The Morning Mix

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Friday’s schedule may consist of just 11 games but there are some solid contests to check out, most notably No. 15 Georgetown visiting Cincinnati. The Hoyas can move into first place in the Big East with a win, while a victory for the Bearcats would strengthen their NCAA tournament credentials. Two schools separated by ten miles meet in Riverdale, with Iona taking on a Manhattan squad that’s played some good basketball of late. And there’s also the America East showdown between Vermont and Stony Brook, with the Seawolves looking to return the favor after they were on the receiving end of a beating at Vermont last month.

Let’s hit the links.

Friday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Pennsylvania at Harvard
7:00 p.m. – Iona at Manhattan (ESPNU)
7:00 p.m. – Vermont at Stony Brook (ESPN3)
7:00 p.m. – North Florida at Jacksonville (ESPN3)
9:00 p.m. – No. 15 Georgetown at Cincinnati (ESPN)

Read of the Day:
This piece is lengthy but it’s well worth the read when it comes to collegiate athletics and the NCAA’s history of reform. Let’s just say the governing body doesn’t look too good by the end. (Inside Higher Ed)

Read of the Day:
It looks as if another columnist has decided to ask the question of whether or not college basketball is in bad shape. This piece was sparked by the torn ACL suffered by Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel, and whether or not we agree with such questioning it’s good to get a variety of opinions on the subject. (New Yorker)

 

Top Stories:
Nonprofit group sues NCAA over rule barring of felons from coaching AAU teams: In an attempt to help clean up grassroots basketball, the NCAA implemented restrictions baring former felons from coaching in sanctioned tournaments. A nonprofit group has stepped forwward with the hopes to get the rule overturned.

Deep rotation, defense spark Louisiana Tech’s 12-0 WAC start: The Bulldogs are just one of eight teams that remained unscathed in conference play. While the conference’s infrastructure is almost non-existent, Michael White’s has been playing at an extremely high level and could be poised to make some noise in March.

Five future Kentucky Wildcats named McDonald’s All-Americans: The McDonald’s All-America Game rosters were announced on Thursday, with five players who will attend Kentucky next year being chosen. The Harrison twins, Marcus Lee, James Young and Dakari Johnson all made the cut, and with Aaron Gordon and Andrew Wiggins still undecided UK could very well see that number increase.

Aesthetics mean little in Minnesota’s win over No. 20 Wisconsin: It wasn’t pretty but when a team has lost six of its last eight games beggars can’t be choosers. And fans may want to get used to the Golden Gophers winning ugly games.

Weber State makes statement in win over Montana: Randy Rahe’s Wildcats may still trail Montana by a game in the Big Sky standings, but their 87-63 win over the Grizzlies was quite the statement.

Colorado will ultimately go as far as Spencer Dinwiddie takes them: Colorado avenged a controversial loss with a 71-58 win over No. 9 Arizona and their sophomore point guard was a major reason why. In fact, if Colorado is to win games in March, Spencer Dinwiddie will have to lead the way.

Hoops Housekeeping:

Drexel’s Fouch aiming for 2013-14 return: Drexel fifth-year senior guard will miss the remainder of the season due to a fractured right ankle suffered in November. And according the head coach Bruiser Flint the plan is to apply for a sixth year of eligibility. Fouch has already missed on season due to a torn ACL, which could help his chances of receiving a sixth year.

