The Morning Mix

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Last night was fun, wasn’t it? What’s that? You didn’t watch college hoops all night like I did? You totally missed out. But fear not, because The Morning Mix is here to get you caught up to speed on all the happenings.

But I’m warning you, last night was crazy. Or as the kids say these days “cray”.

Yeah, “ish” got “cray” last night.

Lets hit the links.

Thursday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 22 Michigan State @ Iowa
7:00 p.m. – Miami (Fl.) @ North Carolina
7:00 p.m. – Old Dominion @ George Mason (NBC Sports Network)
7:00 p.m. – Temple @ Xavier
8:00 p.m. – Southeast Missouri State @ Belmont
9:00 p.m. – No. 4 Arizona @ Oregon
9:00 p.m. – UMass @ Saint Louis
9:30 p.m. – UCLA @ Utah
10:00 p.m. – Santa Clara @ Loyola Marymount
11:00 p.m. – Saint Mary’s @ No. 9 Gonzaga
11:30 p.m. – Arizona State @ Oregon State
 
 
Read of the Day:
I love behind-the-scenes journal entries, and Rush the Court’s Danny Connor’s got an exclusive look at a day in the life of a Drexel Dragon. Sure the team is struggling, but this look at the daily grind is a great way to start your day. (Rush The Court)

Andy Glockner drops his first “Bubble Watch” of the season. I don’t always read bracket predictions, but when I do, I read “Bubble Watch”. (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Top Stories:
Late Night Snacks: Wednesday proves why conference play is unmatched: Last night may have been the best night of hoops we’ve seen all season. All the scores and summaries can be found in “Late Night Snacks

CBT Podcast: Fighting for attention in the Big East, Pac-12, Big-Ten and A-10: With college football season coming to an end, Rob Dauster and I run through some of the major conferences and discuss which teams on the outside looking in might be able to break out through.

Boise State hands Wyoming their first loss on a buzzer-beater: Think about this. The Broncos defeated an undefeated, top-25 team on the road all while missing four player due to suspension. The win came on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jeff Elloriaga. This is the same Boise State team that went into Omaha and knocked off a ranked Creighton team in November.

Words cannot describe Jamaal Franklin’s dunk against Fresno State (VIDEO): Early in the second half of a close ball game, Jamaal Franklin finished a fast break by tossing himself an ally-oop from behind the 3-point line. Normal human beings can’t do that. Normal human beings wouldn’t even think of doing that. Jamaal Franklin clearly isn’t normal.

No. 8 Minnesota rolls through No. 12 Illinois, 84-67: The Gophers went into Champaign and smacked the Illini around, winning 84-67 and never looking back after a 17-5 first half run gave them a 28-21 lead. In a loaded Big-Ten, Minnesota has cemented themselves as the clear-cut third best team in the league behind Michigan and Indiana. Not too shabby for a team that was un-ranked in the preseason.

No. 25 New Mexico holds off No. 24 UNLV in tough Mountain West opener:Behind 23 points and eight rebounds from big man Alex Kirk, No. 25 New Mexico fought off a late push from No. 24 UNLV to win, 65-60 in Albuquerque. New Mexico had trouble sealing the game with free throws down the stretch, but Tony Snell sunk two with eight seconds remaining finally put the game out of reach.

Ben McLemore saves Kansas in thrilling overtime win against Iowa State: Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore provided the Jayhawks with their signature moment of the season, a 3-pointer off the glass to tie the game at the end of regulation against Iowa State. The Jayhawks struggled at home against the Cyclones, but were given a boost from the dynamic scoring guard.

Michigan State’s Branden Dawson denies that he punched Purdue’s Travis Carroll: You will have to watch the footage to determine for yourself, but Michigan State sophomore Branden Dawson insists that he did not punch Purdue’s Travis Carroll in the midsection after going for a rebound during their game on Saturday.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– North Carolina’s Leslie McDonald is questionable for their game tonight against Miami because of a knee injury (The Sporting News)

– Duke’s Ryan Kelly injured his right foot on Tuesday against Clemson and no timetable has been set for his return, but he will definitely miss the Blue Devils” showdown with North Carolina State this weekend. (Duke Report)

– Laurence Bowers sprained the MCL in his right knee on Tuesday against Alabama and he will be forced to miss the Tigers’ next two games. (The Missourian)

