Ryan Arcidiacono

Villanova freshman Ryan Arcidiacono comes up big in overtime win over Purdue

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Just looking at Villanova freshman Ryan Arcidiacono, he looks like the kid who’s always picked first in your Saturday rec league.

He’s young, still with that youthful freshman face that stands out amongst his older teammates, packed with raw talent, a dash of flash, and a confidence beyond his years.

As a true freshman, Arcidiacono has more or less been handed the reins of the program on the court, the starting point guard for a team that is trying to compensate for the early departure of last year’s leading scorer at that position, Maalik Wayns.

“It’s fun coaching him. Ryan is another really high IQ guy. It’s really fun,” said coach Jay Wright. “When you know a guy who knows the game and studies the game, that’s great.”

But not only is Arcidiacono walking into the starting job with a Big East program, he didn’t play his senior season at Neshaminy (Pa.) because of a back injury.

“We went out and took two transfers because I wasn’t really sure he could play,” said Wright. “I’m amazed at what he’s doing. Not basketball wise, but physically. His timing is there.”

In just his second collegiate game, Arcidiacono went for 25 points and six assists in a win over Marshall. He started out hot against Purdue with 10 points in the first half, but then cooled off in the second half. He then picked up later in the second half and overtime, finishing with 18 points and six assists. He did, though, turn the ball over seven times.

This is the up-and-down that Wright and the Wildcats are working through as Arcidiacono settles into his role. At times, glimpses of a player who could flourish in the program, at others hitting some freshman bumps in the road.

“There are some bad spots,” said Wright. “Real good experienced teams play real good forty minutes. We’re not there yet, but they’re going to be a lot better at the end of the year.”

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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?