The Saint Mary’s basketball team has grown considerably under Randy Bennett. The Gaels have qualified for the NCAA Tournament four times during Bennett’s 11-year stint as head coach.
However, multiple sources have confirmed with ESPN.com that Saint Mary’s has been under NCAA investigation this year, looking into possible recruiting violations.
According to ESPN’s Andy Katz the NCAA has declined to comment on the issue. He went on to add that it’s uncertain what Saint Mary’s is even under investigation for.
ESPN attempted to contact Bennett, athletic director, Mark Orr, director of media relations, Mike McAlpin. All of these calls went unanswered, except for McAlpin, who said he would look in to the matter, but hasn’t responded since last week, according to Katz.
Sources have also confirmed with ESPN.com that former assistant coach David Patrick was interviewed by the NCAA.
Patrick, now an assistant coach at LSU, abruptly left the Gaels in 2010 to become a scout for the Houston Rockets. Patrick, who was suspended for a year by the NBA for working out players during the lockout, helped recruit several Saint Mary’s players from Australia, notably guard Patty Mills.
Katz also noted that several WCC coaches stated Bennett was absent during the July recruiting periods. Bennett did have back surgery in June and when asked if Bennett was held out of recruiting or whether he was recovering from surgery, Saint Mary’s compliance officer, Stephanie Shrieve declined to comment, according to ESPN.
The Gaels finished 27-4 last season, before losing to Purdue in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne
Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.
After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.
Video credit: Wyoming Athletics
Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.
Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.
Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.
Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.
Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.
But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.