News that Butler will join the A-10 brought headlines around the country. The Horizon League’s search for a new member is somewhat less compelling to many on the national scene, but there’s plenty of drama going on.
The Oakland Golden Grizzlies, currently of the Summit League, would like to take Butler’s place. Paul Kampe (no relation to Oakland coach Greg Kampe, as he always notes) of the Oakland Press has been following the saga, and has dug up some interesting facts about the history between the Golden Grizzlies and current Horizon members the Detroit Titans.
According to a May 10 article in the Press, the Horizon League contacted Oakland about joining as far back as 2002. At that time, Coach Kampe told reporters, Detroit blocked the move. To his credit, Brad Kinsman, Detroit’s AD at the time, admitted his part in the earlier brouhaha.
“The feeling back then was that it didn’t make sense to share this market with another school in the same conference,” Kinsman told a reporter. “Times have changed, coaches have changed, but I don’t know what the thinking is now.”
Oakland U. is, in fact, just 30 miles north of the Detroit Mercy campus. Then again, these days, a league like the Horizon needs as many strong programs as it can possibly get, andbasic cohesiveness in the service of continued existence may trump petty concerns about markets and sharing. Heck, with so many natural geographical rivalries being blown up by realignment, it might be kind of nice to get a new one nailed down. The perceived slight from 2002 could propel a nice amount of in-conference anomie if and when the Horizon does snap up the Golden Griz.
(This will be updated throughout the day.)
GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse 74, No. 25 Texas A&M 67
The Orange got 20 points from Michael Gbinije and 15 points and five assists from Trevor Cooney as they won the Battle 4 Atlantis title on Friday afternoon. We wrote on this game earlier. Are the Orange for real this year?
No. 10 Gonzaga 73, No. 17 UConn 70: Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis made some big plays down the stretch as the Bulldogs held on to win a game they led by as much as 21 in the second half. Kyle Wiltjer scored a team-best 17 points for Gonzaga, which finished third at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Rob Dauster wrote more about the Bulldogs and their second-half performance here.
Alabama 64, No. 20 Wichita State 60: Not only did the Shockers drop their second straight at the AdvoCare Invitational, but they also saw Anton Grady leave the game on a stretcher after being involved in a scary second-half collision. He was awake and alert shortly after leaving the court. While the Shockers’ losses to USC and Alabama don’t help them from an NCAA tournament standpoint, the bigger issue is the team’s health.
Quincy Ford, Northeastern: Not only did he score 24 points in the upset win over No. 15 Miami, but he hit the game-winning jumper, too. Video here.
Wichita State’s bigs: Five of them (Anton Grady, Zach Brown, Rashard Kelly, Bush Wakumota, Eric Hamilton) finished a combined 3-for-21 from the floor with 14 points and 14 fouls. Wakumota shot one of the worst threes you’ll ever see with Wichita State down 62-60 with 10 seconds left.
Grady suffered a scary neck injury late in the game, but early reports sound positive.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- Jamal Murray went for 21 points and three assists without a turnover at No. 1 Kentucky rolled over South Florida. The big question: How bad is Tyler Ulis’ elbow injury?
- Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart both had 13 points as No. 8 Villanova knocked off Georgia Tech to win the Preseason NIT, 69-52.
- No. 23 Xavier raced out of the gates against USC and led by as much as 32, going on to win 87-77 in Orlando. Trevon Bluiett led four Musketeers in double figures with 16 points and James Farr added 12 to go along with nine rebounds off the bench.
OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS
- Stanford finished third at the Preseason NIT with a 69-66 win over Arkansas, closing the game on a stunning 21-1 run. Rosco Allen scored eight of his career-high 25 points during that run, and Marcus Allen’s goal-tended layup with 2.6 seconds remaining gave the Cardinal the lead for good.
UNLV sophomore Goodluck Okonoboh is transferring out of the program, a source told NBCSports.com.
The 6-foot-10 center was the No. 31 recruit in the Class of 2014, but he never was able to find a place in the UNLV rotation. He averaged 2.9 blocks as a freshman, but is a career 34 percent free throw shooter that never proved he could be more than just an athlete.
With Ben Carter getting eligible and UNLV landing Stephen Zimmerman this season, Okonoboh’s minutes dried up. He played just 19 minutes total against UCLA and Indiana.