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Tyler Ennis’ play in U19s promising for Syracuse

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While much of the attention from the U19 World Championships over the last two weeks was heaped upon the Americans — Aaron Gordon, Montrezl Harrell, Jahlil Okafor, etc. — perhaps the most important player at the event suited up for our neighbors up north.

Tyler Ennis played his high school ball for St. Benedict’s in New Jersey and will be moving on to play for Jim Boeheim at Syracuse this coming season, but Ennis is one of the best players in a loaded class for Canadian hoopers.

He’s also a point guard, which Syracuse is in dire need of with Michael Carter-Williams turning pro the same year that Brandon Triche graduated. The Orange have a slew of talent once again — CJ Fair, Jerami Grant, Trevor Cooney and yet another loaded recruiting class, to name a few — but Ennis will be the only floor general on the roster.

Coming in with the reputation of being more of a facilitator than scorer — he’s described by ESPN as being “a great play maker that can also run the team” — how did Ennis do in Russia? Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News breaks it down:

In a quarterfinal matchup against the U.S., Ennis was overwhelmed by the constant pressure from a series of rotating American defenders. He was not alone; teammate Xavier Rathan-Mayes, bound for Florida State, got the same treatment. Ennis shot 5-of-12 from the field and scored only 11 points.

Ennis led the tournament in scoring, though, in part because of a 42-point explosion against China in a classification game. He shot 15-of-32 from the field in that one, getting to the lane at will. That is his game. He is not an exceptional 3-point shooter yet, and the development of that part of his game will determine how greatly he succeeds.

Struggling against the Americans is a bit concerning, but his scoring is a good sign.

Syracuse is going to need Ennis to be aggressive offensively. While there are pieces around him, there aren’t many guys that are going to be able to consistently create their own shot. And outside of CJ Fair, their leading returning scorer is Rakeem Christmas, who averaged all of 5.1 points.

The Orange will need Ennis to be a scoring threat, and it looks like he’s capable of doing that when needed.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

USC athletic director Pat Haden to step down in June

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LOS ANGELES (AP) University of Southern California athletic director Pat Haden says he will retire on June 30.

USC President Max Nikias made the announcement Friday.

Haden has run the athletic department for 5 1/2 years, leading the Trojans through a multiyear stretch of NCAA sanctions against its vaunted football program. He created a large NCAA compliance program and improved graduation rates and grade point averages across the athletic department.

The former USC quarterback also received criticism for the football program’s relative underachievement and for his handling of coach Steve Sarkisian, who has sued the school over his termination last year.

Nikias says Haden’s department also raised over $400 million during his tenure.

Nikias says Haden will start a one-year job guiding the renovation of the Coliseum after he retires.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ivy League’s best meet in New Haven

Columbia guard Maodo Lo, right, steals the ball from Northwestern forward Aaron Falzon, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Evanston, Ill.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Columbia at Yale, 5:00 p.m.

The two best teams in the Ivy League, with matching 4-0 league records, meet for the first time this season. The Lions were close to suffering their first loss last weekend, but an Alex Rosenberg jumper as time expired gave the Lions the win at reigning champion Harvard. Rosenberg’s one of four players averaging at least 12.2 points per game for Kyle Smith’s team, with senior guard Maodo Lo leading the way at 15.8 per contest.

They’ll face a Yale rotation led offensively by point guard Makai Mason (15.7 ppg, 4.1 apg), and the front court tandem of Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod has been outstanding. The winner get a leg up in the Ivy race, with the rematch scheduled for March 5 in New York City (regular season finale).

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Central Michigan at Akron, 8:00 p.m.

Two of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference meet at the JAR, as Akron looks to extend its win streak to six straight. The Zips’ balanced offensive attack has been led by forward Isaiah Johnson (12.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg), who currently leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. As for the visiting Chippewas, guards Braylon Rayson and Chris Fowler combine to average 32.7 points per game, with Fowler also responsible for a MAC-best 6.3 assists per contest. CMU’s had some struggles on the defensive glass in league play, ranking 11th in that category, but they’ve done a better job defensively than they did in non-conference play.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • MAAC leader Monmouth is back in action, as they host a Fairfield team led by one of the conference’s best players in senior forward Marcus Gilbert. The Hawks have a deep lineup led by junior guard Justin Robinson, who at this point in time is the likely frontrunner for MAAC Player of the Year honors.
  • Looking to catch Monmouth is Iona, which is a game behind the Hawks at 9-3. A.J. English and the Gaels visit Canisius in a matchup that should not lack for offense. Iona’s more inclined to run, but Canisius doesn’t lack scorers either with guard Malcolm McMillan leading four players averaging double figures.
  • Given the fact that they’re 1-3 in Ivy League play, Harvard’s essentially in the spoiler role unless some chaos breaks out at the top end of the standings. The Crimson can help in that regard with a win at Princeton, with the Tigers (2-1) a game behind Columbia and Yale in the loss column. Princeton’s been the better offensive team this season, thanks in large part to junior forward Henry Caruso who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding.