Randy Bennett

Saint Mary’s placed on four years probation for NCAA rules violations

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The NCAA rendered its decision in regards to rules violations committed by the Saint Mary’s basketball program and it wasn’t pretty, as the school was placed on probation for four years (March 1, 2013 to February 28, 2017).

The sanctions stem from illegal recruiting practices, with head coach Randy Bennett being cited for both failure to monitor and failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. Bennett will serve a five-game suspension next season and is prohibited from recruiting off-campus during the 2013-14 academic year but he avoids the show-cause penalty that can essentially torpedo a coaching career.

The full list of sanctions levied against the program are as follows:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Four years probation from March 1, 2013 through February 28, 2017.
  • The head coach must serve a five-game suspension during the 2013-14 season.
  • The head coach may not recruit off-campus during the 2013-14 academic year.
  • A two-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach. The public report contains further details.
  • Reduction of men’s basketball scholarships from 13 to 11 for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
  • Elimination of foreign tours by the men’s basketball team until the start of the 2017-18 season.
  • The men’s basketball team may not participate in a multiple-team event until the 2015-16 season.
  • The men’s basketball team may not receive skill instruction during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.

According to the report a former assistant coach knowingly committed multiple violations in the recruitment of three prospects, one of which being an international prospect. That assistant (the NCAA does not name provide names in the public report) received a two-year show-cause penalty, meaning that if any NCAA program wanted to hire him within that period it would have to meet with the Committee on Infractions to determine if the school should be subject to the show-cause penalties.

According to the committee, the former assistant coach acted unethically when he knowingly committed recruiting violations for three prospects. The majority of the recruiting activity by the former assistant coach centered on an international prospect and included impermissible travel, local transportation and the arrangement of host family accommodations. He also attempted to assist a second international prospect by providing personal financial information as part of the prospect’s efforts in obtaining a student visa. The impermissible activity occurred both while the former assistant coach was employed by the college and as an athletics representative after he was no longer employed with the college.

The two-year ban on skill instruction stems from the school failing to monitor workouts with basketball trainers and conditioning coaches from outside of the program, and Saint Mary’s is also prohibited from taking part in any in-season tournaments for the next two seasons.

That sanction makes their non-conference schedule even more important. Saint Mary’s non-conference schedule is currently ranked 143rd nationally according to warrennolan.com, and without the ability to play in such events the Gaels will need to schedule more ambitiously in those two seasons.

Saint Mary’s wasn’t hit with a postseason ban and Bennett wasn’t given a show-cause penalty, but with the scholarship reductions and recruiting restraints the Gaels weren’t let off the hook.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.