Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bozzella: "We want consistency" entering third year at Seton Hall

Two 20-win seasons and an NCAA Tournament appearance have resurrected Seton Hall women's basketball, but Tony Bozzella is eager to remain consistent in delivering results. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)

Those who truly are perfectionists at what they do will stay determined to prove their worth when they get a chance. After showing their skills in a short time period, while some may be content to rest on the laurels, those who strive to be the best will find ways to improve on a hot start, concepts and ideas that will make the ascent to the top seem like a mere escalator ride compared to the work put into maintaining their status at an elite level.

Tony Bozzella falls into the latter category, and if you failed to take notice in his first year at Seton Hall following an eleven-year run at Iona; a season in which the Pirates advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT, you were certainly not taken by surprise several months ago when the 49-year-old guided his alma mater to a 28-6 record laced with a regular season Big East championship and subsequent NCAA Tournament berth.

But that was just the beginning of the budding women's basketball dynasty in South Orange. Now, the goals of the fully awakened giant in South Orange boil down to one word as Bozzella enters his third campaign at the helm.

"We want consistency," the perennially enthusiastic and impassioned coach proclaimed when assessing his goals for the encore to what will go down as one of, if not the, most successful of seasons in program history. "That doesn't mean we're going to go 28-6, but we just want an opportunity of being successful enough to put ourselves in the at-large consideration, which is what we got last year. We're still in the infancy stages, but we are getting more consistent with the higher level of recruits that are looking at us, and I think we're going to be a very good team again this year. I'll be disappointed if we're not a contender for a regular season title."

Last year's senior-laden group is an irreplaceable quartet, led by MBWA Player of the Year Ka-Deidre Simmons, who spent time with the Connecticut Sun during the WNBA exhibition season; as well as Daisha Simmons, the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Yet as four of the Pirate mainstays have graduated, that is not to say that the core of the team is nonexistent. In fact, four more seniors return this coming season, with the most integral being sharpshooting wing Tabatha Richardson-Smith, whose growth over the past two years is yet another enduring example of Bozzella's unmatched player development.

"This is a challenge for her," Bozzella said of the senior season for his leading scorer from a year ago, as Richardson-Smith averaged nearly 18 points per game. "I think, as an offense, we have to do a better job of making sure Tab is the No. 1 option, of getting her free, of setting her up. We really never did that in the past, because so much focus was on Didi and Daisha. Now with the focus being on Tab, we'll have to do a better job ourselves; as a staff and as players, of setting her up, and we will."

Making the transition to lead scorer easier for Richardson-Smith will be one of two transfers for the Pirates this season, point guard Aleesha Powell, who spent two years as the hub of Bozzella's offense at Iona before transferring to reunite with him, and possesses an innate knowledge of how to run the Pirates' uptempo attack.

"She's been through the wars of playing against Didi and Daisha every single day in practice," Bozzella said of Powell in addition to her experience against powerhouse programs the likes of Marist while at Iona. "She held her own against some of the best guards in the country, and I think that's going to help. She understands what we want from her. Anytime you shoot 43 percent from three, have a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, and defend the way she did, I don't care if you play in a playground, that's going to help."

Although personnel may dictate that Seton Hall will again be a contender on paper, predictions only go so far, and as Bozzella reiterated, it all boils down to consistency, which he illustrated further by using conference rival St. John's as an example.

"We want to achieve the level of success that St. John's did," he boldly stated. "Kim, (Barnes Arico) and now, Joe, (Tartamella) have done a wonderful job of resurrecting a program that was just awful into a program that is now a perennial national contender. They showed they're a consistent program. That's our goal."

"We're certainly nowhere near the success St. John's has yet," he added, "but if we could post together another good year, I think we'll have made a significant step forward on that."

Monday, June 29, 2015

Liberty 79, Sparks 70: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

NEW YORK CITY­ - On Sunday, the New York Liberty faced a challenge, or two. Coming off Friday’s loss at Tulsa, there was a short time of preparation and the need to direct focus on the visiting Los Angeles Sparks. The visitors entered Madison Square Garden with a 0­-6 record, yet posed a test for the Liberty. In the end, the home five passed it.

A 79-­70 victory, raising the record to 5-­4, saw New York come up with an answer for everything the visitors posed. Kristi Toliver, with a game-high 30 points, was lights out on the perimeter. In the paint Nneka Ogwumike put up a double-­double, scoring 13 points to accompany 16 boards. Regardless, coach Bill Laimbeer’s club was able to ‘hold serve.’

Sugar Rodgers scored a career-high 23 points to lead the Liberty. Tina Charles was her usual, effective, 16-point, 9-rebound self. In the end result, it was a quality not necessarily captured on the stat sheet. It came down to the simple ability to make plays.

In the waning moments of the contest, the score was knotted. The Liberty would not surrender the lead. The crucial basket, the essential stop, whatever was needed to maintain the edge.

The final analysis saw Laimbeer pleased in defeating a deceptively competitive (the Sparks had double-digit leads in five of their losses) team. Coming back and regrouping less than 48 hours after a loss is something quality teams do. Laimbeer, from playing and coaching, is well aware of that.