– Illinois State head coach Dan Muller has suspended his second leading scorer Tyler Brown for “conduct detrimental to the program”. (Bloomington Pantagraph)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– A new team has emerged in the Ohio Valley Conference as a potential contender. The Colonels of Eastern Kentucky sent a strong message with a dominant win on the road at reigning league champions Murray State. (OVC Ball)

– Maryland’s loss to Florida State last night, their first since November 9th should be a reminder that the Terps are yet to officially arrive. (D1scourse.com)

– Dana O’Neil’s title really says it best: New league, same Butler. (ESPN)

– Great stuff from C.J. Moore regarding McLemore’s Miracle, Mario’s Miracle and the breakdown of the 3-point play that has saved Bill Self’s butt on more than one occasion. (Need I Say Moore)

– The ending to the Kansas/Iowa State game is reigniting the debate about fouling when you are up three. (Ames Tribune)

– North Carolina faces Miami tonight in a pivotal game for both teams. Tar Heels’ guard Reggie Bullock called a “players only” meeting on Monday to make sure everyone is on the same page. (ESPN Tarheel Blog)

– Now that the college hoops season is halfway done, Gary Parrish looks ahead to the final three months of play. (Eye on College Basketball)

– A good-read from our very-own David Harten on how Quinn Cook has gone from non-factor to x-factor. (Backboard Chronicles)

– Wake Forest defeated Virginia last night, which re-raises the question about Jeff Bzdelik’s success at Wake Forest. Is he nearing his end or just getting started? (College ChalkTalk)
 
 
Video(s) of the Night:
Ben McLemore banked in a 3-pointer with under five seconds left to send the game into overtime against Iowa State. The Jayhawks prevailed in the extra frame. (The Big Lead)


 
 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
This is just bizarre. Trevor Mbakwe successfully draws the charge, yet Brandon Paul’s dunk counted. I don’t get it. (The Mock Session)

 
 
Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or want something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

Did Nike plagiarize JellyFam, Minnesota freshman Isaiah Washington to sell kid shoes?

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The JellyFam movement started as nothing more than a way for a little New York City point guard to add some flair to his game, a way to stunt on an opponent when you can’t dunk on that opponent, and has grown into something no one, not even Isaiah Washington, could have imagined.

Washington is that little point guard, and a few years ago, he and a couple of his hooping buddies coined the jelly, which, at its root, is essentially nothing more than a finger roll. Where the magic happens is when that finger comes after weaving around an opponent or finishing the layup despite the presence of a shot-blocker at the rim, with a sprinkle of NYC Point God showmanship. Think Kyrie Irving’s layup package if they happened at Rucker Park with an And1 Mixtape crew filming the game:

What JellyFam has turned into is a full-blown, grassroots movement powered by social media.

And while Washington is the face of the movement, it’s not just him. A half-dozen other talented New York hoopers are members of JellyFam, but Washington is the star. He’s a celebrity on the city’s hoops scene, drawing massive crowds wherever he goes and garnering more than 335,000 followers on Instagram despite having just 27 posts on the site. It’s not as if Washington is a sure-fire NBA All-Star, either. He’s a 6-foot-1, 160 pound point guard that doesn’t crack the top 50 on any of the major recruiting services and is headed to Minnesota to play his college ball.

His popularity is tied directly to the movement that he created.

It’s a shame, however, that he cannot profit off of it, not if he wants to remain an amateur that is eligible to play college basketball.

That doesn’t stop corporations from profiting off of what he has created.

Today, Nike released a new colorway for the kid size PG1s, Paul George’s signature shoe, that has been dubbed the ‘JellyFam PG1’. It’s being sold for $90 on their website right now. This is what it looks like:

What you’ll notice, in addition to purple and turquoise colors that are a staple in the JellyFam gear that Washington wears, is the straps. On the right foot, it says “score in bunches”. On the left foot, you’ll see a design that looks like basketballs on a grapevine … or the grape emoji, with basketballs instead of grapes.

Washington and the rest of the members of JellyFam have adopted the grape emoji as their own when posting on social media.

According to a Nike spokesperson, these shoes were “inspired by Paul George’s love for fresh grapes.”

What Nike is doing here is wrong.

