The Morning Mix

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Today’s Morning Mix is rather light. We want you to save up you energy for tomorrow, which looks like the most fully loaded day of hoops we’ve seen all season.

Oh, and you can take tonight off. There are only three games on tonight. We got you covered.

Lets hit the links.

Friday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Stony Brook @ Vermont
7:00 p.m. – Jacksonville @ North Florida
7:00 p.m. – Fairfield @ Iona
Read of the Day:
Former-Virginia Tech forward Allen Chaney was away from the game for 44 months thanks to viral myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, but he’s now getting a second shot at hoops at High Point, and making the most of it. Ryan Fagan has the story. Read it. (The Sporting News)
Top Stories:
No. 10 Florida holds Elston Turner to four points, beats Texas A&M: Four days after going into Lexington and earning a win against Kentucky, Texas A&M was set to host a beat up Florida team with a chance to really make a statement to the folks that put together bubble projections. Unfortunately for the Aggies, Elston Turner scored 37 points less that he did on Saturday and the Gators rolled over Texas A&M with “Johnny Football” in attendance.

No. 5 Michigan holds on to win at No. 9 Minnesota, 83-75: m Hardaway Jr. led Michigan with 21 points and Trey Burke added 18 points and nine assists as the Wolverines opened up an 18-point lead and withstood a strong Gophers comeback to earn the bounce-back on the road at the Barn.

10 tidbits to know: Great coaching in the state of Maryland: NBC Sports Talk’s College Hoops Insider, Vin Parise, is back with his weekly look at ten interesting tidbits. This week he dishes on the coaching success taking place in “The Old Line State”, and an interesting non-conference game taking place this weekend.

Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee looking to leave Sun Belt early? Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee are reportedly negotiating with the Sun Belt Conference to leave after the current academic year instead of waiting until 2014 according to Dan Wolken of USA Today. The two programs will join the reconfigured Conference USA, which will lose four of its members to the Big East Conference at the end of the 2012-13 academic year.

Frank Haith’s lawyer speaks about potential NCAA infractions: The Missouri head coach is still tangled up in the mess that is the Nevin Shapiro scandal at Miami, and with the notice of allegations on the way, his lawyers have issued a statement filled with lawyer-speak.

Report: James Southerland eligibility issue centers around term paper: According to Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard the current eligibility issue may center around the writing of a term paper. Specifically, whether or not a tutor wrote part of Southerland’s term paper.

Hoops Housekeeping
– Chris Webber’s ban from being associated with Michigan will end in May and the university is currently discussing how to handle issues surrounding the Fab-5. (Detroit News)

– San Diego State guard Xavier Thames tweaked his back in practice yesterday and his status for the Wyoming game this weekend is questionable. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

– R.J. Williams returned from his suspension last night as Loyola (Md.) handled Marist at home 72-58. (D1scourse)

– UConn guard Shabazz Napier is dealing with a shoulder injury but hopes to be able to play against Pittsburgh this weekend. (New Haven Register)

– Seton Hall landed a commitment from 2013 shooting guard Jerron Wilbut. (South Orange Juice)

– Central Florida junior Isaiah Sykes returned to practice on Thursday for the first time since injuring his ankle last weekend. He hopes to be able to play this weekend against Houston. (Orlando Sentinel)
Observations & Insight:
– Valparaiso snapped Detroit’s 17-game home winning streak thanks to 31 points from Kevin Van Wijk. The Crusaders trailed by 18 at the half, but scored 57 points in the second half in order to win the rematch of last season’s Horizon League Championship game. (Detroit Free-Press)

– Bradley head coach Geno Ford was in attendance for the Wednesday night game between Chicago high schools Simeon and Morgan Park, in which a man was shot and killed following the game. (Peoria Journal-Star)

– A lot of people were hesitant about Illinois’ early season surge, and they can now pat themselves on the back. The Illini dropped their third straight with a lethargic loss to Northwestern last night. (State Journal-Register)

– With the conference realignment impacting the Sun Belt Conference, here is a look at some of the facilities of potential Members. (App State Nation)

– Andy Glockner provides his take on the conference power rankings. I too agree that the Mountain West is third best. (Sports Illustrated)

– A history lesson about win-less teams and when they usually get their first win of the season. (Eye on College Basketball)

– The Big-Ten is usually the conference people think about when an ugly, low-scoring game is on. But this season, the ACC seems to be the posterboy for scoring deficiency. (Tech Hoops)
Picture of the Day:
As if his team’s performance wasn’t bad enough, an Illinois fan got ejected from Assembly Hall last night. The Illini lost to Northwestern last night in pathetic fashion.

source: AP

Dunk: of the Day:
Glenn Robinson III had himself a big game last night against Michigan. He scored 20 points and threw down a 360 dunk on a fast break. Personally, I’m not a big fan of 360s. First, they aren’t real 360s because the rotation starts before they leave the ground. Second, it just doesn’t look as pretty as a poster-dunk or wind-mill jam. But the people sure do like them.

