Baker brings down the house: Albany freshman steals show with slam

Albany freshman Wheeler Baker. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
Albany freshman Wheeler Baker. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

The Great Danes were flying high Wednesday night, KO-ing visiting NJIT 65-48. Freshman Wheeler Baker was straight soaring, bringing the house down with a highlight reel slam dunk in traffic en route to a team-high 15 points.

Before the season tipped-off, Albany head coach Will Brown stated that Baker was “going to throw down some highlight reel dunks; he’ll go up and dunk alley-oops in traffic, he’ll dunk right on people.”

It only took one game for Brown’s freshman combo-guard to make him a prophet.

Albany celebrated its home opener by unveiling it’s 2014 America East Tournament Champion and NCAA Tournament banners, before pasting NJIT in a game that wasn’t as close as its final score. Albany went into the half up 36-17 and opening up the bench a bit in the second half.

One game after nearly knocking off reigning Big East Tournament champion Providence College behind the usual heroics of Peter Hooley and some stellar play by JuCo transfers Evan Singletary and Ray Sanders, the Great Danes got contributions from seemingly their entire roster to coast to the win.

Sam Rowley scored 10 points to go with eight rebounds, sophomore Dallas Ennema added seven points in 16 minutes off the bench, and Mike Rowley pulled down six rebounds. Hooley added 10 points and six boards, and the S & S duo of Singletary and Sanders combined for 13 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals.

But the story of the night was Baker, who hit 6-of-10 shots from the floor, including 3-of-5 shots from downtown — way downtown. Baker alternated between pulling up and drilling NBA-range 3-pointers and attacking the rim with reckless abandon. Continue reading “Baker brings down the house: Albany freshman steals show with slam”

David Walker dunks all over Florida State as Northeastern downs the Seminoles

Northeastern guard David Walker followed up a career-high 23 points in the season opener with 22 points in the Huskies upset win over Florida State. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
Northeastern guard David Walker followed up a career-high 23 points in the season opener with 22 points in the Huskies upset win over Florida State. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

The Huskies thrilling win over FSU may have been just the second game of non-conference play, but the 76-73 win was a blueprint for the things Northeastern has to do to become the CAA champs they’re predicted to be.

New Big-3?

Lets start with the obvious. The resurgence of Quincy Ford and emergence of David Walker combined with big man Scott Eatherton are shaping a clear big-3 for coach Bill Coen. Plenty of other players had a significant impact on the game but this group led the way from tip-off to the buzzer. Eatherton had a nice follow-up to a average offensive performance against BU, scoring 16 points on 7 for 14 shooting and he did it going up against a much larger FSU frontcourt. Despite getting into early foul trouble, the big man was also consistent for NU.

Then there was David Walker, whose high-flying dunks made Zach LaVine look like Luke Walton. More impressive than his 45 points in the first two games of the season has been his confidence.

“My freshman year, I would kind of sit back, play my role and let Jon and Joel lead. Sophomore year, coach wanted me to be more aggressive but that was more of a transition year,” Walker, who had 22-points on 7 for 10 shooting said. “I’ve worked on my game a lot this summer.”

Then there’s Ford, who scared every Northeastern fan – including his family who was in attendance at the FSU game – when he stepped out of the game with what looked like a cramped hamstring. Ford had seven rebounds, four assists and 18 points. The red-shirt junior continues to get more comfortable on the court, scoring in a multitude of ways, whether it be in the post, a transition pull-up, off the dribble or from behind the arc. Continue reading “David Walker dunks all over Florida State as Northeastern downs the Seminoles”

Breaking down Manhattan’s lob play that forced overtime at UMass

Manhattan didn’t get the win, but it had the play of the game — and possibly the entire ESPN Tipoff Marathon.

Trailing UMass by two with a baseline inbounds play coming, Steve Masiello had time to draw something up as the officials decided to put 0.8 seconds on the clock.

Here’s what happened:

UMass knew Manhattan only had time for, at most, a catch and shoot. With Emmy Andujar inbounding the ball, the sharpshooting Shane Richards and the 6-foot-10 Ashton Pankey were the Minutemen’s biggest threats.

