SMU Mississippi Basketball

Larry Brown cut four players at SMU, and the problem is … ?

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As he has a tendency to do when he gets in the right mood, Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com took a hatchet to SMU’s decision to hire Larry Brown over the weekend.

Doyel’s biggest issue is that Brown set foot on campus and immediately started thinning out the Mustang’s roster. Three rising-sophomore forwards were told that their scholarships were not going to be renewed. The same thing happened to Jeremiah Samarrippas, a rising junior that not only started at the point during his first two seasons with the Mustangs but was also a team captain.

As an isolated incident, I don’t have a problem with this decision.

Simply put, these four players got cut. It happens, in every sport and at every level once you get past the age where everyone is required to play the same amount. As sports get more competitive at a higher level, fewer people are going to be able to play. If you’re not good enough, you get cut.

It sucks. I know. I’ve been there. I’m sure a lot of you have as well. But this is Division I basketball, and Jeremiah Samirrippas and his three former teammates are big boys. They’ll be able to deal with the disappointment and continue his basketball career somewhere else. If you can earn a scholarship to SMU, you’ll be able to go to college for free at a lower level as well. And it’s not like this is going to derail an NBA career; Samarrippas was the best of the group and he averaged 6.9 points and 4.2 assists for a 13-19 team.

Honestly, I don’t think that Brown did anything that wrong. When a coach takes over a program, he wants to coach players that he believes will excel in his system. Those four didn’t fit into that vision. Again, it sucks but it happens. And if you want to argue the academics angle, well, Doyel said it best himself: “as if college basketball players go to school to major in something other than basketball.”

No, the injustice here isn’t the fact that Brown told a third of his roster to pack their bags.

The injustice is that he is allowed to while, at the same time, being able to a) leave SMU whenever he decides he is done coaching the Mustangs and b) tell any player that decides they don’t want to play for Brown where they can and cannot transfer to.

Brown’s not alone, either. Any coach in the country can tell any player on his roster that their scholarship won’t be renewed the next season. Much has been made about the record number of transfers at the Division I level the past couple of years, but have you ever stopped to think about just how many of them were the result of a coach cutting ties?

That’s why so many people have made such a fuss about the actions of Bo Ryan and Phil Martelli and why the AD’s at Tulsa and FIU have come under such fire.

It’s unfair that a player’s former school has such influence in determining where that kid (and yes, they are still kids) will continue his career.

But it’s downright egregious that they have that much influence while simultaneously being able to kick the kid to the curb if he doesn’t perform and take off for a better job when it comes along.

If coaches were forced to give players four- or five-year scholarships — if they couldn’t kick a player out of the program on a whim — would we be as upset about head coaches restricting transfer releases?

Auburn suspends leading scorer Canty indefinitely

Auburn guard Kareem Canty (1) screams in pain after being fouled during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
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Prior to Auburn’s game at Georgia Saturday evening, head coach Bruce Pearl announced that leading scorer and starting point guard Kareem Canty has been suspended indefinitely.

Canty’s currently averaging 18.3 points per game and his abilities as a scorer and distributor have been key for the Tigers offensively. When Canty returns to the court remains to be seen, with Pearl noting that Canty may be able to return before the end of the season.

“Kareem has had some strong moments for our team this season,” Pearl said. “He has demonstrated that at the highest level of competition, he can win his matchup.

“However, his effort and attitude have been extremely inconsistent, which led to actions and behavior that are unacceptable. He will step away from the team for a while and may return later in the season. He is suspended indefinitely.”

According to the release Cinmeon Bowers will move into the starting lineup for Auburn, which is now 9-13 overall and 3-7 in SEC play. Auburn’s lost five straight and eight of their last ten games after losing by ten at Georgia Saturday night.

Without him more minutes are available to freshman New Williams, who played 22 minutes against Georgia. Bryce Brown started and played 18 minutes, with Devin Waddell playing 12 minutes off the bench.

Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis go crazy, No. 20 Kentucky beats Florida by 19

Kentucky's Jamal Murray (23) shoots near Missouri's Ryan Rosburg during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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Jamal Murray scored a career-high 35 points and became the first Kentucky player to hit eight threes in a game since 2010.

Tyler Ulis had 18 points and 11 assists.

As a result, No. 20 Kentucky bounced back Tuesday’s loss to Tennessee — when the Wildcats blew a 21-point lead — as they blew out a good Florida team, 80-61. The final score doesn’t really do the beat down justice, either. Kentucky was up 24-5 seven minutes into the game. The Gators, who look like they may end up being seeded as high as the No. 6 line on Selection Sunday, never had a chance.

If Kentucky was trying to prove a point, they did. I’m not sure if Murray and Ulis make up the nation’s best back court in college basketball, but on Saturday, they looked like the best back court in the entire world. They were awesome.

So awesome, in fact, that they were responsible for 64 of Kentucky’s 80 points tonight.

And that’s where this win can be a bit concerning.

Look, the issue with Kentucky is that they don’t get near enough production out of their front court, and if the knee injury that kept Alex Poythress out of the lineup on Saturday ends up being at all serious, than UK’s most productive big will be out of commission. On Saturday, Kentucky’s front court — minus Derek Willis, who is more of a wing that’s been slotted at the four — finished with a grand total of 10 points, 15 boards and 12 fouls.

That issue isn’t going away just because Ulis and Murray played an unbelievable game against one of the nation’s top five defenses, according to KenPom.com. You don’t buy a house with termites just because you love the way that it’s furnished.

But what this performance shows you is what Kentucky’s ceiling is, what they are capable of on the night’s when their two stars play like stars.

If they get hot at the right time, they can beat anyone in March. Hell, this could be enough to carry them to the Elite 8, maybe further.

When those two can play that well in a season where there is no dominant team, you can’t really count anything out.

But it also means that Kentucky is capable of losing to anyone on any given night, and all it takes is one cold shooting night for Kentucky’s run in March to come to an early end.