Typically, when a revered coaching genius retires, his school flounders to recover. Especially when he retires shortly before the beginning of a season. UConn will have an easier time than most, because Jim Calhoun’s hand-picked successor was already in the fold, in the guise of former Husky standout Kevin Ollie, who was hired as an assistant coach in 2010. Ollie has no previous head coaching experience, but he has the example of Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg to point to if anyone doubts him early on.
So, fans were excited to welcome Ollie during UConn’s recent First Night festivities, but the passing of the torch needed one other participant to be official. It’s easy to forget that UConn’s basketball faithful never really got a chance to publicly say goodbye to Jim Calhoun, the architect of the program’s greatness. On Friday night, they got that chance.
Hartford Courant writer Dom Amore was live-tweeting from the event:
It all sounded very nice, very classy and very proper, until Amore dropped this bomb into his timeline:
Of course, he was talking about freshman phenom Omar Calhoun, who bested reigning champ Ryan Boatright to win the First Night dunk contest, but the moment’s frisson of disbelief I felt when reading that tweet, and the mental image it imparted, was epic.
And now I’ve passed that image on to you. That’s how much I love you, CBT nation.
Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.
On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.
One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.
As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).
And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.
While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.
And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.
St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.
Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.
St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.
The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?