Kentucky has dropped two straight after Thursday’s 72-62 loss to Georgia, which has only added to the bubble talk that has centered around this team for much of the season.
Since Nerlens Noel went down with a torn ACL, the Wildcats are 3-3 and head into Saturday’s afternoon showdown with No. 11 Florida. A win against Florida would bluster Kentucky’s resume, but a loss would force the Wildcats to make a run in the SEC Tournament. Head coach John Calipari put it simply to his team at Friday’s practice: “This is a one-game season.”
The stage is set for Big Blue Nation to lift its spirits. It’s at home, on senior day against the top team in the SEC. The same team that smacked them by 17 back on Feb. 12, which was also the game where Noel suffered his season-ending injury. If that’s not enough, maybe Kentucky isn’t deserving.
Coach Cal took all the blame for the team’s lack of chemistry, yet Archie Goodwin stated after the Georgia loss, the players have more than their fair share.
We’ve got one more regular season game left and there is not much you can coach us about. You can’t coach a mentality. You just can’t do it. He’s prepared us thus far, but you just can’t coach a mentality. You’ve got to want to do it.”
If the Wildcats want to be one of the 68 names called on Selection Sunday, they have the chance to prove it on Saturday with a marquee win to wrap up the regular season. Big Blue Nation will have a better sense of security with a win over the eleventh-ranked team in the country, especially with potential bid thieves coming from various conference tournaments.
The damage has been done with especially since Noel has gone done. All three losses have been by double figures, including a 30-point lss to Tennessee. Although Kentucky did beat Missouri, two of the three wins during this stretch have been against Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, who combine for a 10-24 conference record.
Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne
Last month the NCAA announced that due to rules violations found in their investigation of the SMU men’s basketball program, the team would be banned from postseason play in 2015-16 and head coach Larry Brown would be suspended for the first nine games of the 2015-16 season. With a team led by seniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy and just one player (Keith Frazier) being the subject of the investigation, it was assumed that SMU would at the very least appeal the postseason ban.
Friday, the school announced that while it will appeal some of the penalties handed down by the NCAA to the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs they will not appeal the postseason ban or Brown’s suspension.
“After careful consideration, however, we will not appeal the NCAA post-season ban on men’s basketball or partial season suspension of Head Men’s Basketball Coach Larry Brown,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner stated in the release. “Although we regret the severe impact on our student-athletes, the simple fact is that the NCAA penalty structure mandates at minimum a one-year post-season ban for the level of misconduct that occurred, in our case, when a former staff member completed an online high school course for a prospective student-athlete, committing academic misconduct.
“In addition, should we appeal this matter, the lengthy process and uncertainty during this period could harm many aspects of the program. Coach Brown and his staff also agree that it is in the best interests of the program to accept these sanctions and move forward.”
Among the penalties the school will appeal (with regards to the basketball program) are the “duration of scholarship losses” and how long the recruiting restrictions placed on the program will last, and the vacating of games Frazier played in during the 2013-14 season.
This a tough turn of events for players who had nothing to do with the violations, as they see their opportunity to return to the NCAA tournament taken away. As a result of the school’s decision, SMU’s season will end March 9 following their regular season finale against Cincinnati.
Kevin Marfo committed to George Washington on Friday evening, announcing his decision on Twitter.
“I am grateful and appreciative to all the schools that recruited me. But I will be spending the next four years at George Washington University,” he tweeted.
This caps a successful week for Mike Lonergan on the recruiting trail. On Tuesday, GW landed a commitment from Darnell Rogers, a 5-foot-3 point guard. He is the son of former GW guard Shawnta Rogers, the 1999 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. GW ends the week by adding a tenacious rebounder to a front court that graduates top rebounder Kevin Larsen after this season. Rogers and Marfo join power forward Collin Smith in the Class of 2016. Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina will also be eligible in 2016-17.
He cut his list to 10 in August with Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Boston College, UMass, Saint Joseph’s, DePaul, Rhode Island and Providence all making the cut along wit the Colonials. He later trimmed the list to five finalists: BC, Providence, DePaul, GW and Rhode Island.
The Worcester Academy (Mass.) forward played for BABC this summer in the Nike EYBL, averaging 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-8 Marfo is listed as the No. 148 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.