The Morning Mix

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What a weekend.

Five overtimes, half-court buzzer-beaters, more overtime, Miami Heat-approved off-the-backboard dunks, bizarre finishes, and even more overtime.

The only thing the weekend lacked was consistency. We’re just inside five weeks away from Selection Sunday, and I can think of roughly 15 teams that could win the National Championship and about 45 teams that could lose it.

Let’s hit the links.

Monday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 24 Marquette @ No. 20 Georgetown
7:00 p.m. – Old Dominion @ Delaware (NBC Sports Network)
8:00 p.m. – TCU @ Oklahoma
9:00 p.m. – No. 13 Kansas State @ No. 5 Kansas
 
 
Read of the Day:
Greg Bishop of the New York Times wrote a tremendous profile piece on the trials and tribulations of ESPN analyst and former-Naismith Player of the Year Jay Williams. After being drafted by Chicago with the No.2 draft pick in 2002, Williams suffered a career-ending leg injury in a motorcycle accident. Even you Duke-haters will have difficulty rooting against Williams after reading this brilliant story. READ THIS. Seriously, this is the best thing you will read all week. (New York Times)

Read of the Day:
Eamonn Brennan was at the Louisville-Notre Dame five overtime thriller. His take is as good as they come. Read it. (ESPN)
 
 
Top Stories:
Victor Oladipo’s importance shows as No. 1 Indiana rolls over No. 10 Ohio State: The junior guard struggled on Thursday during the Hoosiers buzzer-beating loss at Illinois. But on Sunday and entirely different Oladipo showed up at Ohio State. He scored 26 points on 8-of-10 shooting and was the engine behind Indiana’s offensive attack, as the Hoosiers cruised to an impressive 81-68 win.

Garrick Sherman emerges for 1st time in Big East play to lead Notre Dame in 5 OTs: The Michigan State-transfer did not play a single minute in regulation, but came on and scored 17 points and 6 rebounds and was the driving force behind the Irish’s dramatic 5OT win over Louisville.

Return of Syracuse’s James Southerland changes national picture: With the return of their best shooter from an academic suspension, Syracuse is once again a legitimate contender for the National Championship.

Could Miami take over No. 1 spot in the AP poll after win over UNC? With four top-10 teams losing this week, a long with another dominant performance from the Hurricanes, could Miami take over the No. 1 spot when the new rankings are released later today?

VIDEO: Ben Brust thrusts Wisconsin into B1G title contention: Ben Brust hit two huge shots, one being a half-court buzzer-beater to send the game in to overtime, as Wisconsin got back in to the Big-Ten title discussion with a win over Michigan.

Don’t dismiss Virginia’s NCAA tournament hopes just yet: A week after suffering an ugly loss to Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers earned a quality road victory against Maryland, and are still in the hunt for an at-large bid.

No. 21 Missouri makes a much-needed statement vs. Ole Miss: The Missouri Tigers got a much-needed victory this weekend as they rolled over Ole Miss at home. The Tigers still haven’t won a true road game, but a win against a credible opponent is what they needed, and they got it, despite an ugly altercation towards the end of the game.

Bizarre officiating allows Khalif Wyatt, Temple to escape with road win over Dayton: Saturday finished with a five overtime thriller but began with a bizarre final seven seconds of the game. Temple escaped thanks to a big shot from Khalif Wyatt, but also some luck and some odd officiating.

