New NCAA rule could pay dividends for Bashir Mason and Wagner

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One rules change that has been praised by college basketball coaches is that they’re now allowed to work with their returning players.

Provided the players are enrolled in summer school, coaching staffs are allowed two hours of instruction per week with each player.

Not allowing coaches to work out their current players during the off-season made no sense, and it’s good that the NCAA saw the error in that and made the change.

It can be argued that those who benefit the most are programs that undergo head coaching changes, even if the new man in charge was simply promoted. That’s the case with new Wagner head coach Bashir Mason.

Mason decided on three 45-minute workouts each week as the best way to use the time allotted. One session is purely a shooting exercise, with the goal the same for every player: To get up 210 shots.

“We chart them and keep stats on makes and misses,” Mason said.

The second 45-minute segment is a heavy dose of ball-handling and 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 drills.

“It’s about competition and improving skills,” said Mason, the youngest head coach in Division I basketball.

The third workout is Mason’s favorite.

“We get all 13 guys together and work them out like a regular practice,” he said. “It gives me a chance to get more comfortable at actually coaching the entire team.”

The Seahawks went 25-6 last season under Dan Hurley, who moved on to take over at Rhode Island shortly after the end of the season.

But while Mason is a familiar voice in the ears of the players, being so from a new position means that there are adjustments to be made by both the players and the coaches.

Three of Wagner’s top five scorers from last season are due back, led by junior guards Kenneth Ortiz (8.1 ppg, 4.3 apg) and Latif Rivers (14.6 ppg) and senior forward Jonathon Williams (13.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg).

Defending NEC champion LIU Brooklyn returns a wealth of talent as well, but with the returnees at Mason’s disposal Wagner will certainly be a worthy challenger for the top spot.

Would that be the case if Mason didn’t have this off-season time to work with his players? Possibly, but it’s certainly a benefit to the first-year head coach that he does have this luxury.

Photo credit: Wagner Athletics

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

AUDIO: Rick Pitino discusses allegations, future at Louisville

Rick Pitino
Associated Press
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Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.

The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.

“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.

“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.

“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”

Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.