Observations & Insight:
– Stanford’s rally fell just short at home, and the end result is a one-point loss to USC that doesn’t help their chances of grabbing a bid to the NCAA tournament (San Jose Mercury-News) 

– It was far-fetched a couple weeks ago to even consider California for the NCAA tournament, but their play of late has the Golden Bears thinking that they can make a late-season run (The Dagger)

– Weber State looked like the best team in the Big Sky on Thursday night, and their play has led one writer to make that case (Big Sky Basketball)

– Just four players in all of college basketball attempt 80% or more of their field goals from beyond the arc. Two of them are VCU’s Troy Daniels and Boise State’s Jeff Elorriaga, who have been key cogs in the attacks of their respective teams (Sports Illustrated)

– It’s safe to say that South Carolina head coach is none too thrilled with his team right now, especially after a disappointing effort in a 64-46 home loss to LSU (Gamecocks Online)

– With a trip to Harvard on Saturday looming, Princeton refuses to look past their game on Friday night at Dartmouth. (Trentonian)

Odds & Ends:
– Former Providence forward Dickey Simpkins is being inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame this weekend (Friar Basketball) 

Photo of the Day:
https://twitter.com/BrucePascoe/status/302229571938426880

Video of the Day:
Can’t say that I’m a fan of Ke$ha but she provided the music of choice for Minnesota, who did some dancing to celebrate their win over No. 20 Wisconsin (h/t The Dagger). 

Video of the Day:
Valentine’s Day has passed but the ACC used to occasion to catch up with one of the greatest backcourts in the history of the league. N.C. State’s “Fire and Ice,” Chris Corchianni and Rodney Monroe.

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)

Top 50 SG Tyler Herro de-commits from Wisconsin

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Last September, Wisconsin landed a pledge from a highly regarded 2018 prospect as shooting guard Tyler Herro announced that he would remain in state and play for Greg Gard. Tuesday evening Herro, considered to be a Top 50 prospect by many of the major recruiting services, announced that he has decided to reopen his recruitment.

“After a lot of conversations with my family and prayer I have decided to reopen my recruitment and explore all of my options,” Herro said in a statement released via Twitter. “The past year since I committed I have grown not only as a basketball player, but as a person. My drive to become the best on all levels has been the fuel that drove this decision.”

With Herro’s change of heart, Wisconsin is now without a verbal commitment in the Class of 2018. The 6-foot-4 Milwaukee native picked Wisconsin over Arizona, Florida, Indiana, DePaul and Marquette, and given his talent Herro’s recruitment should not take long to pick up following his decision to open things back up.

The Badgers added three scholarship freshmen to the program this summer, with two being perimeter players in Brad Davison and Kobe King. Wisconsin currently does not have a senior in its perimeter rotation, which helps from a numbers standpoint when it comes to 2018. But to lose a recruit of Herro’s caliber, and an in-state prospect at that, is a major hit for the Wisconsin program to absorb.

Bob Knight requests to not be included in Assembly Hall sculptures

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On Tuesday it was announced by Indiana University that five sculptures will be placed throughout Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall to pay tribute to the teams that have won national championships. With former head coach Bob Knight, who has not been on good terms with the school since his dismissal in 2000, being the head coach of three of those teams it’s fair to wonder if he would be a part of any of those sculptures.

Unfortunately Knight will not be in the sculptures for the 1976, 1981 or 1987 national championship teams, as it was noted in the release that the former coach requested to not be included. According to the Indianapolis Star, Indiana athletics director Fred Glass said that it is school policy to request permission to depict someone on this kind of project. The school reached out to Knight, who declined the request.

The sculpture honoring the 1976 team was the reason for the school reaching out to Knight, as it honors the team that is the most Division I team to go through an entire season without a loss. That teams was led by the likes of Kent Benson, Scott May and Bobby Wilkerson, and won the first of Knight’s three national titles at Indiana.

After being fired prior to the start of the 2000-01 season, Knight spent a year away from coaching before accepting the head coaching job at Texas Tech. Despite Indiana having honored former players and teams of Knight’s in recent years, the relationship between the former coach and the school he led to three national titles remains strained to this day.

As for the sculptures, fans will be able to see them for the first time at Hoosier Hysteria on October 21.

Rick Pitino files federal lawsuit against adidas

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Former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino’s quest to prove that he had nothing to do with the ongoing FBI investigation into corruption and fraud in college basketball produced another development on Tuesday. As first reported by ESPN’s Jay Bilas, Pitino has filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Louisville with adidas being the lone defendant.

