NCAA

BYU brings in perimeter shooters to add balance

BYU brings in perimeter shooters to add balance

PROVO, Utah (AP) The accents are the first hint that Brigham Young has made some pretty major changes to its roster.

Argentina's Agustin Ambrosino and Mexico's Raul Delgado are expected to be major contributors this season as is returned missionary Tyler Haws, last seen averaging in double digits as a freshman in 2010 for the Cougars.

BYU even has a guy named Ainge on the squad again, Danny's son Cooper, a freshman point guard expected to back up Matt Carlino.

What coach Dave Rose is counting on most from a team coming off its sixth straight 25-win season and as many NCAA tourney appearances is more balanced play, especially with leading scorer Noah Hartsock graduated.

``Last year we really relied on two post players to carry us through the majority of tough times,'' Rose said of Hartsock and Brandon Davies, who returns for his senior season as BYU's leading rebounder. ``To be more consistent, there has to be balance.''

That's why he put an emphasis on recruiting players who could help from the perimeter.

Delgado, who grew up in Chihuahua, Mexico, once made a dozen 3-pointers in a junior-college game for Western Nebraska Community College.

Power forward Ambrosino, who will help fill the shoes of Hartsock along with sophomore Nate Austin, shot nearly 50 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc at Salt Lake Community College last season.

Then there's Haws, who became a starter just three games into his freshman season while shooting 50 percent from the field and 37 percent from 3-point range before heading off on his church mission in the Philippines.

``We really changed the team a lot this offseason,'' said Carlino, a sophomore. ``Tyler is a big-time player, a big-time shooter, Raul can really shoot and Augie can shoot the ball and is versatile. There are just a lot of guys who are big-time threats to score the basketball and will help our offense a lot.''

Davies, meanwhile, returns as the Cougars' force inside after averaging 15.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks during the 2011-12 season, when BYU finished 26-9 overall.

``I can't wait,'' Davies said of getting practice started Friday. ``It's been too long. This is my last shot, my senior year, so I've got to give it everything I've got.''

Carlino acknowledges it will be tough replacing Hartsock, BYU's all-time shot-blocker, emotional leader and a scrappy player who consistently knocked down a short baseline jumper. The other starter who graduated was wing Charles Abouo.

``All we lost was Noah and Charles, but I don't mean it lightly,'' Davies said. ``Those were two great players. They can't be replaced, but these new guys coming in will do nothing but help us. They can score with the best of them. There's not a guy on this team that can't shoot the ball from the outside.''

Last year the Cougars shot 34 percent from 3-point range - a far cry from the days of Jimmer Fredette.

And BYU is no longer dominating the Mountain West Conference, but entering its second season in the West Coast Conference. The goal once again is to try to win the conference title.

``I'm excited to be in this league, maybe more than I was a year ago,'' Rose said. ``Our players understand a little bit more about the quality of this league. ... The teams at the top are really terrific. We need to lay it out there and see if we can get it done.''

A strong non-conference schedule should only help, with the Cougars playing in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, a tournament that includes Georgia State, Notre Dame, Florida State and Saint Joseph's. December road games include matchups with Baylor, Iowa State and Weber State - all strong programs last season.

This time, Carlino won't have to sit out the first 10 games because of transfer rules.

``It will be a lot different having the whole season and preseason,'' said Carlino, who averaged 12.2 points and 4.6 assists.

The addition of perimeter shooters will allow him to be more of a true point guard, and he's added some muscle up top as coaches want him to be more forceful with his play.

BYU also returns guard Brock Zylstra and forwards Josh Sharp and Stephen Rogers. Rogers' future, however, is in question because of lingering knee problems. He had torn cartilage repaired then another scope to try to resolve persistent swelling issues. But Rose said it's a realistic possibility the injury may be such that Rogers won't be able to play this season.

Delgado already appears luckier. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound JC transfer dislocated his shooting elbow while playing basketball five weeks ago. He went for a dunk, was undercut and tried to break his fall with his arm, only to see it bend behind him.

Doctors initially said recovery would take three to four months but this week he already said he is fully recovered and only wears a brace to protect the elbow and keep it strong.

The recovery isn't much different from that game in junior college where he lit it up from 3-point territory.

``That day everything was going perfectly for me,'' Delgado said.

2018 Big South Tournament Bracket, How to watch, Dates, Preview, Location

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2018 Big South Tournament Bracket, How to watch, Dates, Preview, Location

The Big South conference had a surprising start to their league play this year with preseason favorites UNC-Asheville and Winthrop losing two of their first three games.  Since, things have settled down in the Big South with those two squads separating themselves from the pack late in the season.

This 2017-18 season, the Big South is a single bid conference but does have opportunities to get a couple of teams into the NIT. Depending on how this tournament plays out, there may be two or three teams in the second biggest tournament in the country.

READ MORE: NCAA TOURNAMENT BUBBLE WATCH

Like always the tournament will be hosted at multiple sites. The first round will be on campus-sites with the No.7 and No. 8 teams hosting their respective games. From there, the remaining teams will head to Asheville, NC for two rounds as the Bulldogs earned the No. 1 seed. The highest remaining team will then host the championship game.