FDU coaches Pete Cinella (women) and Greg Herenda (men) pose with a few youth players they hosted. The players, from northern New Jersey, had the opportunity to be in line greeting the Liberty starters:
Creedence Clearwater Revival sang about "looking out my back door." Here, we have a few shots of Midtown on a Sunday afternoon, the view courtesy of the MSG press room:
Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer in deep thought on the sideline:
During a free throw, Kristi Toliver of Los Angeles gets a rare respite:
Backcourt action: Defending is the Liberty's Sugar Rodgers, whom Laimbeer praises for her defense:
The Sparks huddle late in the game, with the outcome still in the balance:
Postgame, a relaxed and content Laimbeer:

Friday, June 26, 2015

Sir'Dominic Pointer drafted 53rd overall by Cavaliers

Sir'Dominic Pointer caps off spectacular senior season with selection by Cleveland Cavaliers in second round of Thursday's NBA Draft. (Photo courtesy of the New York Post)

Moments after the clock struck midnight and Thursday night turned into Friday morning, the slipper still fit for St. John's jack of all trades, even over three months removed from the final game of his Cinderella senior season.

Sir'Dominic Pointer, who rose from mediocrity to carry St. John's into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011, was selected in the second round of the NBA Draft, taken by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 53rd overall choice.

"It was just an unbelievable feeling," Pointer told SNY's Josh Newman moments after his selection was revealed via ESPN's ticker, albeit during a commercial break. "You can't even describe it, it's just humbling. It's just an amazing feeling."

Pointer, a 6-6 swingman from Detroit, averaged 13.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game to go with three assists and 2.4 blocked shots per contest as the Red Storm reached the field of 68 for the second time in five years. For his efforts, he was awarded the MBWA/Haggerty Award, recognized as the best player in the metropolitan area by the local writers. He becomes the second St. John's player under former coach Steve Lavin to be drafted, joining his former classmate Maurice Harkless, who was selected 15th overall in 2012 and now plays for the Orlando Magic. Another Red Storm product, JaKarr Sampson, is currently an active member of the Philadelphia 76ers roster, but earned his way to the highest professional level as an undrafted free agent.

Pointer's versatility, which prompted Lavin to call him a "WD-40" player and give him the nickname "Costco," was an integral piece of the Red Storm puzzle in each of his four years in Queens. Now, his multifaceted attack will complement LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on a Cavaliers team that seeks to defend its Eastern Conference championship.

"To get the opportunity to get on the floor with those guys," Pointer said to Newman, "is the greatest feeling in the world. I'm just excited to get this all started."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

2015 NBA Draft: A Running Diary

It has become a tradition, and one that has quickly turned into our favorite offseason post every year.

For the fourth consecutive season, the NBA Draft will be chronicled in the form of a running diary, which was inspired in an effort to avoid one writer after the other scooping picks on Twitter before they were announced by then-commissioner David Stern. As the years passed, the entertainment grew, the creativity blossomed, and our love for Fran Fraschilla still knows no bounds.

The actual proceedings may be just 20 minutes away from Daly Dose headquarters at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but allow us to bring the draft to you for the next several hours:

7:00 - ESPN opens the gates for its pregame show after jumping the shark on SportsCenter with rapper Wiz Khalifa performing live. Musical guests? Since when did Bristol's flagship program morph into Saturday Night Live?

7:01 - Rant over. Before we officially begin, let's pour one out for Bill Simmons, whose own diaries on his popular ESPN column helped bring this baby to life. Bill is not a part of this year's festivities, at least on the air, and while that may be a good thing for most; including this writer, he at least deserves the respect for serving as the impetus for this idea.

7:03 - Rece Davis shown on camera for the first time, introducing the panel. Jalen Rose returns, as does Jay Bilas. Jay Williams replaces Simmons on set.

7:04 - Two Duke alumni as analysts is never good for the soul.

7:04 - Bilas opens his mouth for the first time. Draft night may be the only day out of the year in which he is not insufferable. Yes, our opinions of Jay have taken a drastic turn since last year, because quite frankly, his act and status as a Duke homer/shill has grown old and stale.

7:06 - No Fran Fraschilla yet. C'mon, guys!

7:07 - Brian Windhorst, reporting live from Minnesota, says the Timberwolves are locked in on Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky in the top spot. This is only a stunning development in that Windhorst is actually talking about a person not named LeBron James. No word on whether this is a first-time occurrence, however.

7:12 - I'll admit that I don't know much about Tom Penn other than his being the salary cap guy, but he sounds like he knows what he's talking about. Sign me up.

7:13 - Shannon Spake, best known on ESPN for her pit road reporting on NASCAR coverage, and Heather Cox are now handling player interviews as opposed to Shane Battier. BEST UPGRADE THE NETWORK HAS EVER MADE.

7:17 - ESPN rejoins with the lottery footage announcing the Knicks would pick fourth overall.

7:18 - Dejected Knick fans for the win!!!

7:18 - Chris Broussard reporting live from Knick headquarters at SUNY Purchase.

7:19 - Broussard's "LeBRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN" count: 0

7:19 - Broussard reporting the Knicks will take Emmanuel Mudiay if he is there at No. 4 overall. Fully expecting friend of the site J.P. Pelzman, who does an outstanding job with the Bergen Record, to mention "Da Kid From Chinar;" which is how my former colleague Mike Francesa referred to Mudiay on the air, if this does happen.

7:26 - Friend of the site, and one of our former writers Jason Schott, covering the draft live from Barclays Center, sends along this shot of the one and only cult legend Robert Elkin:

7:27 - FRAN FRASCHILLA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7:27 - The reaction to Fraschilla's appearance, from Daly Dose headquarters:

7:32 - Officially underway as ESPN returns from the final pre-show commercial.

7:32 - Adam Silver makes his second entrance as master of ceremonies for the first round. I think I speak for everyone when I say I miss David Stern.

