Shabazz Napier, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick

Shabazz Napier, UConn’s closer

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UConn is currently on a three-game winning streak, which has improved their record to 5-3 in the Big East and has kept them within striking distance of first place in the conference.

The Huskies are just a game back of Marquette and Syracuse, which is quite an impressive achievement for a team that has to play Enosch Wolf for extended minutes in the middle after the departure of Andre Drummond, Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith this offseason.

The reason for the Huskies’ success is usually attributed to their back court of Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier, but there’s more to the story than that.

It’s not a secret that UConn doesn’t have anything to play for this season beyond a regular season title. They aren’t going to the Big East tournament. They aren’t going to the NCAA tournament. They are playing for pride, and they’re doing it well. UConn has been involved in four overtime games this season. One of those games went to double-overtime. They are 3-1 in those games, with the one loss involving a blown call by a referee.

This past week, UConn was taken to overtime by both Providence and South Florida. Shabazz Napier had 19 points in the extra sessions of those two games, building on a trend that has been developing this season. From UConn beat writer Kevin Duffy:

In 24:40 of overtime this year, Napier has 34 points on a remarkable 18-of-20 shooting from the free throw line. That’s a 40-minute average of 55.2 points per game. Wow.


Napier has averaged 6.75 points in the first half this season. In the second and overtime, he’s scoring 10.45. His totals: 130 points on 45-for-96 shooting from the floor in the first half; 213 points on 59-for-137 shooting for the rest of the game. It’s a reflection of Napier becoming more aggressive in crunch time.

It’s a shame that UConn is irrelevant nationally this season, because Napier — and Boatright, for that matter — is having a terrific year.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.