Florida v Arizona

College Hoops Week in Review: Five Thoughts


Butler’s win will resonate: At face value alone, Butler’s win over Indiana on Saturday was huge. Ignoring the fact that the Bulldogs, you know, beat the No. 1 team in the country, that No. 1 team also happened to be an in-state rival that had begun promoting the idea that Butler was back in their role as the little brother. Those bragging rights won’t soon be forgotten.

But it’s also worth noting that the official announcement that the Big East’s Catholic 7 would be leaving the conference came during the first half of the game, and, as seemingly everyone is reporting, the Bulldogs are way up on the list of teams that group will be looking to bring into their new league. That’s quite a convincing argument for inclusion, isn’t it?

What does Saturday’s result say about Florida and Arizona?: Here’s the funny thing about sports: no one walked away from Arizona’s win on Saturday night against Florida thinking that the Wildcats were the better team. With the exception of collapses in the final minutes of both halves, Florida completely dominated Arizona. They controlled tempo, they kept Arizona from getting quality looks, and they executed their offense to perfection, routinely and calmly scoring at the end of a shot clock over and over again. I came away from that game thinking that Florida could win a national title, and that Arizona will be good enough to make it to the second weekend of the tournament if their big men continue to develop.

But Arizona won the game, which, for me, highlighted the one, potentially fatal flaw for this Florida team: the point guard spot. In critical moments, at the end of both halves, Florida completely lost the ability to handle the ball, the ability to run offense, the ability to break a press. They missed crucial free throws. They even looked nervous in those final seconds against Arizona’s pressure. That’s not a good sign, but it doesn’t change the fact that I still believe Florida is one of the five best teams in the country and Arizona isn’t.

What about the state of the Pac-12?: The fact that Arizona actually was able to come back and win this game is huge for the Pac-12. It simply cannot be understated how badly this team and this league needed a marquee win this season. The biggest reason that the Pac-12 managed just two NCAA tournament bids a season ago — and an NIT trip for regular season champion Washington — is that they did nothing or note in non-conference play. This year, the league has already strung together a couple handfuls of good wins, but nothing close to as noteworthy as beating a top five team. Arizona’s win brings credibility to their resume, which, in turn, will boost their opponent’s RPI every time they play a league game.

And the SEC?: The SEC had just an awful weekend. Georgia lost at home to Iona. Mississippi State lost to Loyola (IL). Texas A&M lost to Oklahoma. LSU got hammered by Boise State. Alabama was drubbed by VCU (at one point, the Crimson Tide went 17 possessions without scoring). Florida, who appears to be the only elite team in the conference this season, could have saved some face on Saturday night with the win, but they gave that away down the stretch. But hey, at least short-handed Tennessee picked up a win, right?

All of a sudden, the SEC, which once looked like it could have three Final Four contenders at the top of the conference, is looking incredibly ordinary.

Tough, old school coaches a thing of the past?: I’ve played for screamers before. It’s not really as bad as you might imagine, but it certainly isn’t enjoyable to be cursed at in incredibly high volumes in front of some of your best friends over and over and over. And with the advent of social media and the more-powerful-than-ever 24 hour news cycle, maybe we are nearing the end of the uber-intense basketball coach.

Bob Knight has been gone for nearly a decade. Billy Gillispie saw his career go up in flames over the way he treated his players. Mike Rice was suspended for three games and gave up a fifth of his salary over allegations that he has mistreated his players, including throwing basketballs at them. Frank Martin parted ways with Kansas State in part because the AD didn’t love his coaching style. And Bob Huggins’ West Virginia teams haven’t been nearly as good as you would expect over the last three seasons; the ‘Eers lost by 15 to Michigan on Saturday and did so without Aaric Murray. Maybe it’s time to learn a way to get through to kids without berating them?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

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?