Oakland expects big things from former Friar Mondy

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Oakland has been on a bit of a tear recently. For four seasons straight, the Golden Grizzlies have won 20 or more games, and they’ve produced some strong players and some upset wins along the way.

They may get lost in the wake of Wolters-mania this season, but the Golden Griz have as good a chance at winning the Summit auto-bid as ever. They get Travis Bader and Drew Valentine — last year’s second- and third-leading scorers, respectively — back, and will also get their first live-action look at Providence transfer Duke Mondy. According to the Oakland Press, Mondy caught fans’ attention in an exhibition win over Davenport of the NAIA, tossing an eagle-eyed crosscourt pass to Valentine for an easy lay-in.

“He reminds me a lot of (former Michigan guard) Darius Morris,” Greg Kampe told beat writer Paul Kampe (no relation). “With that kind of size, he can deliver that kind of pass.”

The Griz will miss graduated guard Reggie Hamilton, who led the team with 26.2 points, 5.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game, but the hope is that Mondy’s skill-set, which never really shone at Providence, will light up all areas of the scoreboard in the Summit League.

Greg Kampe says his latest find will need to realize where he is now and go strong to the hoop, however.

The veteran coach did have one critique for his new point guard, whom he has compared to Oakland great Johnathon Jones, who once led the NCAA in assists.

“He’s got to understand with his size, this isn’t the Big East, where he would shoot those wraparound jumpers. He doesn’t have to do that here. At 206 pounds, you don’t need those up-and-unders. He probably would have shot six more free throws if he had been strong with the ball instead of trying to flip ‘em in.”

Mondy was 6 of 8 from the free-throw line, scoring 13 points and dishing seven assists in Tuesday’s win over Davenport.

Even if Mondy takes some time to adjust to the style of play in the Summit, his defensive abilities should allow him to make an immediate impact. In his final season at Providence, Mondy averaged 2.1 steals per game in just under 30 minutes of play. If he turns those swipes into long, wide-open layups for his teammates, don’t be surprised to see Oakland playing for a league title once again.

(photo: Oakland Athletics)

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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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 cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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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?