Per media reports, Pitino is suing the company for its “outrageous conduct in conspiring to funnel money to the family of a college basketball recruit.”

Adidas’ connection to the ongoing criminal investigation is that two of its employees within the basketball department, Jim Gatto and Merl Code, were among the ten people arrested. While no one directly tied to Louisville has been charged, FBI documents revealed connections between members of the basketball program and the accused parties.

As a result of the investigation Louisville freshman small forward Brian Bowen is being withheld from all basketball activities by the school. Bowen and his family have since hired an attorney in an attempt to get the freshman reinstated.

Among the instances of wrongdoing documented by the FBI was a transaction in which $100,000 was paid in exchange for a recruit committing to attend Louisville. The timeline of the events were close to Bowen’s commitment timeline, with the five-star prospect announcing that he would attend Louisville in early June.

As a result of the investigation Pitino was placed on unpaid by Louisville, with the school’s Board of Regents voting unanimously to fire the head coach with cause on Monday.

Northeast Conference Preview: Who survived after transfers gutted the league?

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Beginning in September and running up through November 10th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the NEC.

The NEC was absolutely brutalized by outgoing transfers this offseason. Of the 11 non-seniors that were on one of the three all-NEC teams, just four of them return to school. That includes three first-team all-NEC sophomores, but I’m not sure anyone in all of college basketball got hit quite as hard this offseason as Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jamion Christian did.

Coming off of an NEC regular season title and his second trip to the NCAA tournament in the last five years, Christian saw three key pieces opt to leave. Elijah Long, a sophomore guard that was a first-team all-league player and the Mount’s leading scorer a season ago, transferred to Texas. Miles Wilson, the team’s third-leading scorer and one of the best freshmen in the conference last year, transferred to Miami. Mawdo Sallah transferred to Kansas State.

The Mountaineers do return Junior Robinson, a 5-foot-5 dynamo that will be one of the most entertaining players in the mid-major ranks, as well as Greg Alexander, but Christian is going to have his work cut out for him.

With Mount St. Mary’s – and Robert Morris, another perennial power in the league that is dealing with the loss of a star player (Isaiah Still) transferring – the favorite is probably St. Francis (PA). The Red Flash, despite losing Josh Nebo to Texas A&M, return Isiah Blackmon and reigning Freshman of the Year Keith Braxton. They return the most talent of anyone that finished in the top half of the league.

Fairleigh Dickinson is a team to keep an eye on as well, although it will be tough for them to overcome a pair of their own transfers, as Stephen Jiggetts is now at South Florida and Earl Potts left school. But Darian Anderson returns, as does Mike Holloway and Darnell Edge.

Despite losing their top two scorers from last season, LIU Brooklyn should also be back in the mix. Jashaun Agosto returns for his sophomore season after a promising freshman year while Joel Hernandez, who averaged double-figures as a junior, is back after missing last season through injury. Bryant could find their way into the mix as well, although Nisre Zouzoua’s transfer was a massive blow.

MORE: 2017-18 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

 PRESEASON NEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Darian Anderson, Fairleigh Dickinson

Anderson is the leading returning scorer in the NEC this season, and he’ll be playing on a team that will be competing for the league title. With the Knights losing their second- and third-leading scorers from last year, Anderson is going to have more of the offensive load to carry.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-NEC TEAM

  • Junior Robinson, Mount St. Mary’s: Robinson is the second-leading returning scorer in the conference, and with the Mount losing so much, the 5-foot-5 point guard will be asked to do a lot.
  • Keith Braxton, St. Francis (PA): Braxton was the best freshman in the conference a year ago.
  • Isiah Blackmon, St. Francis (PA): Blackmon was a third-team all-NEC performer as a sophomore.
  • Joseph Lopez, Sacred Heart: Lopez is back to anchor a front line for the most veteran team in the league.