7:33 - Silver gets booed, predictably, for mentioning the Golden State Warriors winning the NBA championship.

7:33 - Obligatory jokes about Silver's ears acquiring satellite television signals.

7:34 - The Minnesota Timberwolves are on the clock.

7:36 - Moment of truth: Somebody's life's about to change. Fabrizio?

7:36 - This one is for all my fellow children of the '80s:

7:37 - With the first pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select Karl-Anthony Towns, forward from the University of Kentucky, and previously, St. Joseph's High School in Metuchen, New Jersey.

7:38 - Obligatory reminder that friend of the site Jon Alba called Towns' game versus East Brunswick High School last year.

7:39 - Bilas "wingspan" count: 1. Start the drinking game.

7:41 - This year's draft hats actually don't look all that bad. It's about time.

7:43 - Karl-Anthony Towns is officially off to Minnesota. As Edith Bunker once said, "isn't that the place where Mary Tyler Moore keeps losing her hat?"

7:43 - Hey Karl, you're going to make it after all.

7:44 - Personally, I prefer the Joan Jett version.

7:44 - Shock number one, sending our mock draft into the dumpster: The Los Angeles Lakers pass on Jahlil Okafor, taking Ohio State point guard D'Angelo Russell second overall.

7:45 - Rumors of a trade for DeMarcus Cousins penetrated the landscape yesterday, but if Russell stays in Los Angeles, he and Kobe Bryant are one heck of a backcourt. Remember, trades cannot be announced until all respective picks involved have been made.

7:48 - D'Angelo Russell sounds very humble in his post-selection interview. Already a great player in college, and now he will become an even better one if he can learn from Kobe.

7:49 - The Philadelphia 76ers are now on the clock, with Jahlil Okafor having fallen into their laps unless Sam Hinkie, no stranger to shaking it up on draft night, opts for Kristaps Porzingis, the Latvian phenom.

7:53 - Before announcing the Sixers' pick, Adam Silver pays tribute to longtime NBA stat pioneer Harvey Pollack, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 93.

7:54 - No surprise here, as Philadelphia takes advantage of having Jahlil Okafor gift-wrapped for them after the Lakers opted for D'Angelo Russell.

7:54 - Not even one second after the pick comes in, and here's Jay Bilas gushing over Okafor. This is worse than listening to an endless loop of "Glory Days."

7:55 - Team needs graphic for the New York Knicks, now on the clock, reads as follows: "Everything." So apropos.

7:57 - That is one sweet 76ers logo.

7:58 - Andy Katz makes his first appearance of the night, informing a worldwide audience that the Sixers intend to keep Jahlil Okafor.

7:59 - If the Knicks take Porzingis, Barclays Center may explode. Selfishly, I hope they do.


8:02 - Fran Fraschilla compares Porzingis to an extra in a Dolph Lundgren movie. Outstanding.

8:03 - The reaction from Daly Dose headquarters as the Knicks take Porzingis:

8:04 - Hey Knick fans, remember Frederic Weis?

8:06 - Can the Magic somehow, stunningly, not overthink this pick? Stay tuned.

8:08 - Jalen Rose suggesting Orlando will take Mario Hezonja, the Croatian sharpshooter. Justise Winslow or Emmanuel Mudiay would be the better choice.

8:09 - And here it is: The Orlando Magic select Mario Hezonja.

8:10 - Did the ghosts of Fran Vazquez and Evan Fournier make this pick? Jeez.

8:12 - Mudiay and Winslow still on the board for the Sacramento Kings, who are on the clock at No. 6.

8:15 - Recovering from the kick to the gut, we return from a commercial break to another shock, as Willie Cauley-Stein goes to Sacramento sixth overall. A defensive stud and athletic freak, the seven-footer instantly upgrades the Kings even if he probably will not score much.

8:19 - Way to spoil it, ESPN. A graphic popped up stating that their own Jeff Goodman was informed that the Denver Nuggets would take Emmanuel Mudiay seventh overall, which puts one-time North Carolina national champion point guard Ty Lawson on the block.

8:21 - Obligatory reminder of the last time the national title went to Chapel Hill:

8:22 - Bilas downplaying Willie Cauley-Stein's rebounding ability. If the kid went to Duke, Jay would be singing a different tune.

8:22 - Adam Silver confirms the Jeff Goodman scoop. Emmanuel Mudiay heads to Denver at No. 7.

8:24 - Fran Fraschilla for the third time in the first seven picks, to provide a scouting report on Mudiay.

8:28 - Not for nothing, Simmons would have been an entertainment upgrade on the studio set this year.

8:28 - Justise Winslow is STILL on the board after the Detroit Pistons select Stanley Johnson at the No. 8 spot. This is a great pick here, as Johnson was one of the best freshmen in the nation for Sean Miller last season at Arizona.

8:29 - Bilas "wingspan" count: 2

8:29 - Now on the clock at No. 9 for the second consecutive year are the Charlotte Hornets, who may now be looking for help up front after trading for Nicolas Batum yesterday.

8:33 - The minions from the "Despicable Me" movies, who now have a film of their own whose trailer just aired, could probably be competent NBA general managers in the minds of more than a few fans tonight.

8:35 - No mentions of offensive efficiency or points per possession from anyone yet. That's a shame.

8:36 - Charlotte takes Frank Kaminsky ninth overall. That can only mean one thing:

8:37 - 

8:37 - Charlotte fans right about now: "WE'RE GOING STREAKING!!!"

8:38 - Everybody's doing it!