 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Texas’ Myck Kabongo will return to the court for the first time this season on Wednesday when the Longhorns face Iowa State.Kabongo had been serving a NCAA suspension for receiving impermissible benefits. (Sporting News)

– Charlotte guard JT Thompson just can’t catch a break. The Virginia Tech-transfer missed two seasons in Blacksburg because of torn ACLs. On Wednesday against Temple, he tore his right ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. Nobody deserves knees like that. (Pickin’ Splinters)

– Florida forward Erik Murphy left the Gator’s 82-58 win over Mississippi State with an ankle sprain on Saturday. The Gators can ill afford to lose another member of their front court. Late last week it was announced that forward Will Yuguete will miss the rest of the season due to knee surgery. (Alligator Army)

– Jacksonville State head coach James Green has been suspended by the OVC for one game after receiving two technical fouls and an ejection during his team’s loss to Tennessee Tech on Saturday. (ESPN)

– San Jose State’s top scorer James Kinney has been suspended for the remainder of the season. He has sat out the last eight games for the Spartans, all of them losses. (Oakland Tribune)

– On Saturday Mississippi State suspended their most experienced guard Jalen Steele for violating team rules. Things have gone from bad to worse in Starkville. (Clarion-Ledger)

– Memphis junior Antonio Barton injured his foot in the first minute of the Tigers’ road victory over Southern Mississippi on Saturday. He will get X-rays today but early reports indicate that his foot is likely broken. This would be a substantial loss for a Memphis team that has been gelling of late and dominating Conference-USA play. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

 
 
Observations & Insight:
– The Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball team continues to cope with the loss of assistant coach Monica Quan, who was murdered by former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, who remains at-large. (Sporting News)

– St. Bonaventure’s may have earned the best road win of the season this past weekend, and it’s not because of what happened on the court. (The Dagger)

– NC-State’s Scott Wood, one of the nation’s premiere 3-pointer shooters, hit a game-winning 3-pointer against Clemson to avoid another embarrassing upset for the Wolfpack. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Montana beat North Dakota 78-58 on Saturday for their 28th consecutive conference win, a new Big Sky record. This is a team you need to watch for come March. (Big Sky BBall)

– Fox Sports is interested in the TV rights for the Catholic-7, and has been for a long time. (VU Hoops)

– Mike DeCourcy looks ahead at the top games and match-ups of the upcoming week. (Sporting News)

– Seth Davis recaps a wild week in his latest installment of “Fast Break”. (Sports Illustrated)

– Dana O’Neil on the magnificent job Jim Larranaga is doing with the Miami Hurricanes. Coach of the Year for certain. (ESPN)

– More discussion on why Miami should be the No. 1 team in the country this week. (Wilmington Star News)

– Old Dominion nearly pulled the upset of the weekend against CAA-leading Northeastern. it would have been their second straight victory following the firing of head coach Blaine Taylor. The search for a new head coach is about to get underway and is a high-profile gig for a sharp up-and-commer. (Virginian-Pilot)

– Aaron Craft is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country, but his offensive skills are still somewhat undeveloped. Can a guy like him find a spot in the NBA? (Land-Grant Holy Land)

– John Gasaway dissects some of the nation’s most underutilized players. (ESPN Insider)

Odds & Ends:
– Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, decked out in goofy attire as usual, were in attendance as the MiamI Hurricanes dunked all over North Carolina en route to a 87-61 victory. (The Dagger)

– A solid “Where are they now?” on former Bradley star Patrick O’Bryant. (Peoria Journal-Star)

– The Cameron Crazies lost a bunch of street cred last week, but C’mon, a terrorist organization? This is just silly. (The Blue Zone)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Butler was in the nation’s capital this weekend and escapes with a 59-56 win over George Washington. But before the game, the Butler mascots, Blue II and Blue III aka Trip, met with their bulldog brethren, Georgetown’s Jack the Bulldog and, Jack Jr. aka J.J. If this isn’t reason enough for Butler to join the Catholic-7, I don’t know what is.

source:
 
 
Video of the Day:
A Notre Dame student made a halfcourt shot on ESPN Gameday and won $18,000. Rece Davis got excited. (The Big Lead)

Video of the Day:
The Wisconsin Badgers celebrated their victory over Michigan by dancing to Ke$ha. Of course they did.

Video of the Day:
Tom Izzo is confused. (H/T @WorldofIsaac)


 
 
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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.