Home-court advantage will clearly be a factor for which ever team hosts, but it has also been a theme of the Big South. Combined, the entire conference is 88-38 at their home court. Only Liberty has a winning record on the road at 5-4. The host of the quarterfinals and semifinals, UNC-Asheville, is 13-1 at Kimmel Arena. The lone loss being against Liberty.

Only one year in this format, Winthrop won the championship in 2016-17 as the hosts.

TOURNAMENT INFORMATION:

When is the Big South Tournament?

The Big South Tournament will be Tues. Feb 27, March 1-2, and the Big South championship is on March 4.

Where is the Big South Tournament?
The Big South tournament will primarily be hosted at Kimmel Arena in Asheville, North Carolina. The higher seeds will host the first round match-ups. The Big South Championship will also be at the highest seed’s home court.

How to watch the Big South Tournament?

The Big South Tournament will be televised as a part of ESPN’s family of networks, excluding the first round. The first round can be seen on the Big South Network, the quarterfinals and semifinals will be streamed on ESPN3, and ESPN will televise the Big South Championship.

Who is the defending Big South Champion?

The Winthrop Eagles won the 2016-17 Big South Championship after hosting the main portion of the tournament. It was the Eagles 11th Big South Championship in their history, the most ever in the Big South.

2018 BIG SOUTH TOURNAMENT BRACKET:

First Round – Tuesday, Feb. 27

No. 9 Presbyterian at No. 8 Charleston Southern 7:00 pm (Big South Network/ Roku)
No. 10 Longwood at No. 7 High Point                     7:00 pm (Big South Network/ Roku)

Quarterfinals - Thursday, March 1

7/10 Winner vs. No. 2 Radford                     1:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
No. 6 Gardner-Webb vs. No. 3 Winthrop   3:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
8/9 Winner at No. 1 UNC Asheville              7:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
No. 5 Liberty vs. No. 4 Campbell                  9:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)

Semifinals - Friday, March 2

TBD vs. TBD                          6:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
TBD vs. TBD                          8:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)

Big South Championship - Sunday, March 4

TBD vs. TBD                          1:00pm, higher seed host (ESPN)

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PREVIEW:

Even as the No. 3 seed and losers of their last two games, Winthrop is probably still the favorite heading into the tournament. Their offense is one of the highest scoring in all of college basketball (80.7 ppg), with Xavier Cooks scoring 17.6 ppg (3rd in Big South). However, the Eagles’ offense is not powered entirely behind three-point shooting, it is done with balance on both sides of the ball. They have the best two-point shooting percentage in the league (47.3 percent), lead the Big South in rebounding averages, blocks, and field goal defense. In addition, their guards’ three point shooting ability is pretty good too at 37.5 percent and making 9.5 deep balls a game.

However, when they go quiet from long range or another team matches their three-point shooting for a contest, they are susceptible. Also as defending champs, they have been here before and are motivated to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

As the Big South tournament hosts, UNC Asheville will have a leg up on the competition, but they have not been as dominant as a top seed should be. The Bulldogs are one of the most consistent teams in the conference with all five starters scoring in double figures each game. If one is betting, they are the safe bet to win it all based on what is mentioned above.

While Radford was a pleasant surprise throughout league play, do not anticipate that they will be a contender. They are eighth in scoring in the conference (68.2) and around the same mark when it comes to shooting. Their defense has bailed them out as probably one of the top defensive units in the league, but their leading scorer is a post player, Ed Polite Jr.  (13.6 ppg) and if shut down in the paint, there is no offense.

Liberty is the darkhorse in the Big South Tournament. The do boast the best defensive numbers in the conference (64.0 points against per game) and have a high-powered offense, although it is spotty.  Two players are shooting well above 40 percent or better from behind the arc. Dominating the boards, they limit other team’s second chance opportunities. Do not bet against the Flames in a one-on-one contest.

PICK: No. 3 Winthrop

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Another test

The Wizards continue their difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break against a very dangerous Sixers team. Philly has proven to be very streaky this season, but right now they are rolling. They come to Washington having won their last seven games dating back to Feb. 6 when they beat the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wizards are also playing well, having won eight of their last 11, despite their loss to the Hornets on Friday.

The Sixers are currently seventh in the East and appear on track to make the playoffs. If they keep rising the standings, they could meet the Wizards, who are currently fourth, in the first round. 

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Season series

Speaking of the playoffs, this game could end up looming large for postseason seeding. The Sixers have won two of the three matchups between these teams this year. If they win on Sunday, they will take the season series and own the tiebreaker over Washington.

If the two teams tie head-to-head and end up with the same record at the end of the season, it will then come down to conference record. The Sixers currently have a better record against East teams than the Wizards. But if they can beat Philly this time, the Wizards will have a chance to secure the conference tiebreaker down the stretch of this season.

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Sixers are tough to guard

The Wizards have found out the hard way this season just how difficult it can be to match up with the Sixers, who are led by two emerging stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is 7-foot-1 with rare abilities to stretch the floor and beat opponents off the dribble. Simmons is 6-foot-10, yet can lead the fastbreak with rare speed and vision to find his teammates with crisp passes.

The mobility for their size is almost unmatched and it has not been easy for the Wizards to answer. In their last meeting earlier this month, Simmons had 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Embiid had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Wizards have to try to limit those guys while also dealing with other challenges like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and J.J. Reddick.

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