8:39 - "Talk about" from Shannon Spake as she interviews Kaminsky. Josh Newman, that one was for you.

8:41 - The Miami Heat make a rare appearance in the lottery, picking tenth overall and perhaps landing Justise Winslow, who remains available.

8:41 - Not anymore. Winslow off the board to the Heat, and he will immediately contribute alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

8:42 - This is eerily similar to how Matt Leinart fell in 2006, also to tenth, where he was selected by the Arizona Cardinals. Hopefully Winslow has a longer career.

8:42 - Bilas "wingspan" count: 3

8:43 - Not gonna lie, the first time I heard of Justise Winslow, I immediately thought of Carl Winslow. With that said...

8:46 - College basketball insider Jon Rothstein with the line of the night thus far:

8:49 - With the eleventh pick, the Indiana Pacers reach a little bit to select Texas freshman Myles Turner, a burgeoning 6-11 shot blocker with mounds of potential.

8:50 - Wingspan count: 4

8:52 - Utah on the clock at No. 12 as ESPN heads to break. The Jazz could go in a few different directions here, and my pick of Frank Kaminsky is good for toilet paper right about now.

8:55 - Jay Williams really looks out of his element on the studio set. As a broadcaster, I've learned to read body language as I've grown in the business, and he's 50 shades of uncomfortable right now.

8:56 - Trey Lyles becomes the third Kentucky lottery pick, as the Jazz take him at No. 12.

8:56 - You learn something new every day: Trey Lyles is Canadian?

8:57 - Both national anthems, courtesy of the great John Amirante:

9:00 - Death. Taxes. John Calipari posturing to remind people he's a righteous dude.

9:01 - They all adore him!

9:03 - Devin Booker, who kind of looks like Mario Lopez, is the fourth Wildcat off the board, taken at No. 13 by the Phoenix Suns. Mike Ferraro just picked up a new player to root for.

9:05 - The lottery is about to conclude with the Seattle SuperSonics...I mean, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

9:07 - Since I mentioned Seattle, and this is still fresh in everyone's minds...

9:10 - Billy Donovan's first draft pick as head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder is Cameron Payne, the point guard from Murray State. This kid is good enough to where he can free Russell Westbrook up to play off the ball, or vice versa. Solid pick by Sam Presti.

9:13 - Cameron Payne speaks of himself in the third person during his interview, mentioning he's coming in to do the dirty work.

9:14 - Instead of going with the obvious Norm Macdonald "Dirty Work" reference, allow me to go with Donald Fagen instead:

9:15 - Gary Moore and Walter Barrett would disown me if I didn't immediately double down on Steely Dan references with this former Iona pep band standard:


9:17 - The post-lottery portion of the night begins with Kelly Oubre going to the Atlanta Hawks at the No. 15 spot.

9:18 - Wingspan count: 5

9:19 - We have our first trade of the night. Jeff Goodman is first on the scene, reporting that Oubre is going to the Washington Wizards. The former Bullets will, in turn, draft for the Hawks at No. 19.

9:21 - Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics are next up to begin the second half of the first round, potentially for a rim protector or a scoring combo guard.

9:22 - "This isn't about me, but it should be about me." If you needed a reason as to why Jay Bilas is insufferable, you just got one.

9:23 - Tom Penn returns to explain the Celtics' salary cap situation. Where was he in 2010 when Frank Qasim and I were trying to figure out the difference between Bird rights and early Bird rights?

9:25 - Brad Stevens gets a typical Brad Stevens player in Terry Rozier of Louisville, a late-round projection who goes at No. 16, but fits the Celtics' system more than you may think.

9:30 - Milwaukee on the clock at No. 17, and the Bucks use the pick on UNLV guard Rashad Vaughn, whose near-18 points per game were third-best in the nation among freshmen.

9:32 - Mountain West guru Andy Glockner is well represented with this selection.

9:34 - What is this all about? This is the NBA Draft, not the red carpet at the Academy Awards.

9:36 - "Dance To The Music" plays at Barclays Center, audible enough to be heard through the TV. Everyone could use a little more Sly & The Family Stone in their lives.

9:38 - NCAA Tournament darling Sam Dekker is finally off the board, as the Wisconsin swingman goes to the Houston Rockets at No. 18 overall. Dekker could push James Harden into the backcourt, and take a load off of Josh Smith and Dwight Howard up front.

9:44 - Jerian Grant becomes Mike Brey's latest draft pick, as the Notre Dame combo guard gets selected by the Wizards at No. 19, but is likely headed to Atlanta in exchange for the rights to Kelly Oubre.

9:45 - Jalen Rose compares Grant to Greivis Vasquez, one of my favorite college players of all time. Not a bad choice.

9:46 - Jeff Goodman reporting Jerian Grant is on his way to New York, as the Knicks will acquire him and send Tim Hardaway Jr. to Atlanta.

9:51 - Toronto gets a steal and an underrated guard, taking Delon Wright of Utah at No. 20. John Fanta of WSOU sold me on Wright midway through the year, and the kid has the goods. Looking forward to watching him and Vasquez in the same backcourt if the latter returns.

9:52 - We need a stash pick here. Fran Fraschilla has been gone too long.

9:56 - Phil Jackson trying to put a positive spin on the Porzingis pick. Come on, Phil, just admit that Dolan forced the pick on you.

9:57 - I've been off Twitter, so I haven't seen how Frank Isola is trolling the Knicks. Any updates?

9:58 - Justin Anderson, the rugged Virginia forward, goes to the Dallas Mavericks at 21. Solid pick with one of the best players available.