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)

Another offseason of NBA talk begins for stunned Kentucky

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky coach John Calipari will take a few days before having a series of offseason meetings with his young team about their futures after an earlier-than-expected exit from the NCAA Tournament.

Calipari said he isn’t sure whether many of his talented freshmen and sophomores might return next season, or declare for the NBA draft.

“Until I sit down with all the guys, talk and see where they are with things and where their families are, I have no idea,” Calipari said.

They’re conversations Calipari knew were upcoming, just not this soon.

The fifth-seeded Wildcats could not take advantage of a clearer path to the Final Four paved by early round upsets of the South Region’s top four seeds. Kentucky fell 61-58 to No. 9 seed Kansas State in a Thursday night regional semifinal in Atlanta.

The disappointing season-ending defeat in which the Wildcats struggled to make shots typified the season for Calipari’s youngest group since his 2009 arrival in Lexington.

Kentucky (26-11) began the season ranked fifth in the Top 25 before dropping and eventually falling out. An up-and-down final month included four consecutive losses, the longest skid in Calipari’s nine-year tenure with the Wildcats.

They responded by playing some of their best basketball, winning four of their final five regular season games and rolling to a fourth consecutive Southeastern Conference Tournament championship as the No. 4 seed.

Kentucky’s quick improvement stoked hopes of a deep NCAA Tournament run and perhaps playing for a ninth national championship next weekend in San Antonio, Texas. That expectation will remain as long as Calipari continues recruiting highly touted prospects.

Despite the early tournament exit Calipari said he took satisfaction in getting the Wildcats to play their best in the postseason.

“Individually and collectively, this was a rewarding year for me,” Calipari said. “I wish it could have ended in another week, but for me to see how individual players got better, for me to see how this team came together, for me to see (forward) Jarred (Vanderbilt) in, Jarred out, all the stuff that went on with injuries, they hung in there and played a bunch of freshmen. I thought they really performed.”

Calipari now moves on to offseason discussions to see which freshmen return and to what extent he must retool — again.

Kevin Knox, Kentucky’s leading scorer at 15.6 points per game, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are projected as first-round NBA draft choices and possible lottery selections. Forward PJ Washington has also generated first-round consideration.

Hamidou Diallo — a redshirt freshman guard who nearly entered last year’s draft pool despite not playing at Kentucky — improved his prospects in the tournament and has been mentioned as a first-round possibility. Jarred Vanderbilt made his Kentucky debut in January after missing 17 games with a left foot injury and showed promise as a rebounder, only to sustain an ankle injury that sidelined him for the postseason.

Sophomores Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones improved but could return along with guard Quade Green and forward Nick Richards. Freshman guard Jemarl Baker recently began working out after having left knee surgery last fall. Sophomore forward Tai Wynyard played sporadically before being suspended for the second half of the season.

As he routinely does, Calipari will encourage his entire roster to work out with NBA clubs to explore their options. Then the coach will explore his options.

Dan Hurley calls coaching UConn a dream and destination job

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STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Dan Hurley says he has landed at his dream coaching destination.

Hurley was introduced Friday as the University of Connecticut’s 19th men’s basketball coach, replacing Kevin Ollie, who was fired earlier this month amid an NCAA investigation and after a second consecutive losing season.

The 45-year-old Hurley, who left Rhode Island after six years and two straight NCAA Tournament appearances, has agreed to a six-year incentive-laced deal. He will have a base salary of $400,000 but will make at least $2.75 million in his first season, with supplemental income from media fees, speaking appearances and other perks. He could make up to $3.5 million in the contract’s final year.

He also has a chance to earn up to another $1 million a year for reaching certain athletic and academic goals.

But Hurley said the decision to come to UConn was not about money. It was about the opportunity to take the helm of a “storied program” that has won four national championships over the past 20 years.

“It’s a place that I always hoped I’d have a chance to coach and it’s like a dream come true,” he said.

Hurley, who played against the Huskies at Seton Hall in the 1990s, regaled the media with stories of being schooled on the court by the likes of Ray Allen and Chris Smith. Hurley said he modeled his coaching style in large part after UConn’s former Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun, and plans to bring back that hard-nosed “championship culture.”

“For me, that centers around being the hardest working, hardest playing team in the country,” he said. “That’s our goal from when you see us opening night in November. The product you see on the court, there’s not going to be a more connected team. There’s not going to be a harder playing team. There’s not going to be a team in the country that is more committed to winning.”

