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UConn looking to expand their brand across the state

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The most high-profile college basketball team in New England is looking to expand their brand and give fans across the state of Connecticut increased opportunities to see UConn basketball.

According to The Courantthe University of Connecticut is having conversations with Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville (30 miles south of the UConn Campus) and Harbor Yard Arena in Bridgeport (80 miles southeast) as hosts for men’s and women’s basketball games.

Aside from the XL Center in downtown Hartford, these two arenas are two of the state’s premier facilities to host sporting events, and both have hosted plenty college basketball games in the past. While Mohegan Sun is host to the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun and the newer of the two arenas, this year the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament will take place here. Harbor Yard Arena has hosted several NCAA Division 1 women’s tournament games in the past, and is also the home for Fairfield University’s men’s basketball.

A primary reason that UConn is exploring home games at other venues across the state is because their contract with the XL Center expired last season. According to a source, going forward UConn will not sign a contract that mandates them to play a select number of home games at just one arena:  “One way or another, UConn was not going to allow that [exclusivity] to happen in any new deal,” said one source.

Not to mention, rental fees at the XL Center are quite expensive.

For many of the marquee games against big-name opponents, UConn is still likely to play at Gampel Pavillion (the on-campus arena) or at the XL Center in the future: “The men are not moving games like Memphis [away from Hartford or Gampel],” said one source. “But I also think there is a very good chance that UConn is going to do some business with Bridgeport.”

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

SMU won’t appeal tournament ban, Brown suspension

Associated Press
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Last month the NCAA announced that due to rules violations found in their investigation of the SMU men’s basketball program, the team would be banned from postseason play in 2015-16 and head coach Larry Brown would be suspended for the first nine games of the 2015-16 season. With a team led by seniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy and just one player (Keith Frazier) being the subject of the investigation, it was assumed that SMU would at the very least appeal the postseason ban.

Friday, the school announced that while it will appeal some of the penalties handed down by the NCAA to the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs they will not appeal the postseason ban or Brown’s suspension.

“After careful consideration, however, we will not appeal the NCAA post-season ban on men’s basketball or partial season suspension of Head Men’s Basketball Coach Larry Brown,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner stated in the release. “Although we regret the severe impact on our student-athletes, the simple fact is that the NCAA penalty structure mandates at minimum a one-year post-season ban for the level of misconduct that occurred, in our case, when a former staff member completed an online high school course for a prospective student-athlete, committing academic misconduct.

“In addition, should we appeal this matter, the lengthy process and uncertainty during this period could harm many aspects of the program. Coach Brown and his staff also agree that it is in the best interests of the program to accept these sanctions and move forward.”

Among the penalties the school will appeal (with regards to the basketball program) are the “duration of scholarship losses” and how long the recruiting restrictions placed on the program will last, and the vacating of games Frazier played in during the 2013-14 season.

This a tough turn of events for players who had nothing to do with the violations, as they see their opportunity to return to the NCAA tournament taken away. As a result of the school’s decision, SMU’s season will end March 9 following their regular season finale against Cincinnati.

Kevin Marfo commits to George Washington

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Kevin Marfo committed to George Washington on Friday evening, announcing his decision on Twitter.

“I am grateful and appreciative to all the schools that recruited me. But I will be spending the next four years at George Washington University,” he tweeted.

This caps a successful week for Mike Lonergan on the recruiting trail. On Tuesday, GW landed a commitment from Darnell Rogers, a 5-foot-3 point guard. He is the son of former GW guard Shawnta Rogers, the 1999 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. GW ends the week by adding a tenacious rebounder to a front court that graduates top rebounder Kevin Larsen after this season. Rogers and Marfo join power forward Collin Smith in the Class of 2016. Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina will also be eligible in 2016-17.

He cut his list to 10 in August with Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Boston College, UMass, Saint Joseph’s, DePaul, Rhode Island and Providence all making the cut along wit the Colonials. He later trimmed the list to five finalists: BC, Providence, DePaul, GW and Rhode Island.

The Worcester Academy (Mass.) forward played for BABC this summer in the Nike EYBL, averaging 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.  The 6-foot-8 Marfo is listed as the No. 148 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.