Kevin Ollie

APR reports released, UConn ban lifted, six teams banned from postseason


The NCAA releases their annual academic progress ratings (APR) on Tuesday afternoon, with certain schools learning their fate for the upcoming season.

UConn, who were left out of the 2012-13 NCAA Tournament as a result of poor APR scores, has showed enough improvement to be allowed to participate in the postseason for the 2013-14 season.

The Huskies showed progress towards an eligible APR, going from an 889 in 2010-11 to a score of 897 in 2011-12.  As a result, all sanctions have been lifted for the season. Kevin Ollie showed that he can handle the job that the fanbase wanted him to get, succeeding Jim Calhoun and maintaining a high level of play and improving the academics of the program, as he did as an assistant last season.

In all, six teams — New Orleans, Florida International, Grambling State, Mississippi Valley State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Alabama State — received postseason bans for college basketball as a result of low APR scores. Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Mississippi Valley State will enter their second consecutive year of a postseason ban.

A year after experiencing one of their best seasons in over a decade, FIU will not be eligible for the postseason, posting a multi-year rate of 858, one year after posting a 909. They will also receive a practice time reduction.

NCAA guidelines require athletic programs to keep a four-year rolling APR of at least 900 or a two-year rolling APR of 930, or be punished with a postseason ban. Four-year APRs of at least 930, or two-year averages of 940 are required to avoid penalties such as reductions in practice time and/or scholarships.

In all, 18 schools received postseason bans on various athletic teams.

It’s always a good thing to have UConn contending in the college basketball world, not having them in it hurt things in the last year of the Big East Conference (as we know it) last season. As for FIU, you have to assume that, while Minnesota is by far a better gig than being the second school in Miami, this is one of the reason Richard Pitino bolted after one season with the Golden Panthers. Isaiah Thomas’ tenure and firing brought the program down on and off the court, noticeably.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.

Tyler Ulis injured as No. 1 Kentucky beats South Florida

Tyler Ulis, Ky Howard
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MIAMI (AP) Jamal Murray had 21 points and No. 1 Kentucky scored the final 15 points of the first half on the way to beating South Florida 84-63 in the HoopHall Miami Invitational on Friday.

Skal Labissiere added 17 points for the Wildcats (6-0), who led by as many as 31. Charles Matthews scored 11 points and Isaiah Briscoe finished with seven assists for Kentucky, now a winner of 37 consecutive regular-season games and 39 in a row against unranked opponents.

Chris Perry scored 14 points for USF (1-5), which has lost 18 consecutive games against teams ranked in the Top 25. Jaleel Cousins added 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and Jahmal McMurray scored 11 points for the Bulls.

Kentucky played the second half without starting guard Tyler Ulis, who departed with a right elbow injury after getting hurt while fighting for a ball loose on the floor.

Kentucky announced after the game that the injury was a hyperextension of the elbow and that he will be day-to-day.

The Bulls were within 27-21 with 6 minutes left in the first half after McMurray banked in a 3-pointer only a few feet away from where John Calipari was standing, and the look of anguish on the Kentucky coach’s face was clear.

It didn’t last long.

The Wildcats scored on seven of their next nine possessions and the game was over by halftime, Kentucky going into the break with a 42-21 lead.

It was a reunion for plenty of people on both benches. Calipari squared off with his former assistant Orlando Antigua, now in his second year leading USF. Antigua’s staff includes another former Calipari assistant in Rod Strickland, plus former Kentucky basketball staff members Mike Malone and Dominic Lombardi.

So the staffs have plenty of familiarity. On the court, there was plenty of disparity. Kentucky finished with a commanding 23-6 edge in points off turnovers and finished with 16 assists to the Bulls’ six.