It looks like Nerlens Noel understands John Calipari’s vision at Kentucky


If there’s one thing we ought to credit Nerlens Noel with at this, the earliest point of his Kentucky career, it’s that he knows what he is walking into with the Wildcats.

He’ll be the centerpiece of Volume IV of John Calipari’s experiment in youth, and, along with that, he recognizes the types of questions that will be floated around all season.

The most prominent of those? The length of his college career.

“I definitely won’t go in there thinking about one-and-done,” Noel told the Charlotte Observer. “The only thing I need to do is go in there and think about getting better and doing what I have to do for my team to win games and get to a national championship.”

Noel will have to deflect as many questions like that as he will have to block shots next season for the Wildcats, and the fact that he seems to know how to handle them is promising for the focus and chemistry that Kentucky will want to build in a run to repeat as national champions.

Call it the cynic in me, but it is almost a foregone conclusion that, even before Noel dons the Kentucky blue for the first time, he will be set on heading to the NBA after one season.

But the fact that he understands the way Calipari builds his teams, especially this 2011-12 Wildcats squad, seems to shatter the so-called “me culture” of high-major athletes.

Five Kentucky underclassmen are headed to the 2012 NBA draft, but that national championship team played differently than some rag-tag collection of some of the most talented young players in the country.

It was about “buying in” and playing defense, though of course, it didn’t hurt that they were supremely talented.

It appears Noel is moving in the direction to continue to build on that kind of foundation. Though a small sample size, it looks promising, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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?