They are trying to capitalize on a movement created by athletes that are not allowed to monetize something they built simply because of the NCAA’s amateurism rules. They are stealing the work created by these young men simply because they can. At worst, this is plagiarism.

Washington did not respond to messages from NBC Sports, but on Friday morning he tweeted, “It’s crazy bro they know I can’t so they just take advantage.” That tweet has since been deleted.

If you read this space, you know my feelings on the NCAA and amateurism. It’s wrong and it needs to be changed, but that’s another column for another day that’s been written thousands of times.

This column is much simpler: An international, multibillion-dollar company like Nike is already profiting off of the unpaid labor of amateur athletes.

Stealing their art, their work, their movement to try and sell sneakers to kids for $90 is despicable.

And I’m not sure there’s anything else to add.

Joel Berry II’s touching encounter with grieving fan

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When you are the starting point guard at North Carolina and a preseason All-American coming off of a season where your team won the national title while you won the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award, getting recognized in Chapel Hill comes with the territory.

Joel Berry II should expect it when he goes out to eat.

What Berry wasn’t expecting, however, was that simply being recognized could profoundly affect the life of one of his fans.

Berry shared the story with UNC’s in-house media arm, GoHeels.com. He was at breakfast with his girlfriend when he noticed two women eyeballing him. As it turns out, those two women were the mothers of two boys that had been best friends. One of the boys had moved to Oregon and, in February, died in an car accident. His name was Rob McKiver, and Berry was his favorite player on his favorite team.

MORE: Joel Berry II, fake tattoos and a family’s loving gesture

From GoHeels.com:

That’s why Carol Freedman and Myra McVicker sat in their booth that May morning with tears trickling down their cheeks. Freedman ultimately sent Berry a heartfelt email. She relayed the story of the McVicker family and then explained why the two women had been so closely watching Berry. “Your presence that Saturday, that morning when we could have met anywhere, at any other day or time, reaffirms our belief that those loved ones who leave this Earth are still with us if we look and listen,” she wrote. “In death, Rob let his mother know that his love for her is stronger than ever.”

The email deeply touched Berry, who wrote back that same day.

“This is by far the greatest email I have ever received,” Berry wrote. “I got goosebumps reading this letter and had to share it with my mom and dad. When telling my mom, she cried with joy knowing her son had impacted someone in that way. Each morning, I always tell myself, ‘Something good is going to happen today,’ and as I read that email, I said to myself, ‘This is more than something good. This is a life changer and I will always remember this.'”

I wrote about Berry and his family after UNC won the national title. I found him to be a likeable young man and someone who is very easy to root for, unless, of course, you live in Durham.

I guess I’m not the only one that feels that way.

Tommy Hawkins, first black all-american at Notre Dame, dead at 80 years old

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tommy Hawkins, the first black basketball player to earn All-America honors at Notre Dame and who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during a 10-year NBA career, died Wednesday. He was 80.

Hawkins died in his sleep at home in Malibu, son Kevin told The Associated Press. He had been in good health and had lay down to rest, his oldest son said.

Hawkins graduated from Notre Dame in 1959 after playing three years on the basketball team. He had 1,318 career rebounds for the longest-standing record in Fighting Irish history. He was named to the school’s All-Century team in 2004 and inducted into its Ring of Honor in 2015. He led the Irish to a 44-13 record over his last two seasons, including an Elite Eight berth in the 1958 NCAA Tournament.

“He loved Notre Dame with every fiber of his being,” said Kevin Hawkins, who followed in his father’s footsteps and played basketball for the Irish before graduating in 1981. “He said Notre Dame did so much for him and grew him up to become the man that he would become.”

Hawkins became close with Notre Dame president Theodore Hesburgh, who served from 1952-87. Hesburgh was supportive when Hawkins was dating a white woman from nearby Saint Mary’s College and they were turned away from a South Bend restaurant that wouldn’t allow the interracial couple to dine, Kevin Hawkins said.

“That act led Father Hesburgh to ban Notre Dame (students) from eating there until my father got a public apology,” Kevin Hawkins said by phone from his home in South Bend. “Notre Dame walked the talk when you talk about civil rights. That meant the world to him.”

Kevin Hawkins said his father’s basketball teammate and future NFL Hall of Famer Paul Hornung led Hawkins back to the restaurant to secure the apology.

