Larry Brown

Unexpected storylines in SMU-Hofstra Saturday afternoon on Long Island

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If you were to have taken a look at the college basketball schedule at the beginning of the season, find Dec. 1, and run down the slate of games, I doubt you would have batted an eye at Southern Methodist-Hofstra.

On its surface, there isn’t much there. SMU, coming off a 13-19 season, travels to Long Island to take on a mid-major who also struggled last year.

But developments over the past week have made for a few interesting storylines as the Mustangs get ready to tip off against the Pride Saturday afternoon.

For SMU, first-year coach Larry Brown has accomplished the unlikely: leading his team to a 7-1 start. We saw on the recruiting trail this summer that SMU is finding small ways to insert itself into the national conversation.

Before the 2013 stars Harrison twins, Andrew and Aaron, chose Kentucky, SMU found its way into the final three candidates for the players’ services, though considered a longshot. Much of that credit likely goes to Brown, who has helped to change the culture in his short time with the program.

The questions arose, though, as to whether he could translate some of that momentum into wins with the players he inherited. With a small sample size so far, Brown seems to be able to have a workable group.

As for Hofstra, the Pride finds itself in the news for something it would likely rather not. No “new coach optimism” here.

Instead, four players were arrested on burglary charges this week and subsequently suspended from the team. Coach Mo Cassara announced the suspensions of Shaquille Stokes, Dallas Anglin, Kentrell Washington, and Jimmy Hall after police reported that the thefts included items totaling close to $10,000.

So the question Saturday is, how will Hofstra respond after losing two of its top four leading scorers and without the depth on the bench that they previously had?

It might be a reason to tune in to what would have otherwise been a run-of-the-mill early December game.

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

UConn commit tears ACL for second time

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UConn commit Juwan Durham, a four-star big man in the Class of 2016, has torn the ACL in his right knee for the second time in seven months. The Florida native committed to the Huskies and head coach Kevin Ollie back in September. The 6-foot-9 forward is regarded as the No. 31 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016, so he can really be a force when he’s healthy.

In a report from’s Bob Putnam, UConn was notified of the injury immediately and there is no change in plans with the commitment. The Huskies also own commitments from four-star point guard Alterique Gilbert and three-star power forward Mamadou Diarra in the Class of 2016. Having Diarra, an active, rim-protecting presence, helps with Durham’s recovery, since he can provide some more front court depth.

If Durham rehabs back to full speed, UConn has a very talented power forward who was just hitting his stride in the Florida state playoffs last February. UConn has a nice class so far with this group, especially if Durham can recover, With a year to recover until next season, Durham can hopefully play during his freshman season in 2016.

VIDEO: Arizona State’s Torian Graham dunks over teammate

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Arizona State fans won’t get a chance to see Torian Graham take the floor this season, but he did sky over fellow teammates (and transfer) Shannon Evans on Friday night at the team’s Maroon and Gold Madness. The 6-foot-4 Graham is a former Buffalo commit — Evans also came from Buffalo — and both players will have to sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer regulations.

Graham hasn’t had a chance to get into a Division I game, but he’ll be able to play for the Sun Devils next season. For now, fans can look forward to Graham’s athleticism on the wing in pregame dunk routines.

A former top-100 prospect, Graham also pulled off this ridiculous move in the dunk contest.