College Hoops Team of the Week: St. Louis Billikens

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Team of the Week: St. Louis

The Billikens were the team that many picked to win the Atlantic 10 this season, but they didn’t exactly start their season out on the right foot. After losing three of their first six games, Jim Crews’ club watched a nine-game winning streak evaporate when they lost at Temple and then dropped a home game in OT to conference bottom-feeder Rhode Island. 1-2 wasn’t exactly the way St. Louis wanted to start in arguably the deepest conference in the country.

But they bounced back, picking up tough road games at Duquense and St. Bonaventure, before making a statement this week. It started with a beatdown of Butler, where the Billikens forced 17 first half turnovers and brought home a 17 point win over the No. 9 Bulldogs. Then on Saturday, St. Louis thoroughly embarrassed a good Dayton team, dispatching them with a 29 point win.

St. Louis is now just a half-game back — tied in the loss column — of first place VCU in the At-10.

Teams that deserve a shout out:

  • Air Force: The Falcons picked up a pair of wins at home this week, knocking off Fresno State and No. 22 San Diego State, to extend their winning streak to five games and move into a tie for second-place in the Mountain West standings. The win over SDSU was just the third time in 81 tries the Falcons have beaten a ranked team. Air Force has had a bit of a friendly schedule in league play; we’ll get a real sense of just how good this team is when they visit the Pit on Wednesday to take on first-place New Mexico.
  • Oklahoma State: The Cowboys picked up a pair of massive wins this week, beating Iowa State on a Marcus Smart bucket with three seconds left and following that up by knocking off Kansas at Kansas. How big of a win was that? It’s only the second time in the last 104 games that the Jayhawks have lost at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. The last time? The day after Thomas Robinson’s mother passed away.
  • Miami: The Hurricanes notched a pair of big wins on the road this week. They came-from-behind to beat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg and followed that up with a thrilling win at NC State. More importantly, the Hurricanes are now sitting at 8-0 in the ACC with a two-game lead on Duke and a three-game lead on everyone else.
  • Indiana: The Hoosiers picked up a pair of huge wins, blowing out Purdue on the road by 37 points and following that up with a win over No. 1 Michigan at home. That’s a big deal for Indiana because they took over a one-game lead in the Big Ten race, which gives them a bit of cushion with their tough, road-heavy schedule down the stretch.
  • Stanford: Stanford thrust themselves back into the conversation in the Pac-12 with a pair of wins over the Oregon schools this week, including a 24 point victory against the No. 10 Ducks. Most importantly, Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright, who haven’t hit a shot all season long, are now a combined 15-25 from three over the last three games.
  • Louisville: The Cardinals bounced back from their three game losing streak with a vengeance, beating Pitt at home on Big Monday and following that up with a fairly dominating win over Marquette on Sunday.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Report: NCAA allows Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale to compete on Dancing with the Stars

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After a memorable March Madness run that included two game-winning jumpers in the Final Four and an eventual national title, Notre Dame junior guard Arike Ogunbowale became a breakout national star.

Ogunbowale already appeared on Ellen while meeting her basketball idol, Kobe Bryant. Now, Ogunbowale will get the rare opportunity to appear on Dancing with the Stars — which the NCAA will allow even though Ogunbowale is still a rising senior who is scheduled to return to school next season.

Dancing with the Stars compensates its contestants and also has a prize for the winner. Under NCAA Bylaw 12.4.1, college athletes cannot be compensated based on their athletic abilities.

But the NCAA is arguing that Ogunbowale’s appearance on the show is “unrelated to her basketball abilities,” according to a statement they released regarding the decision. According to a report from Jacob Bogage of the Washington Post, the NCAA is also limiting Ogunbowale’s visibility for the show’s promotional tools.

From the Washington Post report:

The NCAA has placed restrictions on Ogunbowale that limit her involvement with the show and her potential to build her brand. She is not allowed to appear in promotional materials for the show, including commercials, according to the NCAA’s statement. She didn’t join other contestants during a group appearance on “Good Morning America” last week. Show handicappers have already wondered whether the NCAA’s limits will hurt her chances.

And the NCAA could turn down future requests by arguing that Ogunbowale is not endorsing “Dancing with the Stars” by appearing on the program, but instead is participating in a “personal growth experience” by learning how to ballroom dance, said Barbara Osborne, a professor of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina.

This is a slippery slope for the NCAA to take with this. Ogunbowale is, quite clearly, a famous basketball player. She’s on Dancing with the Stars because of her basketball abilities. The NCAA arguing anything else is just silly and embarrassing. The NCAA is also trying its best to uphold its argument about amateurism in the only way they know how.

But could this also could be a sign that the NCAA is perhaps open to the potential of allowing athletes to profit off of themselves in the future? The NCAA is currently handling a number of different court cases regarding amateurism, so it’s hard to say where all of this might go until the legal process starts to clear up.

Either way, this should be a fun experience for Ogunbowale while providing great national exposure for herself and women’s basketball. Ogunbowale might not be technically allowed to build her own brand during the show, but she’ll be gaining tons of new exposure for her basketball future — regardless of what the NCAA says in a statement.

Memphis center Karim Sameh Azab diagnosed with leukemia

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Memphis center Karim Sameh Azab announced on Saturday that he’s been battling leukemia lymphoma.

The 6-foot-11 big man from Egypt has been receiving medical treatment since the beginning of April as he took to Twitter to announce his current status.

Sameh Azab played in 15 games this season for the Tigers as he saw action for 84 total minutes. The reserve big man was a late addition in former head coach Tubby Smith’s first recruiting class at Memphis as he didn’t quality to play during his first season.

“Karim has my full support and the support of our whole team,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said in a statement earlier this month. “While we appreciate the support of the Tiger family in this matter, we would also like to protect the privacy of Karim and his family.”

South Dakota State’s Mike Daum declares for 2018 NBA Draft without an agent

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South Dakota State big man Mike Daum will enter the 2018 NBA Draft without an agent, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 redshirt junior has been a mid-major draft darling the past few seasons as Daum was one of the most productive players in the country last season. Putting up 23.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, Daum shot 46 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range during the season.

With his size and unique floor-spacing ability, Daum is going to be an interesting player to track during the NBA draft process. Teams are always looking for big men who can space the floor, and if Daum shoots well in workouts, he could wind up staying in the draft.

If Daum returns to South Dakota State, then he once again makes them a major NCAA tournament contender after the Jackrabbits won the Summit League last season.

Marquette lands Fordham grad transfer Joseph Chartouny

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Marquette pulled in a quality graduate transfer commitment on Friday as Fordham guard Joseph Chartouny pledged to the Golden Eagles.

The 6-foot-3 Chartouny was a three-year starter for the Rams as he should help offset the loss of guard Andrew Rowsey to graduation. While Chartouny isn’t nearly the perimeter threat that Rowsey was, he should be able to help significantly on the defensive end for Marquette. Chartouny put up 12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game last season as he was one of the more productive all-around players in the Atlantic 10.

One of the nation’s leaders in steals the past three seasons, Chartouny has much better size to play alongside Markus Howard in the Marquette backcourt than Rowsey (5-foot-11) had. Since Howard is also 5-foot-11, Chartouny can now guard the bigger and more athletic perimeter matchup as Marquette tries to improve its porous defense from last season.

Marquette still has an open scholarship for next season as they’ve been investigating other transfer options to bolster the roster. Returning most of last season’s roster, the expectation will be for the Golden Eagles to make it back to the NCAA tournament next season.

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.