Florida Gators Wilbekin chases the ball after a turnover as Florida Gulf Coast Eagles Comer tries to recover during the second half in their South Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Arlington

Florida ‘partially reinstates’ senior guard Scottie Wilbekin

Leave a comment

Indefinite suspensions seem to have become more common in recent years, with the designation allowing college coaches to (in theory) evaluate the suspended player over a length of time in order to make sure that a lesson’s been learned. One player in that position this offseason was Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin, who was suspended by head coach Billy Donovan in June for a violation of team rules.

Separated from his teammates, Wilbekin (who was suspended for three games to start last season) needed to show his coach that he’d made the changes necessary to once again be a valued member of the basketball program. During the team’s media day on Wednesday coach Donovan announced that Wilbekin’s been cleared to rejoin the team when practices begin on Friday (the Gators didn’t take advantage of the new rule that allowed teams to begin practicing on September 27).

But even with the clearance to practice Wilbekin will miss some game action to start the season.

Last season Wilbekin started 29 of the 35 games in which he played, posting averages of 9.1 points and 5.0 assists per game for a team that won 29 games and reached the Elite Eight. With the Gators having to replace their top three scorers (including guards Michael Rosario and Kenny Boynton) Wilbekin’s experience could potentially be an asset for a perimeter rotation that will include freshman Kasey Hill, Rutgers transfer Eli Walker (whenever he’s medically cleared after suffering a fractured leg in February) and sophomore Michael Frazier II (5.6 ppg; member of the USA U-19 World Championship squad).

But Wilbekin’s experience can only help Florida if he remains on the path charted out for him by Donovan and the coaching staff.

Florida also has an important health issue to address in the front court, with forward Will Yeguete (knee) yet to be cleared medically. They’ll work in a pair of transfers (Dorian Finney-Smith and Demontre Harris), with the goal of relieving some of the pressure on senior center Patric Young. At full strength the Gators are likely the team best equipped to challenge preseason favorite Kentucky in the SEC. It’s just a matter of how long it will take them to reach that point.

Kennesaw State blows eight-point lead in 16 seconds, loses to Elon

Elon Athletics
Leave a comment

Kennesaw State entered Monday night at 1-6 on the season, but with 19 seconds left, it looked like the Owls have their second of the season locked up. Kendrick Ray made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to put KSU up 89-81, and all they had to do was avoid a complete meltdown to get out with a win.

They couldn’t.

A Luke Eddy layup with 16 seconds left cut the lead to six, and after KSU’s Nigel Pruitt missed two free throws, Dainan Swoope his a three with seven seconds left to make the score 89-86.

On the ensuing inbounds, Kennesaw State threw the ball away … and then proceeded to foul Eddy when he was shooting a three. This is what that disaster looked like:

Eddy would hit all three threes before, shockingly, KSU turned the ball over again. Elon could not capitalize this time, sending the game to overtime, where the Phoenix outscored the Owls 14-4.

Elon won 104-94.

Here’s what the comeback looked like on the play-by-play:

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 7.39.27 AM

Rick Pitino: Louisville ‘just ignored’ in top 25 due of scandal

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
1 Comment

Louisville beatdown Saint Louis at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, a 77-57 win that was much closer at halftime than the final score might indicate.

The win moved the Cardinals to 5-0 on the season, and that, in turn, got Louisville into the back end of both top 25 polls.

They’re 24th in the AP Poll and 22nd in the Coaches Poll, but that happened on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Pitino made sure to get a rant in about how this team is viewed and why pundits and voters should overlook the scandal currently plaguing his program.

“I think people are looking at that and they’re not really studying the team,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, adding that he thinks the team is “just ignored” because of the accusations leveled by self-described madam Katina Powell in the book she published back in October.

And here’s the thing: he is 100 percent correct. Louisville was overlooked in the preseason because the scandal, when combined with the fact that the Cardinals are integrating so many new pieces into their rotation, made it tough to see how they would be able to compete at a level that we’ve come to expect out of Louisville teams.

I know that because it’s why my colleagues at NBCSports.com, against my wishes, refused to allow me to rank Louisville in the preseason top 25. In other words, I’ve had first-hand interactions with the haters. But if we’re going to be honest here, scandal or no scandal, Louisville probably wasn’t going to find their way into the preseason top 25, not when they had to replace Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

And scandal or no scandal, no team from outside the top 25 is going to play their way into the top 25 by beating the likes of North Florida and St. Francis (NY) without some shenanigans — like Fred VanVleet getting hurt, like Indiana collapsing, like Arizona and Cal and Notre Dame playing their way out of the top 20 — happening around the country.

So Pitino is right: the scandal probably did have an impact on how his team was viewed in the preseason.

But Pitino the scandal isn’t what kept them out of the top 25 until Monday.

That weak non-conference schedule and roster turnover was why.

And if we’re going to be honest here, it probably should have kept them out for another week.