NCAA’s new ridiculous withdrawal deadline is official

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Uncertain about the NBA draft? Too bad. Starting next year, underclassmen have a matter of days to decide if they want to enter the NBA draft.

The NCAA’s board of directors took no action on proposal 2010-24, which moves the final day for underclassmen to declare for the draft to the day before the spring National Letter of Intent signing period. This year, that was April 12, barely a week after the national title.

Yeah, that’s plenty of time to decide on one’s future.

“I don’t know how it can necessarily help a player. It definitely helps the coaches,” Butler senior Matt Howard told the AP. “It’s hard for somebody like Coach (Brad) Stevens to have to go out now and recruit a combo guard like Shelvin. But for players, I just don’t see how this helps them.”

It doesn’t. It helps the coaches, who want to know if they need to replace any players who want to leave early. It also helps them set up tee times for April.

It’s ridiculous and unfair to the players. Offer the players guidance and expertise when it comes to making a crucial decision. Isn’t that what colleges are supposed to do?

The rule could be overridden, but that would just reinforce how often the NCAA insists on changing the thing. Those moves may be the only thing more ridiculous than the rule itself. Here’s a rundown from Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News:

College basketball’s approach to the NBA Draft has been, for nearly two decades, an embarrassment of regulation and re-regulation. The rules have changed more often than Madonna switches outfits during a two-hour concert. If the educated men and women who run the organization stopped for a moment to notice how frequently they’ve shifted their stance on how collegians cope with the NBA Draft, they would have to be embarrassed at their indecision.

In the mid-1990s, it was possible to enter the draft, be selected and still return to college basketball. Minnesota guard Voshon Lenard did just that. Later, the colleges allowed a player to enter the draft and return to college so long as he wasn’t selected, which is how center Randolph Morris wound up spending an extra year at Kentucky.

When players went through the draft process during the early part of the 2000s, they were forced to keep receipts for every ice cream cone to assure they hadn’t accepted any money from NBA teams. Then the rules changed to allow teams to pay for players’ expenses to attend workouts.

Get it together NCAA. Is that too much to ask?

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Duke knocks off No. 13 Louisville in first game of critical four-game stretch

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Grayson Allen scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half and Brandon Ingram added 18 points, 10 boards and four assists as Duke picked up a critical win over No. 13 Louisville in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Monday night, 72-65.

A call this a critical win for the Blue Devils because it kicks off what may be the most important two-week stretch of Duke’s schedule This weekend, the Blue Devils square off with No. 9 Virginia. Next Wednesday, they’re at the Dean Dome to take on No. 7 North Carolina. Four days after that, they head to the Bluegrass State to pay a visit to Louisville.

 

With the way that Duke has been struggling on the defensive end of the floor without Amile Jefferson, that’s a stretch that could derail Duke’s season; entering Monday, all four of those games were losable. But a four-game winning streak — or even going 3-1 in that stretch — could completely change the tenor of what has been a fairly disappointing year for the defending champs, and that’s before they get Jefferson back to 100 percent.

And the difference was defensively, at least in the first half.

I’ve written in this space a number of times about how opponents know what they’re going to get from Duke defensively. Coach K, traditionally, plays half court man-to-man defense, switching every exchange — ball-screen, off-ball pick or simply when two players run by one another — that doesn’t involve the center. In recent years, he’s played some zone in situations where he defense has struggled or, like this season, when he doesn’t have the depth to risk foul trouble. We’ve even seen some 2-2-1 pressure from him of late.

But on Monday night, Duke played straight man-to-man for much of the game, and in the first half, it seemed to fluster the Cardinals. They scored just 24 points in the first 20 minutes, and while Louisville did find a way to break Duke down defensively in the second half — they shot better than 55 percent from the floor after the break — but part of the reason Duke was able to win this game was the lead they built. After a three from Allen opened scoring in the second half, the Blue Devils were up by 14, and while Louisville made a run down the stretch, they could never get control of the game.

Duke is becoming appointment viewing for basketball nerds like me that pay too much attention to X’s-and-O’s to see what kind of wrinkle Coach K is going to put in to try and compensate defensively, so I’m not sure that this performance sticks. But it is worth noting that this was the first time in eight games the Blue Devils gave up less than 1.0 PPP, and the first time since Dec. 19th they did so against an NCAA tournament-caliber team.

As far as Louisville is concerned, you have to tip your hat to those kids. They played their hearts out and fought back from a big deficit in one of the toughest places in the country to play. They did all that three days after their school ripped their hearts out with an NCAA tournament ban for this season.

So good for them. You never know how a team is going to react to something like that, but the Cardinal players showed that they have some serious fight in them.

Iowa State’s starting center Jameel McKay remains suspended

Iowa State forward Jameel McKay celebrates on the court at the end of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 82-77. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Steve Prohm announced on Monday that starting center Jameel McKay will not be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Cyclones take on Texas Tech.

“He’ll practice today because I want him in practice,” Prohm said, “but game-wise, he’s suspended.”

McKay did not make the trip to Stillwater with the team on Saturday, where Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, 64-59. Prohm has not gotten into specifics regarding the cause of McKay’s suspension, but it’s reportedly an issue with the way he has been practicing. McKay is dealing with a nagging knee injury, which may play a role in the situation as well.

“My hope is he’ll be with us on Saturday,” Prohm said.