First, notice Tyler Wilson shift to the near corner. For some reason, UMass center Cady Lalanne follows him, leaving one less person to protect the rim. Aside: why was Lalanne guarding Wilson, a point guard who scores all his points at the rim or foul line? They must have been expecting Wilson to screen for Pankey, who was being guarded on the far block by Trey Davis.

Then, Richards, who had already burned UMass with three tightly contested treys, sets a back screen for Rich Williams. He slows down Jabarie Hinds just enough to give Williams a step advantage going down the lane. Richards was the perfect Jasper to set the pick because Derrick Gordon, his man, would never have thought to leave him leaking towards the three-point line.

Gordon also probably thought there was help behind him. No way the lane could be totally devoid of Minutemen.

But Davis followed Pankey, acting as a decoy, just far enough towards the right corner. Sufficient scouting on Manhattan would show Pankey doesn’t really have range beyond 12-15 feet, anyway, and he has a long release. Davis did not recognize that until it was too late. He couldn’t recover, and Williams, with a perfect pass from Andujar, skied for the alley-oop.

Credit UMass for rebounding with an overtime win, but that play was just brilliant.

#TBT — OBW Classic Clip: Albany’s Chris Wyatt dunks all over BU

In honor of “throwback Thursday” AKA TBT, OBW editor-in-chief will be delving into his video archive every Thursday to share classic One-Bid Wonders clips.

Perhaps I should call this “clips that remind me of my father,” because, ultimately, that’s what everything on website circles back to.

From a purely statistical standpoint, Chris Wyatt’s college career was pedestrian – perhaps even completely forgettable – in every category except one: He stayed.

During his playing days at Albany, which spanned from 2001 to 2005 and coincided with Will Brown’s early days at the helm, Wyatt’s was one of the lone constants on a revolving door roster. Suiting up next to at least 31 different teammates during his four years on the Great Danes, Wyatt watched more than a dozen players leave the Great Danes program and was the only incoming freshman in 2001 – and the only four-year recruit of previous head coach Scott Beeten – to survive for four seasons in the program.

Wyatt’s career averages of just 18.6 minutes, 3.7 points and 3.2 points over 104 games were a reflection of the constant pain – due to chronic knee, lower leg and foot injuries – and the program’s constant state of rebuilding that defined his time in the Capital Region.

But there were always flashes of athletic brilliance, like the two dunks posted above from the Great Danes 67-55 loss to regular season champion Boston University in 2004. At 6-foot-5 and a rock-hard 235 pounds of muscle, Wyatt was strong as an ox, nimble on his feet and an explosive athlete and exceptional dunker (one of the reasons he shot 50 percent from the floor for his career).

Wyatt never experienced a winning season in Albany, but he also never gave up and never stopped working during a time when Brown was struggling to simply field a roster, let alone lay the foundation for future success.

During Wyatt’s junior season the Great Danes went 5-23 and had the dubious honor, after starting a game at Hartford with just seven players in uniform, of finishing with just four players on the court.

One week later, Wyatt and the vastly outgunned, undermanned and overmatched Great Danes gave a Terriers squad that played an 11-man rotation, went 17-1 in conference play and won 23 games, with Wyatt providing two highlight-worthy slams, the first of which coming on a beautiful spin-move off a pick-and-roll, splitting Terriers forwards Rashad Bell and Jason Grochowalski (two of the leagues toughest and most athletic big men) for a thunderous slam. The second came when Wyatt followed a Jon Iati miss, soaring above BU’s vaunted front court to corral the rebound with one hand and, in one motion, slam it back through the hoop. Continue reading “#TBT — OBW Classic Clip: Albany’s Chris Wyatt dunks all over BU”

Video of the Day: The Air Up There

The One-Bid Wonders Video of the Day is a recurring segment that runs whenever OBW creator Sam Perkins has some down time and the free time to go through his America East video archives. Today’s video is a compilation of dunks and highlights of former Boston University guard Matt Turner (1999-2004). Turner is the subject of an upcoming Rufus Wrinklecap/One-Bid Wonders documentary entitled “Life after Love [of the Game].”

