Syracuse will retire Lawrence Moten’s jersey

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Lawrence Moten didn’t have much of an NBA career, so casual fans may have forgotten him. But the Syracuse swingman was one of the greatest Big East players of the 1990s, and his alma mater definitely hasn’t forgotten that.

Moten himself revealed that Syracuse has told him they will retire his No. 21 jersey this season, though the date hasn’t been settled. With the Orange entering the ACC, Moten won’t be able to take his bows in front of an old-school rival – his career high of 36 points came against Villanova, for instance – but he has an idea of which setting would please him the most.

“Hopefully it will be a Duke game,” Moten said Wednesday night. “It’s one of the biggest games on the schedule. I envision them putting the court in the middle of the Dome. It’s just my vision.”

Moten projected the scenario after making a guest appearance at a Syracuse Chiefs game at NBT Bank Stadium. He signed autographs, threw out the first pitch and then taped several promos for the team long after almost everyone else had left the park.

Momentum for the honor gathered steam during Syracuse’s trip to the most recent Men’s Final Four, where gathered Orange fans gave a warm welcome to the man who still holds the Big East and Syracuse all-time scoring record at age 40. As a superstar player who stayed all four years, his mark of 1,405 career points is unlikely to be bested.

While the honor is definitely deserved, it’s also a smart move for the school to do it this season. In breaking with the Big East, the Orange will do well to honor a living link to their history even as they transition to a new league. Perhaps a nice jersey retirement ceremony will ease some of the sting and confusion for fans facing a whole new roster of opponents night-in and night-out.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?