something to separate it from a team that had proven to be every bit its equal. So it turned to one of the best secret weapons in college basketball, one whom the Tar Heels had been without for the season’s first 16 games, and one who may very well make them the best team in the ACC.

    They turned to Theo Pinson. And Pinson went coast to coast, then soared to the rim as the Dean Dome rose with him:

    “It felt like I was floating,” Pinson said after the game. “I was gliding to the basket. And then when I dunked it, I was like,

    Read More »from Theo Pinson sparks North Carolina to statement win over Florida State