NCAA Basketball Tournament -  Western Kentucky v Kentucky

Not all transfer restrictions are due to vengeful AD’s and coaches

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For the past couple of weeks, I’ve railed against the way the NCAA’s transfer rule is currently set up.

Over and over and over and over again. Frankly, it’s tiresome. I write the same thing every single time. “School A and/or Coach B abused their power by preventing Player C from transferring out of the program in yet another example of what’s wrong with the NCAA.”

Today’s will be differently. Slightly.

On Wednesday afternoon, Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com published a column that tried to explain exactly why some of these players have their transfer denied. And in the case of Southern Illinois’Treg Setty and Western Kentucky’s Vinny Zollo, the answer is simple: their grades aren’t good enough. Setty has a GPA hovering around a 2.5, while Zollo checks in with a 2.4. All things considered, those aren’t terrible grades to get. Both players are freshmen, and maintaining a B- average during your first semester in college when you are a scholarship basketball player is far from awful. It keeps them eligible to play, which, in the end, is all that really matters for a first-year player that still believes they are on the fast-track to NBA superstardom.

“It’s detrimental to me,” Zollo told CBSSports.com. “I can talk to other schools, but those restrictions make it difficult for anyone to take me right now. I don’t think it’s fair and don’t understand why they are doing it. I’m eligible by the NCAA to transfer and should be fine.”

The problem that Zollo doesn’t understand is that neither player has a GPA of 2.6, and that last couple of tenths of a point are so important.

According to the APR, if a player leaves the program for any reason — including a transfer — with a GPA below 2.6, the program gets docked a point. The way the APR is measured is complicated (a very good breakdown of what got UConn in trouble can be found here, and that should give you a clear understanding of how the APR is measured), but the gist is that if a program averages a deduction of about four points every year, they will end up finding themselves below the requirement of a four-year rolling average of an APR of 930.

What program wants to risk that?

Missing out on the postseason can be devastating. Look at what’s happening to UConn. The Huskies have been arguably the best program in the country over past 13 seasons, winning three national titles, advancing to a fourth Final Four, sending countless players to the NBA and continually hanging banners in the always-tough Big East. But with a postseason ban looming for the 2012-2013 season, the UConn program is on the brink of collapsing. Granted, there are mitigating factors — Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb may have entered the draft regardless, Jim Calhoun’s health problems didn’t change — that exacerbate the issue, but the bottom line is that next season could end up setting the UConn program back a decade.

A 2.6 GPA is not a terribly difficult goal to achieve, and the result of allowing a player to transfer out of the program with less than a 2.6 is detrimental to the program as a whole.

I don’t blame the AD’s in either of these cases one bit for denying the player’s release for a transfer, especially since both schools have made it very clear to their players they will be released if they get a 2.6. Zollo even got it in writing.

The fact that schools are allowed to hold players hostage by restricting where they can transfer and remain on scholarship is unfair and a terrible rule that needs to be changed. But the APR isn’t exactly a perfect rule, either, and if losing a player to a transfer means that the school in question will get dinged on their APR score, than I think it is within reason to allow the school’s to protect their own interests.

“It puts you in a precarious situation,” Mario Moccia, SIU’s athletic director, said. “All we’re saying is get a 2.6. If we just let them go, kids aren’t going to get the grades.”

This isn’t a secret. It’s not difficult to figure any of this out. Googling is easy. Asking your high school or college coaching staff is even easier. And 2.6 GPA’s are not that difficult to get, especially for a student-athlete.

Allowing schools to have control over where their players can transfer is unfair. But enabling players to walk away and leave their old program on the verge of a postseason ban while the school can only stand and watch is also unfair.

In this case, blame the system. Don’t blame Southern Illinois or Western Kentucky for protecting their programs.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell suspended

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26:  Sindarius Thornwell #0 of the South Carolina Gamecocks drives to the basket defended by Tyler Lydon #20 of the Syracuse Orange in the second half during the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center on November 26, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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South Carolina senior guard Sindarius Thornwell has been suspended indefinitely due to a violation of athletic department policy, the school announced on Sunday.

Thornwell is averaging 18.7 points, 6.7 boards and 4.1 assists for the Gamecocks, who are undefeated and sitting at No. 20 nationally. Thornwell is the reigning SEC Player of the Week.

South Carolina plays FIU in Columbia at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Melo Trimble’s heroics get him a shout-out from Wale in a song

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26:  Melo Trimble #2 of the Maryland Terrapins celebrates after hitting the game winning shot as they defeated the Kansas State Wildcats 69-68 during the championship game of the Barclays Center Classic at Barclays Center on November 26, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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For the fourth time in the first three weeks of the college basketball season, Melo Trimble won a game for Maryland.