Matt Turner was the most explosive athlete that I have ever seen play in the America East. In all likelihood, he is the most physically gifted basketball player to ever suit up for the Terriers and most the athletic (as far as run and jump explosive ability) player to ever come through the conference.

I grew up watching the Lou Roe, Marcus Camby and John Calipari-led Refuse to Lose Minutemen of the 1990’s play against the best basketball teams in the country, and I had never before seen a player quite like Matt Turner. I don’t think I will ever see another like him again.

That may sound like hyperbole or exaggeration, it’s not: Turner was the most freakish of freak athletes.
Continue reading “Video of the Day: The Air Up There”

America East Video of the Day: Billy Collins slams it home

Billy Collins wore the Terriers’ scarlet and white for three seasons, from 2000 through 2003, earning First Team All-Conference honors as a junior in 2002 and Second Team honors as a senior the following season.

Collins career numbers, 10.3 points and 7 rebounds per game, are solid but hardly eye-popping, but they don’t tell half the story. Collins was the best player on the Terriers 2002 NCAA Tournament team, and (in the eyes of Sam Perkins) one of the top 15 America East players of the past decade.

Listed at 6’7” but much closer to 6’5”, he did it all on the court, playing the two-through-five positions (spending most of his time at small forward and shooting guard).

A high-flying athlete, he got off the ground in a hurry, attacking the hoop off the dribble while establishing himself as one of the best dunkers in the league (earning a spot on the OBW All-Decade All-Dunkers 2nd Team). He was a ferocious rebounder, finishing third in the conference in boards as a junior and fifth as a senior, despite spending much of his time at the small forward position.

Collins was a top-end defender, and a constant energy player. And boy could he ever shoot the rock. Collins hit 44 percent of his 3’s over the course of his career, and his 48.2 percent from three-point land during his junior season still stands as the Terriers single season record. Continue reading “America East Video of the Day: Billy Collins slams it home”

OBW Video of the Day: Nick Billings freshman year highlights

It’s a shame that the America East (and it’s member institutions) don’t archive their footage. From Austin Ganly’s mythical dunks, Matt Turner’s high-flying heroics, the Vermont basketball dynasty, and the legend of Nick Billings, a tremendous amount of amazing America East footage has been forever lost.

Over the past few years, I’ve devoted a great deal of effort towards trying to put together an archive of sorts: I’ve badgered every former player I know, contacted coaches, power conference opponents (who’s meticulous archives often stretch back half a century) and harassed the America East brass at their Cambridge offices. From VHS recordings a decade ago, to dusted off BETA tapes that the league found in previous long-forgotten drawers, to the current DVDs of game film that teams have been kind enough to share with me, I’ve been able to stock-pile quite the collection.

While I’m currently working on some pretty substantial projects with them (as well as the delayed relaunch of the “Top 100 America East Dunks” to coincide with video), I decided it would be fun to publish a “One-Bid Wonders AE Video of the Day,” whenever I’ve got the free-time.

This will be a recurring feature, pretty much whenever I can (or feel inclined). Who better to start with than the man, the myth, the legend, Nick Billings. Billings burst onto the scene as a freshmen, blocking an insane 3.81 shots in only 17.5 minutes per game. His 8.7 blocks per 40 minutes remains one of the highest single-season marks in NCAA history.

At over 7’1″ in his shoes, with tremendous athleticism and the ability to run the floor, Billings skyrocketed from unknown Alaskan in high school to bonafide NBA prospect by the end of his sophomore year. Knee problems and ongoing battles with his own inner-demons cost him a chance to play in the NBA (one of the sadder America East stories of the past decade), but there is no denying Billings talent. Fun loving and gregarious, he was a monster dunker and one of the most animated (and excitable) players to come through the league in some time. Here are a few clips from his freshman season, including a monster swat in his first minute of his first collegiate game, and a coast-to-coast dunk at North Carolina in the Bearcats 61-60 loss. Enjoy!