USA Basketball

United States World University Games team bounces back, blows out Norway

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In the aftermath of its loss to Canada, the United States World University Games team knew that it could finish no better than ninth at the games. In some cases, not having a medal to play for can result in a team putting forth a less than satisfactory effort.

Bob McKillop’s team had no such issues in its first consolation bracket game Sunday, as the Americans blew out Norway by the final score of 91-51. Indiana senior wing Will Sheehey led the way offensively with 16 points, while forwards Aaron White (Iowa) and Cory Jefferson (Baylor) chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds apiece.

“When you lose two in a row and are knocked out of the medal round, it’s tough to get off the mat, and these guys showed that they are capable of that today,” McKillop said after the game according to USA Basketball. “They showed it by their unselfishness and their team defense.”

Outside of VCU’s Treveon Graham, who missed the game and will sit out the remainder of the tournament after suffering a minor concussion, every United States player who saw action scored and 29 of the team’s 34 made field goals were of the assisted variety.

Among the other standouts for the U.S. on Sunday were Creighton’s Doug McDermott (ten points), Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie (team-high eight assists with no turnovers) and New Mexico big man Alex Kirk (team-high eight rebounds).

“We started having fun again, and I think that’s important because everyone was starting to hit shots and getting open dunks,” said Kirk. “That’s what’s fun, and that’s why you play basketball, to have fun with it. I think that kind of got the energy going, and then our bench came through. The second-set sparked that, so that was a lot of fun.”

Three players finished the game with at least six assists, with Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell (seven) and Louisville’s Luke Hancock (six) joining Dinwiddie. After a tight first quarter the U.S. took control, with their 64.3% shooting inside of the arc proving to be one of the keys to victory.

Next up for the U.S. is a matchup with Germany on Monday morning.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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?