Now’s when Nored’s name could be part of March lore

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Butler thrives because everyone fills a role. Shelvin Mack scores. Matt Howard rebounds, gets the put-back buckets. Shawn Vanzant runs the show. And so on.

Ronald Nored? He defends. It’s that simple.

“That’s my role and I want to be the best in my role that I can possibly be,” he said Sunday.

He’ll get a chance to show how good he can be Monday night when he’s the primary defender tasked to stopping Connecticut guard Kemba Walker – something nobody’s done in a month. During UConn’s five tournament wins, he’s scoring nearly 26 points a game and serving as the focal point for everything the Huskies do on offense.

But the other thing about Nored? He’s a confident, capable guy who doesn’t back down from any challenge. That includes Walker.

“Kemba makes it tough for you. The great thing about people is that they all have tendencies. Everyone has something that they are good at,” Nored said. “I am going to try my best to force him that way and relay that to everyone else because we will probably have some switches on him.”

Take note of the last part. Butler coach Brad Stevens noted that it’s foolish to have one player guard Walker. The UConn junior is too quick and too gifted for one defender. Nored, as Butler’s best on-ball defender, will be the main guy, but he’ll have help. Lots of it.

That’s typical, too. The Bulldogs don’t go anything as individuals, but as a unit. They’ll rotate, they’ll help defend and pressure when needed. The biggest challenge might be to not focus too much on Walker.

That’s where the Huskies’ other stars would come in.

“We have played teams that have singular stars, but this isn’t a team that has just a singular star,” Stevens said. “This is a team that has a lot of really good players and possibly a couple of pros around a for-sure pro.”

Twenty-six years ago, another Indiana-based player held a seemingly unstoppable scorer in check during an NCAA tournament game that forever cemented that player’s rep. Nored gets his chance Monday.

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?