PREDICTED FINISH

1. St. Francis (PA)
2. Fairleigh Dickinson
3. LIU Brooklyn
4. Robert Morris
5. Mount St. Mary’s
6. Bryant
7. Sacred Heart
8. Wagner
9. Central Connecticut State
10. St. Francis-Brooklyn

Ohio Valley Conference Preview: A trio of teams lead the way

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Beginning in September and running up through November 10th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Ohio Valley Conference.

Two-time OVC player of the year Evan Bradds has graduated, but Belmont remains one of the favorites to claim another conference title.

The first task for the Bruins will be figuring out how to replace or replicate Bradds’ bucket-getting that powered the offense to a 23-win season. Amanze Egekeze and Dylan Winder would both seem to be the natural heirs after posting effective field goal percentages over 60 last year. Like Bradds, both are terrors on the inside, shooting better than 65 percent on 2-pointers, but also have a dimension that Bradds didn’t – 3-point shooting, with Egekeze converting 38.7 percent and Winder 40.2 percent from distance. Without the high-usage Bradds on the roster, both will likely see huge increases in roles, with guard Austin Luke setting them up.

Murray State suffered its first losing season in over 30 years when they went 16-17 last year in Matt McMahon’s second season since succeeding Steve Prohm, but the Racers appear to be on track for an immediate bounce back. Some of the struggle last year can be attributable to plain old bad luck as Murray State went 0-4 in the regular season in overtime games and went 1-8 in games decided by five points or less. The Racers, though, will have to clean things up on the defensive end if they want to challenge for a league title. They were below-average in just about every single facet of the game on that end, and adding five freshmen into the mix may make real strides there difficult. Murray State does have, though, Jonathan Stark, who averaged nearly 22 points per game last season, and he’s a game-changer. They also added junior college standout Anthony Smith, which makes them a threat to capture the conference.

Jacksonville State didn’t look much like a spoiler heading into March last year when they finished with a 9-7 OVC record, but the Gamecocks reeled off three wins, including over league champ Belmont, in the conference tournament to snag an NCAA tournament bid. Second-team all-OVC guard Malcolm Drumwright returns for his senior season and to give coach Ray Harper another dangerous team. Seven-footer Norbertas Giga is also back after putting 30 on Louisville in the NCAA tournament. It will be critical for the Gamecocks to defend the 3-point line better this season. Between Giga and junior Christian Cunningham, Jacksonville State has solid rim protection, but allowed opponents to shoot nearly 38 percent from distance. Some of that is sure to just be variable, but bringing that number down will be a huge determinant of success.

Beyond that, the OVC is tough to project this season, as a number of last season’s contenders lost some key pieces. One group to keep an eye on: Eastern Kentucky. With Asante Gist and Nick Mayo returning, Dan McHale has one of the best 1-2 punches in the league.

MORE: 2017-18 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

PRESEASON OVC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jonathan Stark, Murray State

The 6-foot guard returns after averaging 21.9 points in his first season with the Racers after transferring from Tulane. He got up nearly eight 3-point attempts per game, converting at a 42.5 percent clip. He’s the rare high-volume shooter that also plays efficiently.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON OVC TEAM

  • Malcolm Drumwright, Jacksonville State: All-conference guard will lead the charge for the Gamecocks to get back to the NCAA tournament.
  • Nick Mayo, Eastern Kentucky: A 39 percent 3-point shooter, Mayo scored 18.5 points per game last year.
  • Denzel Mahoney, Southeast Missouri: Mahoney was a breakout star last year as a freshman, putting up nearly 15 points per game and shooting 37.7 percent from 3.
  • Terrell Miller, Murray State: A double-double threat every night, Miller averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds per game.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @OVCSports

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Belmont
2. Murray State
3. Jacksonville State
4. Tennessee State
5. Eastern Illinois
6. Eastern Kentucky
7. SIU-Edwardsville
8. Tennessee Tech
9. Southeast Missouri
10. Morehead State
11. UT Martin
12. Austin Peay