Billy Taylor

Former Ball State head coach Billy Taylor joins Iowa staff as director of basketball operations

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After posting an 84-99 record in six seasons as head coach at Ball State, Billy Taylor was relieved of his duties back in March. Despite the way in which his tenure in Muncie ended, Taylor’s 15 years of college coaching experience can be an asset to a program.

That’s one reason why Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery decided to add Taylor to his staff as the program’s director of basketball operations, with the move being announced by the school on Saturday.

The two have worked together before, as they were both members of John MacLeod’s staff at Notre Dame during the 1998-99 season, and Taylor was one of McCaffery’s assistants at UNC-Greensboro (1999-2002) before becoming the head coach at Lehigh.

Taylor will replace Jerry Strom as Iowa’s director of basketball operations, with Strom making the decision to retire at the end of the 2012-13 season.

“We are extremely excited to have Billy Taylor join the Hawkeye family,” McCaffery said in the release. “I’ve known Billy since he was a teenager, having recruited and coached him, as well as being on the same coaching staff at Notre Dame and UNC-Greensboro. Billy is someone with tremendous character and will be a great asset to our program.”

Overall Taylor has a record of 165-168 in 11 seasons as a head coach, with his one NCAA tournament appearance coming with Lehigh in 2004. Taylor won’t be allowed to actively work with the players in his new role, but having another experienced voice in the room should be a positive for McCaffery.

Iowa reached the title game of the Postseason NIT last year, and with the majority of their key contributors returning (forward Aaron White and guard Devyn Marble being two) the Hawkeyes are expected by many to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.

Iowa will play six games in Europe next month, making stops in London and Paris. The games will serve as an opportunity to get a head start on preparations for the 2013-14 season, in addition to incorporating newcomers Jarrod Uthoff (sat out last season after transferring in from Wisconsin) and Peter Jok into the system.

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?