John Thompson III

Is there a chance that the Maryland-Georgetown rivalry could restart?

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John Thompson III hopped on a podcast with ESPN’s Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg, and got asked plenty of questions about his Georgetown program, which just so happens to be the hottest team in the Big East right now.

But the more interesting topics of conversation dealt with much more difficult issues that Otto Porter’s emergence over the past month or the play of Markel Starks and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera in the back court.

Katz, to his credit, was all over JT3 about the future of some of the Hoyas’ most intense rivalries.

“It will continue. It will continue,” Thompson said of the future of the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry. “Now, is it gonna be every year? I don’t know. The unfortunate fact, when they started this process of breaking off, is now they’ve fallen into the clump of out-of-conference scheduling, and that’s a hard balance to try to fit in each and every thing. […] We don’t know who’s gonna be in your league, how many league games you’re going to play.”

That’s great news. Hopefully, the rivalry between the Orange and the Hoyas can continue well into the future. Regardless of how conference realignment decides to shape the college hoops landscape in the coming years, the historical significance of that rivalry should not be lost on people.

But that’s far from the most interesting rivalry nugget that came out of that podcast. Is there a chance that Maryland could end up playing Georgetown in basketball again?

That rivalry has nothing to do with anything that’s happened on the court. Or the soccer pitch. Or the lacrosse field. Or in any sporting event. There’s animosity that dates back decades — to the years of Lefty Driesell and John Thompson Jr. — that won’t easily be swept under the rug.

That said, both JT3 and Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon told Katz that they get along — Thompson’s brother Ronny coached with Turgeon at Oregon — and that there may be a speck of a chance that the Beltway Series can get renewed (transcription via the DC Sportsbog):

“Uh, there are chances that that will happen,” Thompson said first.

“Can you expand?” Katz asked.

“No, I cannot,” Thompson said. “There are chances that that could happen.”

Katz asked for a percentage.

“Um, no idea,” Thompson said. “No idea. And we’ll see as we go forward. I’m a good friend of Turge, let me just say that. And actually Turge and my brother Ronny worked together at Oregon as assistants for Jerry Green, and so Turge and I are friends. We’ll see. That’s a tangled web, that issue.”

“Why is that so tangled, why?” Katz asked.

“I don’t know,” Thompson answered. “I’ve said enough. I’ve said enough.”

Moments later, Turgeon dialed in, and the first question concerned a series with Georgetown.

“There’s a chance,” Turgeon said. “John and I go way back. And I did work with Ronny. I’ve got a lot of respect for John, he’s doing a great job this year with his team. I like watching them play. I hope we can get it started in the future. When we first got here, John and I talked a little bit, but that’s between me and him. But we do have a relationship. I think it’d be great for the area if we could get it done. But we’ll see. We’ll see as we move forward.”

Make this happen.

We’ve had enough rivalries go up in flames thanks to realignment. Reigniting an old one would only be good for the sport.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Auburn lands third transfer within the last week

Auburn guard T.J. Dunans (4) and coach Bruce Pearl celebrate a 75-74 win over UAB in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.  (Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP)
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After receiving commitments from former Purdue/Houston guard Ronnie Johnson and former Presbyterian forward DeSean Murray, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl continued to load up on the transfer market Monday. Forward LaRon Smith, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at Bethune-Cookman last season, announced that he will use his final season of eligibility at the SEC program.

Like Smith, Johnson will also be eligible to compete immediately for the Tigers while Murray will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.

The 6-foot-8 Smith played two seasons at Georgia State before transferring to Bethune-Cookman, where he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest in 2015-16. Smith played just over 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats, shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

Smith reached double figures in scoring in four of the Wildcats’ final seven games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block outing in an overtime win over North Carolina A&T. He joins a front court in need of depth following the departures of the likes of Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris, with Horace Spencer, Trayvon Reed and incoming freshman Anfernee McLemore also competing for minutes in 2016-17.

SMU lands former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt

Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt (24) leaps for a layup past Tennessee guard Shembari Phillips (25) during an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Arkansas won 75-65. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)
Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP
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With a five-member recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, SMU added a talented transfer Monday afternoon. Jimmy Whitt, who played his freshman season at Arkansas, committed to join Larry Brown’s program. Whitt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Columbia, Missouri, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.

As a freshman at Arkansas, Whitt averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game. He reached double figures in scoring nine time, with the high being a 15-point outing in a blowout win over Missouri in mid-January. Whitt produced a stretch of four consecutive games in double figures during non-conference play, but he struggled to maintain that consistency against SEC competition.

At SMU he’ll join a perimeter rotation that will lose rising senior Sterling Brown following the 2016-17 season. Among those who will have eligibility remaining when Whitt becomes eligible are Ben Emelogu, Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and incoming freshmen Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell.

 

Boise State assistant named head coach at Northern Colorado

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Courtesy UNCBears.com
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GREELEY, Colo. (AP) Jeff Linder is the new basketball coach at Northern Colorado. He spent the last six seasons at Boise State, where he was associate head coach for the Broncos since 2013-14.

Linder replaces B.J. Hill, who was fired last month amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of violations in the program.

University President Kay Norton and Athletic Director Darren Dunn announced Linder’s hiring Sunday.

Linder played high school ball in Lafayette, Colorado, and college ball at Mesa State and Western Colorado State. He began his coaching career under Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton.

In a statement, Linder said, “I look forward to returning home to the state of Colorado and continuing to build this program into something everyone can be proud of.”

Hill was 86-98 in six seasons at UNC.

Duke’s Azura Stevens transfers to UConn

Duke's Azura Stevens (11) steals the ball from North Carolina A&T's Kenya Hailey, right, as Duke's Ka'lia Johnson watches during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Jan. 2, 2015, in Durham, N.C. (AP Photo/Ellen Ozier)
(AP Photo/Ellen Ozier)
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STORRS, Conn. (AP) Azura Stevens, the leading scorer and rebounder for Duke, has decided to transfer to UConn.

The 6-foot-6 sophomore center from Raleigh, North Carolina will sit out next season and will have two years of eligibility remaining when the 2017-18 season begins the school announced Saturday.

Stevens averaged 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds a game and was named to the ACC’s all-conference first team.

She was second in the league both scoring and rebounding.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Saturday that he normally doesn’t get involved in transfer situations, but Stevens convinced him that Storrs would be the right place for her going forward.

Beachem says he’ll be back at Notre Dame for senior season

Notre Dame's V.J. Beachem reacts during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Wisconsin in the regional semifinals of the men's NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 25, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Forward V.J. Beachem has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will return to Notre Dame for his senior season.

Beachem made the announcement Sunday night on Twitter, writing that he was thankful for the opportunity to experience the NBA draft process and invitations to work out for teams, “but now I’m ready to lead [Notre Dame]. #IMBACK.”

The 6-foot-8, 200-pound forward finished third on the team in scoring, averaging 12.0 points and 3.9 rebounds as the Irish finished 24-12. He was at his best in the NCAA Tournament, when he averaged 17.5 points as the Irish advanced to the Elite Eight for a second straight year.

Coach Mike Brey sent a Tweet saying he was thrilled Beachem will return.