9:59 - Wingspan count: 6

10:00 - Tom Penn and Fran Fraschilla attempting to make sense of the next several picks. Pat Connaughton to the Bulls, although unorthodox, would be a typical Fred Hoiberg player. Bobby Portis to Portland makes sense with LaMarcus Aldridge potentially on his way out, as does R.J. Hunter to Cleveland.

10:04 - Bobby Portis goes one spot earlier than the ESPN projection, landing at No. 22 to the Chicago Bulls.

10:05 - Wingspan count: 7

10:05 - For those playing the Bilas drinking game, how are y'all feeling so far?

10:12 - Portland breaks the silence with the 23rd pick, and the Blazers take Arizona swingman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the second Wildcat drafted in the first round.

10:14 - Cleveland now on the clock. Let's see what LeBron James gets as a reinforcement for next season.

10:20 - Adam Silver announces the Kelly Oubre and Jerian Grant trades, the latter of which gets a substantial pop from Knick fans in attendance.

10:21 - David Stern's replacement, a Duke alumnus, smirks as he announces Tyus Jones to Cleveland at No. 24.

10:21 - Among people named Adam, Adam Duritz is higher on the popularity list than Adam Silver. Speaking of which, didn't Cleveland just draft a Mr. Jones?

10:23 - Tom Penn with the Cavaliers' salary cap scenario. Excellent job by ESPN's other analyst providing useful information while Fran Fraschilla waits for an international pick.

10:25 - Tyus Jones is going home to Minnesota, with the Timberwolves sending Cleveland both of their second-round picks.

10:26 - Tyus Jones, for those of you scoring at home, is a native of Apple Valley, Minnesota, not St. Olaf:

10:27 - Hey, I got one right on the mock draft! Jarell Martin to the Memphis Grizzlies at No. 25 overall.

10:28 - San Antonio on the clock, with presumably another typical Spurs pick on the way.

10:31 - Nikola Milutinov of Serbia. Yup, typical Spurs pick.


10:33 - The Lakers are back on the clock after shaking up the draft three hours ago with the selection of D'Angelo Russell in the No. 2 hole. Gotta think they take a big man at No. 27, maybe Montrezl Harrell of Louisville, who is still out there.

10:35 - Byron Scott on Russell: "I think Kobe will love him." I concur.

10:37 - Mountain West Player of the Year Larry Nance Jr., son of the Cleveland Cavaliers legend, is a surprise pick at No. 27 for the Lakers.

10:40 - Pick number two for the Celtics comes at No. 28 overall, with this selection serving as their compensation for the Doc Rivers deal with the Clippers.

10:44 - R.J. Hunter augments the Celtics' backcourt, joining Terry Rozier as Brad Stevens' newcomers.

10:46 - Obligatory Hunter highlight:

10:46 - When Jerry Beach presented Ron Hunter Sr. with an award for meritorious service against Hofstra:

10:49 - The Brooklyn Nets on the clock in their own building. Whoever they take, Jason Schott will have a recap soon.

10:49 - Bronx native Chris McCullough, who turned down St. John's for Syracuse, goes to the Nets at No. 29, and is a shot blocking sensation who made a huge impact in the 2-3 zone defense before tearing his ACL.

10:53 - The token tribute to David Stern, with the 30th pick on the way:

10:55 - Kevon Looney of UCLA stays in California to end the first round, going 30th overall to the reigning champion Golden State Warriors.

10:56 - Adam Silver misspeaks, referring to Barclays Center as "Barclays Arena."

10:58 - Rod Thorn gets a slight chorus of boos as he is honored at the end of the first round.

10:59 - Minnesota is back on the clock, drafting at No. 31 for the Cavaliers with the first pick of the second round.

10:59 - Deputy commissioner Mark Tatum is on his way out to begin the final round. No Russ, no thanks.

11:00 - #WeWantGranik

11:04 - Minnesota starts the second round by selecting Turkish guard Cedi Osman for the Cavaliers.

11:04 - Welcome back, Fran Fraschilla.

11:07 - Moving right along, as Houston takes Montrezl Harrell at No. 32 overall.

11:12 - Boston's third pick goes on a big man, as LSU's Jordan Mickey is the choice for the Celtics at No. 33.

11:14 - Pick number three for the Lakers, and No. 34 overall, goes to two-time NIT champion Anthony Brown of Stanford.

11:16 - Philadelphia back on the clock at No. 35, but not before an assessment of the Sixers' roster and cap situation, compliments of Tom Penn.

11:18 - The second of what should be many stash picks in the second round sees Guillermo Hernangomez taken by the Sixers, which cues a Fran Fraschilla scouting report.

11:19 - Syracuse gets their second draft pick, as Rakeem Christmas is taken by Minnesota, but will be traded to Cleveland as part of the Tyus Jones trade.

11:20 - Wingspan count: 8

11:23 - While away at commercial break, ESPN keeps their bottom line crawling across the screen to allow everyone to see Bowling Green's Richaun Holmes taken by the 76ers at No. 37.

11:26 - A Big East player goes, as the Pistons get themselves a major steal in Villanova's Darrun Hilliard at No. 38.

11:26 - Wingspan count: 9

11:28 - Cue the celebration for friend of the site David Freeman, who has known Hilliard and his father for many years as both grew up in the Lehigh Valley.

11:29 - Juan Vaulet of Argentina goes to the Hornets at No. 39, while Tennessee's Josh Richardson lands in the No. 40 spot with the Heat. At least we get Fraschilla on the way back from the break.

