Caltech ends 26-year, 310-game league losing streak


Caltech’s no longer a loser.

The Division-III Beavers snapped a 310-game conference losing streak by beating Occidental in their season finale, 46-45. It was easily the longest such streak in college hoops.

Their last Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory before Tuesday was Jan. 23, 1985. That’s right, 26 years.

Ryan Elmquist scored the winning point, hitting one of two free throws with three seconds left. Occidental (12-12 overall, 6-7 in conference) missed a shot at the buzzer. As you’d expect, players and fans celebrated by rushing the court.

In 2007, Caltech ended a 207-game NCAA losing streak by beating Bard College of New York. The famed private research university has just 950 undergraduates and doesn’t give out athletic scholarships. But 31 alumni and faculty have won the Nobel Prize.

(For more on Caltech’s sporting woes, check out this December profile from the New York Times.)

“Tonight’s win is a testament to the hard work each member of this team, the alumni and the supporters have put into this program. I hope that everyone who has participated in Caltech men’s basketball is able to celebrate a little bit tonight,” coach Oliver Eslinger said on the school’s web site. “We still have goals and aspirations that we want to accomplish as a program and this win is another step toward meeting these objectives.”

Caltech ended its season 5-20 overall, which was its best record in 15 years. It went 0-15 last season. The last time it had a winning season? 1954.

The hero, Elmquist, finished with 23 points, including 12 of 15 from the free-throw line. According to ESPN, he’ll work at Google as a computer software engineer after the season. And he may have just helped reverse a losing trend at the school.

“We know what it’s like to lose,” Eslinger told ESPN. “There’s the philosophy, ‘Oh, you can learn a lot from losing.’ I don’t want to learn anything more from losing. I want to start winning.”

(Hat tip to College Basketball Nation Blog)

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?