Former player suing Holy Cross women’s head coach Bill Gibbons for abuse

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With the number of days between now and the start of games in college basketball, coaches and players across the country are working in order to make sure they’re well-prepared for the 2013-14 campaign. Practices, film study, weights and other essential activities occupy much of their time, with many wanting to simply focus on the task at hand.

Dealing with a lawsuit is an entirely different matter for a head coach and his/her program.

That’s what current Holy Cross women’s basketball head coach Bill Gibbons has on his plate, as a former player has filed a lawsuit alleging that the coach verbally, physically and emotionally abused members of the program during her two seasons at the Patriot League school. 20-year old Ashley Cooper, who now attends New York University, filed the suit in Manhattan alleging not only the abuse, but that the school ignored the allegations according to ABC News.

Gibbons’ “actions constitute the worst type of bullying because not only is defendant Gibbons her coach and supervisor, but also he is someone she is supposed to respect,” according to the lawsuit. Cooper was reduced to “fear of physical pain,” the filing states.

Cooper alleges that Gibbons also “struck another female player on the back” during a March 2013 Patriot League Tournament game against Lehigh. “Following the Lehigh incident, the player’s father verbally complained to” the athletic director, but the athletic director did nothing, Cooper alleges.

At one point, Gibbons — who would act in an “outrageous manner in his yelling, ranting, screaming and hysterics” — struck Cooper so hard he left a hand print that didn’t go away immediately, according to court papers.

In 29 seasons at the school Gibbons has amassed a record of 533 wins and 315 losses, making him the winningest coach in the history of the program. The school, which has brought in outside attorneys to review the allegations, issued the following statement to ABC News:

“The physical, mental and emotional well-being of our students is our highest priority at Holy Cross. We just received the lawsuit and are in the process of reviewing it. Ms. Cooper had brought her concern to the college and we investigated at that time. The lawsuit we received today includes a series of new allegations and we will now bring in outside counsel to review them.”

According to the roster on the school’s athletic website Gibbons is currently on leave. This is the second instance this month of a school being forced to deal with its’ women’s basketball coach being hit with allegations of abusive behavior. Georgetown head coach Keith Brown stepped down on October 10 after being placed on administrative leave due to allegations of “unprofessional conduct and inappropriate language” by some of his players.

In situations like these there’s always to short-term concerns regarding the well-being of the players and the team’s preparations for the upcoming season. But there’s also the long-term concern of the direction of the program, and how a coaching staff could possibly sell the program to recruits in light of these alleged actions.

How Holy Cross handles this lawsuit will impact the women’s basketball program well beyond the 2013-14 season.

Report: Swanigan to stay in draft

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Caleb Swanigan is leaving Purdue and staying in the NBA draft, according to reports.

The Boilermaker big man held as much sway on the college basketball landscape with his decision as nearly any player who declared for the draft without an agent. After a season in which he became a double-double machine and averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, Swanigan would have been one of – if not the – favorites for National Player of the Year while also making Purdue right at the top of the Big Ten with Michigan State.

Instead, he’ll reportedly end his collegiate career after a pair of seasons and one Sweet 16 appearance in West Lafayette. As a professional prospect, Swanigan is an interesting case. He was as productive of player as college basketball has seen in recent years as a sophomore, putting up 20-20 games with ridiculous consistency. He’s got some range, but limited quickness and athleticism. The question will be how his game – and frame – will translate into the new NBA that prioritizes versatility, shooting and athleticism. Right now, not many have him pegged as a sure-fire first-round pick.

The loss for Purdue is hard to overstate given just how good “Biggie” was. There’s just no replacing that type of production in the lineup. Still, Matt Painter and the Boilermakers still have an intriguing group, with Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards both electing to return to school after dipping their toes in the NBA waters. There’s some other intriguing young pieces there that will keep Purdue interesting in the Big Ten race.

Florida State picks up late commit from McDonald’s All-American

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The losses sustained by Florida State have been numerous and significant. Three players declared early for the NBA Draft. Another two contributors were lost to graduation. All in all, the Seminoles haven’t had the greatest of springs.

Wednesday, though, they got some good news.

McDonald’s All-American wing M.J. Walker committed Leonard Hamilton’s program to give Florida State a late, and important, addition to its 2017 recruiting class, beating the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard, gives the Seminoles yet another five-star prospect after landing Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac in the last two recruiting classes. Walker will help Hamilton and Co. reboot after both Bacon and Isaac, along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, all left school to pursue professional careers after the Seminoles’ 26-9 season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker becomes the sixth member of Hamilton’s 2017 recruiting class that was previously headlined by four-star 7-footer Ikechukwu Obiagu. That group will be tasked to retool a team losing not only major NBA-level talent, but also major production. The Seminoles won’t return a single player who averaged double-digit points per-game last year and just one who played at least 20 minutes per night.

Michigan returns Mo Wagner, loses D.J. Wilson

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The best-case scenario did not take place for Michigan this week.

The Wolverines waited for four weeks to hear back from their pair of mobile big men, and the news on Mo Wagner was positive. The 6-foot-10 junior from Germany announced on Wednesday that he will return to school after testing the NBA Draft waters.

The news was not as fortunate with D.J. Wilson, who announced less than ten hours before the deadline that he will be signing with an agent and turning pro. Wilson is projected as a late first round or early second round pick.

Without Wilson in the fold, Michigan lacks some front court depth, which will probably be enough to keep them out of the preseason top 25.

Gonzaga to return Johnathan Williams III

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Losing Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins to the professional ranks probably torpedoed Gonzaga’s chance of making another run to the NCAA tournament national title game, but after Johnathan Williams III announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to school and withdrawing from the NBA Draft, Gonzaga does appear to be a favorite to win the WCC title again.

Williams is now Gonzaga’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, anchoring a front court that also loses Przemek Karnowski to graduation. He was expected to go undrafted.

With Williams back in the fold, the Zags should be right there with Saint Mary’s in the race for the WCC title. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson and Killian Tillie all return as well.

ESPN was the first to report the news.

Injured Gamecocks point guard Blanton gives up basketball

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina guard TeMarcus Blanton is giving up basketball after struggling with a serious hip injury he suffered before his freshman season.

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin says Blanton told him he could not get his body to respond to a level that would allow him to continue playing basketball. Blanton is a 6-foot-5 junior from Locust Grove, Georgia, who hurt his hip during preseason for the 2014-15 season. He needed surgery and could not return to the court until his sophomore year.

Blanton played in 29 games, averaging 1.4 points a game.

He said on social media he is grateful to his coaches, teammates and South Carolina fans, “but my journey of basketball has come to an end.”

Blanton received a medical exemption from the Southeastern Conference to remain part of the Gamecocks’ program moving forward.