11:31 - Wingspan count: 10, or more than any Branden Frazier bad shot count we did for four years at Fordham.

11:32 - At No. 41, the Nets take Notre Dame swingman Pat Connaughton. OUTSTANDING SELECTION.

11:33 - Wingspan count: 11

11:35 - The Tyus Jones trade is formally announced before Mark Tatum announces the 42nd pick, which the Utah Jazz use on Boston College guard Olivier Hanlan, who is a first-round talent that becomes a gold mine in this spot.

11:37 - Joseph Young goes to the Pacers at No. 43, continuing the run on steals in the middle of the second round. Indiana gets their replacement for Lance Stephenson, as Young can; and will, score in bunches and rack up mounds of points.

11:38 - Phoenix takes one of the Harrison twins, with Andrew going to the Suns at No. 44 to mark the fifth Kentucky player off the board.

11:38 - The NBA is really showing baseball a thing or two when it comes to pace of game.

11:40 - #CAAHoops gets a draft pick! Marcus Thornton of William & Mary to the Celtics at No. 45.

11:43 - Norman Powell is the second UCLA Bruin off the board, heading to Milwaukee with the 46th overall selection.

11:45 - "YMCA" blasts through the speakers at Barclays Center. Robert Elkin's national anthem!

11:46 - Fran Fraschilla gets to tell us about Arturas Gudaitis, who the 76ers will stash with the 47th pick.

11:47 - Andy Katz is back for the first time in what seems like an eternity, as Barclays Center plays "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" on the six-year anniversary of Michael Jackson's death.

11:48 - The Nets have traded Mason Plumlee and Pat Connaughton to Portland for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Steve Blake, while Norman Powell appears headed to Toronto.

11:49 - At No. 48, Oklahoma City takes the sixth Kentucky Wildcat, drafting seven-footer Dakari Johnson, who played for former St. Patrick's head coach Kevin Boyle at Montverde Academy in Florida.

11:50 - We only need Aaron Harrison for Kentucky draft night bingo.

11:51 - Iowa forward Aaron White goes to the Wizards at No. 49, with the Atlanta Hawks next up on the clock.

11:54 - Ten picks to go as Swedish guard Marcus Eriksson is the 50th choice, going to Atlanta as a stash pick.

11:55 - ESPN needs to cut away from this kid talking about bow ties and throw it to Fran Fraschilla already.

11:57 - The Magic go with an underrated scorer in the second round, taking the nation leader at No. 51, Tyler Harvey of Eastern Washington.

11:58 - Satnam Singh of India will be stashed after Dallas takes him 52nd. Here's Fran Fraschilla.

11:59 - Dallas just drafted The Great Khali.

12:01 - During the break, Sir'Dominic Pointer of St. John's goes 53rd to the Cavaliers. Score one for the alma mater.

12:04 - Fran Fraschilla breaks down Daniel Diez, the 54th overall pick, stashed by the Utah Jazz.

12:05 - Excellent pick by the Spurs at No. 55, taking UMass' double-double machine Cady Lalanne.

12:05 - Wingspan count: 12

12:06 - Five more to go, with Cliff Alexander and Christian Wood, both of whom were projected as early as the end of the first round, among those still available.

12:07 - Another stellar pick, as the New Orleans Pelicans grab Michigan State forward Branden Dawson at No. 56.

12:10 - Fran Fraschilla gets at least one more pick to extol the virtues of, as Nikola Radicevic of Serbia gets stashed at No. 57 by the Denver Nuggets.

12:13 - Greivis Vasquez goes to Milwaukee in exchange for the rights to Norman Powell.

12:15 - North Carolina is on the board, as J.P. Tokoto is the choice at No. 58 for the 76ers.

12:16 - One more Fran Fraschilla breakdown, as Dimitrios Agravanis is the penultimate selection for the Atlanta Hawks, who stash him at No. 59.

12:17 - Who will be this year's Mr. Irrelevant?

12:17 - For the last time, the Philadelphia 76ers are on the clock.

12:18 - Still an Aaron Harrison away from Kentucky draft night bingo. Will the Sixers grab the final member of the Magnificent Seven?

12:19 - Here we go.

12:20 - Fran Fraschilla brings down the curtain with Serbia's Luka Mitrovic. Aaron Harrison goes from lottery pick had he come out last year to undrafted free agent.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The 2015 Daly Dose Of Hoops Mock Draft

Jahlil Okafor (left) may have national championship ring, but prevailing opinions see Karl-Anthony Towns (right) going to Timberwolves with first pick in Thursday's NBA Draft. (Photo courtesy of Adam Zagoria's ZagsBlog)

In the words of the late great John Lennon in his oft-overlooked holiday classic "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)," "so, this is Christmas."

Well, not quite from a Gregorian calendar perspective, but considering the NBA Draft will be held in just over 48 hours, a mere 20 minutes from Daly Dose headquarters inside Brooklyn's Barclays Center, it may as well be.

For the sixth consecutive year, we will try to make sense of the first of two rounds, with our mock draft serving as an appetizer for an event that has become one of our favorites in which to partake, the annual running diary of draft night. Until then, take a few bites out of our projections, and feel free to criticize the almost certain multitude of mistakes:

1) Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns (F - Kentucky)
Draft night's second consecutive dilemma of who to select at the top spot is clearer than some may think. No slight to Jahlil Okafor, whose brute strength and Tim Duncan-esque post play helped Duke to a fifth national championship this past April, but the 19-year-old Towns is a much better defender, and all-around shot maker. By taking John Calipari's latest prodigy, Minnesota finally gets its replacement for Kevin Garnett after an eight-year period of soul searching, and Towns gets the services of Ricky Rubio to make him an even more imposing force in the Western Conference.

2) Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor (C - Duke)
With Towns off the board, Okafor lands in Los Angeles, and becomes the Lakers' latest interior presence. In an ironic twist of fate, he would join a Kentucky product on Byron Scott's front line in Julius Randle, whose broken leg cost him his entire rookie season save for one game. In Okafor, Laker fans will see one of their best rim protectors since Shaquille O'Neal grace the paint, a welcome sign as Kobe Bryant gears up for one last moment in the sun.

3) Philadelphia 76ers: D'Angelo Russell (G - Ohio State)
This is where the draft will be thrown off course one way or another, as the Sixers have been rumored to covet international X-factor Kristaps Porzingis in this spot. Although Sam Hinkie has shown an affinity for big men with his selection of Joel Embiid and acquisition of Nerlens Noel on draft night two years ago, Russell fits Philadelphia's needs more logically in addition to being the best player available, giving the City of Brotherly Love its best floor general and passer since Allen Iverson.

4) New York Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis (F - Latvia)
Porzingis, who played professionally in Spain before intriguing scouts and executives stateside, could even slide to Orlando in the fifth spot if the Knicks decide to take Emmanuel Mudiay. The Latvian big man could even go to Philadelphia, leaving Russell to fall into Phil Jackson's lap. However, after downplaying his need for a guard in pre-draft interviews, Jackson seems to be thinking of going with a forward or trading the pick, another likely scenario where the Knicks could get a Willie Cauley-Stein or Frank Kaminsky if they move down in the order.

5) Orlando Magic: Justise Winslow (F - Duke)
Porzingis is the pick if he somehow gets past the Knicks, given Orlando's tendency to use first-round selections on international talent. With the European phenom off the board here, the Magic get perhaps the best player in the draft in Winslow, and one who fills a glaring need on the wing. The second option on Duke's national championship team behind Jahlil Okafor, Winslow has been criticized for not having a true NBA position in much the same vein that Tyler Hansbrough was after winning a national title of his own, but his defensive skill and floor awareness on both ends would position him well alongside Elfrid Payton and Victor Oladipo, as well as Nikola Vucevic up front.

6) Sacramento Kings: Emmanuel Mudiay (G - Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Both Winslow and Croatian wing Mario Hezonja have been rumored in this spot, but Mudiay; the combo guard who opted to play in China last season after eligibility problems arose at SMU, is simply too talented for Sacramento to pass up. George Karl has always had great point guards running his offense, from Gary Payton to Andre Miller to Ty Lawson, and Mudiay's potential is just as high as the skill sets of the three aforementioned names.

7) Denver Nuggets: Mario Hezonja (F - Croatia)
Another European who played professionally in Spain, Hezonja is a 6-8 wing whose three-point prowess will be an asset for a Nuggets team led by Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried. Randy Foye is not getting any younger, and Danilo Gallinari is miscast to an extent, two more reasons why Hezonja would complement Denver better than anyone else available in this spot.

8) Detroit Pistons: Stanley Johnson (F - Arizona)
Johnson was among the most athletic players in the nation last season for Sean Miller as he helped lead the Wildcats to the Elite Eight. Several months later, he is in position to be Detroit's replacement for Josh Smith as the Pistons fill their biggest need.

9) Charlotte Hornets: Devin Booker (G - Kentucky)
College basketball insider Jon Rothstein is at his best when it comes to predicting the landing spots of late lottery picks, and he has already declared that Booker will probably not get past Charlotte. Throw in the Hornets' recent trade of Lance Stephenson and Steve Clifford suddenly needs a guard to team up with Kemba Walker, and this Kentucky product plugs the hole well, not to mention he immediately addresses Charlotte's woes from three-point range.

10) Miami Heat: Myles Turner (C - Texas)
Pat Riley tends to select more experienced college players every year, but when a player with the talent and potential of Turner comes along, it is hard for any team to pass up on him. Miami would like to find a guard or small forward to help replace the aging Dwyane Wade, but no one who fits that mold is worthy of such a high selection, leaving the Heat to shore up their front line, a concern that is getting overlooked more than it should, even with a returning Chris Bosh.

11) Indiana Pacers: Willie Cauley-Stein (C - Kentucky)
The Pacers are in the market for interior help alongside Roy Hibbert, and Cauley-Stein not only gives Indiana a second seven-footer up front, his defensive game is the best of any player in the draft. Cauley-Stein's medical concerns have him potentially falling to the fringe of the lottery, but Larry Bird will be more than happy to scoop him up here if he is still available.

12) Utah Jazz: Frank Kaminsky (C - Wisconsin)
The run on big men continues with the selection of "Frank the Tank," who is projected to be off the board within the first ten picks if the experts' opinions hold to form. Kaminsky has his critics for various reasons, but is one of the more pro-ready prospects available after four years and two Final Fours alongside Bo Ryan in Madison, something Utah can ill afford to pass up even with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert on the roster.

13) Phoenix Suns: Bobby Portis (F - Arkansas)
Trey Lyles could be the fourth Kentucky player to go in the lottery, but Phoenix opts instead for experience in the form of Portis, the SEC Player of the Year last season, who should have a productive rookie season wherever he ends up.

