The Morning Mix

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With Hurricane Sandy making landfall late last night, today’s Morning Mix is going to be quick. Hope you all are safe.

– The John Groce era at Illinois got started off on the right path with a 79–47 exhibition victory over Lewis College

– Gonzaga dominated Northwest Nazarene 93-45, but learned that Kelly Olynk will miss the next three games due to a violation of university’s code of student conduct

– The Duke Blue Devils defeated Western Washington, the 2012 Division-II  National Champions, 105-87 on Friday. Freshman Rasheed Sulaimon had a strong showing, and senior forward Mason Plumlee scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds

– Wisconsin got some terrible news on Friday, as Josh Gasser, who was named starting point guard earlier in the week, tore his ACL in practice and will miss the entire 2012-2013 season. The loss of Gasser means that freshman phenom Sam Dekkar will be counted on to do much more in his freshman season

– Shabazz Muhammad, who is still waiting to hear from the NCAA on his eligibility, will miss 2-4 weeks because a shoulder injury he sustained in practice last week

– Specific accounts of the injury are scarce, but Southern Illinois’ Dantiel Daniels, a member of the MVC All-Freshman team a season ago, will be sidelined for a significant amount of time with a fairly serious injury. But again, specifics aren’t clear yet. Check back soon

– Southeast Missouri State was chosen to finish second in the Western Division of the highly competitive Ohio Valley Conference. But the Redhawks got some bad news this weekend, as 6-foot-6 forward Michael Porter will be sidelined for the next six weeks with a broken foot. With the addition of Belmont to the OVC and the improvement of teams like Tennessee State, the Redhawks cannot afford any more setbacks

– Is Jamari Taylor the next Thomas Robinson or does he just look like him?

– Make sure you read this Atlantic-10 preview from Ryan Fagan. The A-10 is going to be loaded this season, so it’s worth your time to study up

– Indiana got a huge commitment over the weekend from top-50 class of 2013 recruit Troy Williams. The 6-foot-7 forward from Oak Hill Academy is the No.32 ranked player in the class of 2013

– The Kentucky Wildcats are the overwhelming favorites to once again win the Southeastern Conference. Realistically, there are four teams that should be able to pose somewhat of a threat to the reigning national champions

– Kentucky and Florida State seem to be the two finalists for the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes, who just recently reclassified to the class of 2013. Run the Floor explains what landing Wiggins would do to each program

Western Carolina is a team you should watch for in the SoCon this season. The Catamounts return some important peices from last season, and will challenge Davidson for league supremecy

– Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams and C.J. Fair should probably just stick to their day jobs

Sun Belt approves new scheduling format

Sun Belt Conference
Sun Belt Conference
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With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.

And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.

Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.

Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.

Former Wichita State assistant returns as a consultant

Chris Jans, Gregg Marshall
Associated Press
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Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.

Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.

“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”

While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.