His two free throws in the final ten seconds gave the Terps a come-from-behind, 71-70 win over Oklahoma State in College Park, and the win not only was the sixth time this season that the Terps have won a game decided by six points or less, it improved Trimble’s record in those games to 26-5.

26-5!

That’s an insane statistic, one that should allow Maryland fans to truly appreciate just how valuable their junior point guard is.

At least one Maryland fan does. Rapper Wale, who hails from Maryland, just outside DC, made sure to name-drop his favorite Terp in a verse in a song he released on Saturday night:

And you better believe that Trimble is aware of it:

"My therapist terrible , I'm uh Terp Melo Trimbling" @wale

A photo posted by Melo Trimble (@olem__) on

Rick Pitino on Grand Canyon: ‘The toughest crowd I’ve ever faced’

Rick Pitino
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Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said after his No. 14 Cardinals struggled to put away a tough Grand Canyon team on the road had some kind – and hyperbolic – words to say about the atmosphere.

“This, in college basketball in my 40 plus year, was the toughest crowd I’ve ever faced,” he said.

Umm, but Rick, you’ve coached in the Big East and the ACC! This was tougher than any of those crowds?

“Whether we go to Duke, Kentucky, nothing was as tough as that crowd tonight,” he said.

Well, now.

That seems like a bit much, but to be fair, the atmosphere there was, shall we say, lit:

POSTERIZED: Charlotte’s Najee Garvin nearly jumpers over defender

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This is what you don’t try to take charges.

Providence beats No. 21 Rhode Island 63-60

RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 19:  Head coach Ed Cooley of the Providence Friars  reacts in the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 19, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley knew the Rams were in for a tough one against Providence, which had won the matchup of cross-state rivals six straight times.

He didn’t see this coming, though.

Kyron Cartwright, who had made four 3-pointers all season, hit four of five from beyond the arc in the first half. The Providence point guard finished with 19 points and eight assists to lead the Friars to a 63-60 victory over No. 21 Rhode Island on Saturday.

“That’s sports, and that’s the type of thing that makes coaches go gray and lose their hair,” Hurley said after his team lost for the third time in four games. “Four 3-pointers in seven games and he made four today – all in the first half.”

Rodney Bullock scored 17 points for the Friars (6-2). Cartwright had 15 in the first half and Jalen Lindsey scored nine of his 13 points in the second, five during a 7-0 run that erased a seven-point deficit.

“My teammates were telling me, `You need to take those shots to open up the defense,”‘ Cartwright said. “(And) we don’t shoot the ball to not make it.”

Hassan Martin had 14 points and 17 rebounds for Rhode Island (5-3), which lost at unranked Valparaiso and Providence a week after falling to No. 1 Duke. E.C. Matthews scored nine points and went 1 for 8 from 3-point range, airballing a 3 with 2 seconds left with a chance for the Rams to tie it.

“Games like this might help us down the stretch,” Martin said. `’So you just tell everybody to keep their head up.”

The Rams led 47-40 with 12:15 left when Cartwright’s arm appeared to catch Christion Thompson in the left eye. Thompson went to the court, flailing his arms in the air looking for a call, but the teams played on until Lindsey hit a 3-pointer to make it a four-point game at 11:00.

Lindsey’s free throws brought the Friars within two points, and Ryan Fazekas scored on a fast-break goaltending call to tie it. From there, there were three more ties and kept the game within one possession until Lindsey hit a fallaway jumper with 43 seconds left to give Providence a 59-55 lead.

“We beat a tournament team today,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said.

POLL IMPLICATONS

It will be difficult for Rhode Island to stay in The Associated Press Top 25 after its stumbles.

Hurley said he isn’t concerned.

The goal at the beginning of the season was to win the Atlantic 10 and play in the NCAA Tournament.

That’s all still in play.

“We expect to have a long and great season. Nothing’s changed for us,” he said. “We lost two tough road games in a long season.”

BULLOCK’S BOUNCE-BACK

Bullock scored a career-high 36 points against New Hampshire on Wednesday, but he missed all three shots from the field in the first half and had only three points on six free throws at the break.

Cooley told him not to worry about the shooting and to try to make something happen with rebounding or defense.

“Somebody coming of a great scoring game like he did there’s going to be a lot of attention on him,” Cooley said. “I thought he showed some definite grit in the second half.”

TIP-INS

Rhode Island: Martin hit all three of his 3-point attempts in the first half. … Martin surpassed the 1,000-point milestone against Valparaiso on Tuesday. … The Rams have lost nine straight to Big East teams.

Providence: The Friars lead the all-time series 73-56, including a buzzer-beating victory last year in Kingston. … They are 1-1 against ranked teams this season, having lost to then-No. 7 Virginia on Nov. 26.

UP NEXT

Rhode Island: Hosts Old Dominion on Tuesday.

Providence: Hosts Brown on Tuesday.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.