Hurley said he shared that vision earlier Friday in a meeting with UConn’s players. He said he hopes to have most of them back next season, telling them they can leave behind a much different legacy than they have now.

The Huskies went 14-18 this past season and 16-17 in 2016-17 after going 30 years without a losing season.

Junior guard Jalen Adams said he hasn’t made a final decision about his future, but was impressed with Hurley and happy with the hire.

“I know a lot of guys at URI and all of those guys rave about him, talk about how he’s a great guy and a great coach and he pushes you to the limits,” Adams said. “I think that will be great for me personally and I think it will be even better for our whole team. I think our team just needs to be pushed and needs someone who will demand them to be a champion.”

David Benedict, UConn’s athletic director, said there was never a question of whether the school would have the resources to hire a top head coach, and said it did not have to raise additional money from donors to fund Hurley’s contract.

He said there was a brief conversation with Hurley about the NCAA investigation, but it never became a roadblock to the hire. Hurley has the right, under the deal, to extend his contract by an additional year if the school receives sanctions such as a reduction of scholarships.

Benedict declined to discuss Ollie’s decision to appeal his firing “with cause,” which could impact whether UConn will have to pay more than $10 million left on the former coach’s contract.

“Obviously, we wouldn’t have done something that we didn’t feel was within our right to do,” Benedict said.

Former Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore, who was a longtime assistant of Calhoun’s at UConn and was on Hurley’s staff at Rhode Island is expected to join Hurley in Storrs. Kevin Freeman, UConn’s director of basketball administration, was the only member of Ollie’s staff to attend the news conference.

Hurley said he plans to fill out his staff with a diverse group of coaches who can help him recruit in the mid-Atlantic region.

Hurley is the son of Hall of Fame New Jersey high school coach Bob Hurley Sr. and the brother of Arizona State coach Bob Hurley. He said his last name has always been a recruiting asset in the Northeast.

“Coaches, families trust us with their kids because of the legacy my father has left as a Hall of Famer, but also as a community person who stands for the right things,” Hurley said. “I think nationally with the brand and our name, we could do a lot of good things.”

LaSalle parts ways with longtime head coach Dr. John Giannini

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La Salle announced on Friday that they are parting ways with head coach John Giannini.

Giannini had been the head coach of the program for 14 seasons, amassing a record of 212-226. Before taking over at La Salle, he spent seven seasons as the head coach at Rowan and eight seasons coaching at Maine.

“Today Bill Bradshaw and I mutually agreed that La Salle University could benefit from a new voice in leading the program,” said Dr. Giannini. “It is difficult to admit this but I have given every effort possible for success and I have received nothing but support and encouragement from Bill and President Hanycz. Greater things may be accomplished for this storied program and great university with the approach of a new coach. I am forever grateful, especially to my loyal staff and dedicated student-athletes. I look forward to my next challenge and La Salle’s future success.”

Kentucky clarifies ‘false reports’ they did not shake Kansas State hands after loss

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After Kansas State knocked off Kentucky in the Sweet 16, the purple Wildcats alleged that the blue Wildcats did not shake their hands after the game.

“They didn’t shake our hands,” Kansas State junior guard Amaad Wainright told ESPN last night. “It’s sorry.”

“They know what they did.”

Kentucky bristled at the allegations.

“They were turned and celebrating, so I walked off,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “There was no disrespect for anything. It’s just that they were celebrating, and I was happy for them.”

“My team’s not like that. There’s no disrespect in any way. They beat us. They deserved to win the game.”

NCAA amends rule to allow Isaac Haas to play

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BOSTON — The NCAA has changed their interpretation of the rule that kept Isaac Haas out of the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Haas broke his elbow in Purdue’s first round win over Cal St.-Fullerton, but he was not allowed to play in a second round game against Butler because his brace did not meet NCAA standards.

So they changed those standards.

“With ample time this week to review the intent of the playing rule, the committee decided to provide a more contemporary interpretation, while keeping health and safety for all players the highest priority,” said Gavitt. “Technology has improved materials used in braces, so now there will be more flexibility in applying the rule as long as the brace is fully covered and padded. Isaac and other players in similar circumstances should be able to play, as long as the brace is safe for all.”

Sources have told NBC Sports that, despite Haas’ lobbying to get onto the court, he is not expected to play on Friday night. If he does, it will be in a very limited capacity.

“He didn’t practice the last two days,” Painter said on Thursday, “and when you don’t practice, you don’t play.”

“I don’t see him playing until he can practice and show me he can shoot a right-handed free throw and get a rebound with two hands.”