Danny Manning

Report: Tulsa to join the (old) Big East, East Carolina to join as full member


The carousel of conference realignment spins on.

According to a report from ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy, Tulsa will be the latest school to switch conferences, joining the Big East later this year, with East Carolina joining as a full member in 2014.

Both programs will be leaving Conference USA as a result. East Carolina had initially announced it would join as a football-only member.

Tulane and Navy will round-out the 11 schools when they join. Navy is slated to join in 2015.

League commissioner Mike Aresco has not named expansion candidates, but said on Tuesday’s teleconference announcing the league’s media rights extension with CBS that the league expected to have “something relatively soon” on a new member.

“We are looking for a 12th team,” Aresco said. “Within the next few weeks, I think we’ll be able to announce a new member. We’ll have a member that brings great value to the conference.”

Aresco said Tuesday he expects the league to have 11 schools in 2014.

The search for a new name for the current Big East is nearing a conclusion.

“We are getting closer,” Aresco told ESPN.

Tulsa moving on to the Big East/soon-to-be-unnamed conference makes sense, even if just because it seems like every other current and former Conference USA member is doing the same thing. Geographically, it doesn’t make sense. But what does anymore with conference realignment?

From a basketball standpoint, East Carolina isn’t much to bring in with only two NCAA Tournament appearances, the last one in 1993. However, they did finish the season 18-11 this year under Jeff Lebo. Tulsa brings in better recent success, with their last NCAA appearance coming in 2003. They also have two NIT titles to their credit.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.