Kevin Hawkins said he spoke to his father almost daily and they had recently discussed last weekend’s civil unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Hawkins was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers with the third pick in the first round of the 1959 NBA draft. He played one season in Minnesota before moving with the team to Los Angeles. He went on to play six seasons for the Lakers, averaging 9.0 points and 5.7 rebounds in 454 games.

The 6-foot-5 forward also played for the Cincinnati Royals from 1962-66. Hawkins recorded 6,672 points and 4,607 rebounds in his pro career.

“He was and will always be part of the Lakers family,” team CEO and majority owner Jeanie Buss said. “His baritone voice and easy demeanor made him a favorite of the fans and media, as well as everyone who had the honor of calling him a friend.”

Hawkins’ influence continued beyond his playing days. As a player representative, he had a key role in establishing the first collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union and the NBA.

Born Thomas Jerome Hawkins on Dec. 22, 1936, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he moved to Chicago with his mother and aunt as a child. He starred at the city’s Parker High, now Robeson High, before being recruited by Notre Dame.

Kevin Hawkins recalled his father as a man with interests that ranged from poetry to jazz to sports. He self-published a book of poetry and Hawkins was in the midst of writing a memoir on his basketball career when he died.

“My father was a person who didn’t want to be defined as a jock or an ex-player,” Kevin Hawkins said. “He was an eclectic man. He had stories about everything from Notre Dame to the NBA to broadcasting.”

Hawkins enjoyed friendships with Alabama football coach Bear Bryant; UCLA basketball coach John Wooden; Southern California football coach John McKay; and artist LeRoy Neiman.

“You think about a man who grew up in the projects of Chicago that had done all these things in his life,” Kevin Hawkins said. “He called himself a cosmic functionary. That was his big deal. It made us all cringe, but he just loved it. He was a man of the world and a man of the people.”

Hawkins’ gregarious personality was on full display as master of ceremonies for the John R. Wooden Award presentation for over 30 years before he passed on his MC duties in 2011. He was co-national chairman of the award that honors the nation’s top male and female college basketball players.

Hawkins was hired in 1987 by then-Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley to be vice president of communications and he worked for the team until 2004.

“In life we are fortunate to know many people and Tommy was one person I always looked forward to seeing and being with,” said O’Malley, who sold the team in 1998. “He did an extraordinary job for the Dodgers as vice president, and his friendship will be missed by his family and many admirers.”

The Dodgers had a moment of silence for Hawkins before their game against the White Sox on Wednesday night.

Before joining the Dodgers, Hawkins worked in radio and television in Southern California, including stints with KNBC-TV and KABC radio.

He is survived by his second wife, Layla, and their daughter Neda; his first wife, Dori, and their children Kevin, Karel, Traci and David; seven grandchildren; and a great grandchild.

The family will likely hold a public memorial at a future date, Kevin Hawkins said.

Brad Underwood pokes fun at his version of ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’

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On Thursday afternoon, Brad Underwood, the new head coach of Illinois, was invited to Wrigley Field to throw out the first pitch and sing ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’ during the seventh inning stretch.

While the ceremonial first pitch went well, his rendition of the ballpark classic did not go as smoothly.

Underwood was at least able to poke fun at his vocals following his performance.

“I’d rather coach naked than sing in front of 40,000,” Underwood said afterward. “There’s a reason my wife won’t let me sing in church.”

Underwood took over Illinois in mid-March following a one-year stint at Oklahoma State. He had previously led Stephen F. Austin to three NCAA Tournament appearances in as many seasons.

 

AAC plan men’s basketball tourney at new Texas arena in ’20

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The American Athletic Conference will hold its men’s basketball tournament in a new arena in North Texas in 2020.

AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco announced Wednesday that Dickies Arena in Fort Worth has been selected to host the tournament for three years, starting in March 2020. That is only four months after the facility is scheduled to open.

On the same day of a groundbreaking ceremony for the 14,000-seat arena last April, the NCAA announced that first- and second-round games of the 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament would be held there. The NCAA women’s gymnastics championships are scheduled there from 2020-22.

The closest AAC school to the new arena is SMU, with its campus in Dallas about 40 miles away.

Orlando will host the 2018 AAC tournament, which moves to Memphis in 2019.