14) Oklahoma City Thunder: Cameron Payne (G - Murray State)
Don't be too shocked if the Thunder trade this pick, but should they choose to keep it, Payne is a steal in this spot for his ability to score in bunches and play off the ball alongside Russell Westbrook if needed. The mid-major standout was already brought in for a workout by Oklahoma City, so he will be on their radar regardless of the decision they make with the pick.

15) Atlanta Hawks: Kelly Oubre (F - Kansas)
Oubre has been projected as high as eighth to Detroit, and as low as the late teens and early twenties. Whoever gets him gets one of the highest upsides in the draft, and Mike Budenholzer will certainly be able to tap into that early and often with Oubre going to Atlanta to learn from Al Horford and Paul Millsap.

16) Boston Celtics: Trey Lyles (F - Kentucky)
For some reason, Lyles just seems like a player that fits Brad Stevens' system. The Celtics could use an interior presence, but with all the true centers off the board in this spot, they instead take Lyles and his combination of size and offensive genius that belies his one year of collegiate experience.

17) Milwaukee Bucks: Kevon Looney (F - UCLA)
The Bucks can, and may very well, go for a guard at this stage, but after trading Ersan Ilyasova, Jason Kidd gets the services of Looney, the one-and-done whose rebounding talent is unmatched by most in this year's draft class.

18) Houston Rockets: Tyus Jones (G - Duke)
Houston has several options with this pick, acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans. Whomever they do select, it will most likely be a guard with a recovering Patrick Beverley recovering from injury and no younger options than Jason Terry in the backcourt. Jones, whose clutch shots and valiant NCAA Tournament stand were integral in Duke winning the national championship, is the perfect running mate for James Harden and Dwight Howard.

19) Washington Wizards: Montrezl Harrell (F - Louisville)
The Wizards' backcourt is set for the next few years with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Their front line, on the other hand, could use some improvement, and Harrell's physical, imposing style would take several prisoners in the Eastern Conference, and could be the piece Washington needs to get over the hump.

20) Toronto Raptors: Sam Dekker (F - Wisconsin)
Even though Toronto already has Demar DeRozan on the wing, Dekker is an absolute steal in this spot, and with so many other teams in front of the Raptors craving rim protectors, the pride of Wisconsin is able to take his talents north of the border.

21) Dallas Mavericks: Jerian Grant (G - Notre Dame)
Rajon Rondo is, for all intents and purposes, probably not coming back next year, which allows Dallas to take a point guard to develop while J.J. Barea and Raymond Felton hold down the fort. In Grant, a combo guard whose passing skills are vastly underrated due to his larger size compared to most others at the point, the Mavs get someone who can play three different positions, not to mention hit a few shots when they matter most.

22) Chicago Bulls: Justin Anderson (F - Virginia)
The conventional pick for the Bulls may be a point guard with Derrick Rose's health almost perennially in question, but a player the likes of Anderson is hard to ignore. The "glue guy" for a Virginia team that played much better than their early NCAA Tournament exit indicated, Anderson was the reason why the Cavaliers were a Top 5 program throughout the season, and had he not gone down with a broken finger late in the regular season, there is a very good chance that he could have led Virginia to an even better result.

23) Portland Trail Blazers: R.J. Hunter (G - Georgia State)
The darling of this year's NCAA Tournament now gets to hone his craft alongside one of the NBA's rising stars in Damian Lillard, giving the Blazers a pair of gifted guards who can create their own shot just as well as they can set up for their teammates.

24) Cleveland Cavaliers: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (F - Arizona)
Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson may be on their way out of Cleveland this summer due to free agency, and with a returning Kyrie Irving and Matthew Dellavedova maintaining the status quo at the point guard spot, a shooting guard could be the option, but Hollis-Jefferson's athleticism on the wing and guard-like instincts could allow LeBron James to be an even more menacing presence up front for the Cavs as they defend their Eastern Conference crown.

25) Memphis Grizzlies: Jarell Martin (F - LSU)
The Grizz augment their front line with the selection of a potential steal in Martin, whom they reportedly worked out before the draft and perhaps promised they would select if he were still there. Either way, Martin makes it possible for Memphis to possibly find a suitor for Jeff Green, an impending free agent after next season.

26) San Antonio Spurs: Guillermo Hernangomez (C - Spain)
With Tim Duncan close to retirement, the Spurs decide to stash one of his potential replacements in Hernangomez, a 6-11, 250-pound Spaniard who is projected to be a walking double-double at the professional level.

27) Los Angeles Lakers: Delon Wright (G - Utah)
Wright spent most of last season as one of the best kept secrets in college basketball, helping lead Utah to the Sweet 16 in a resurgent season for the Utes. Wright's flexibility allows him to run the point alongside Kobe Bryant, or play off the ball with Nick Young moving to the small forward spot if need be.

28) Boston Celtics: Arturas Gudaitis (F - Lithuania)
We fully expect Danny Ainge to trade out of this spot, but if he cannot find any takers, stashing Gudaitis, a 6-10 Lithuanian with a developing outside shot, will be the next best thing.

29) Brooklyn Nets: Terry Rozier (G - Louisville)
Billy King goes with the Rick Pitino point guard, whose defensive prowess and knack for scoring when necessary will endear him to both Net fans and Deron Williams critics, and with Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez still in Brooklyn, his expectation to produce will not be as high in the early going.

30) Golden State Warriors: Chris McCullough (F - Syracuse)
McCullough was a can't-miss prospect even midway through his freshman season, a long shot blocker who wreaked havoc on the defensive end before tearing his ACL. The Bronx native fits in well for the reigning champions, who still have Andrew Bogut and David Lee down low to help show him the ropes.