Trevor Releford

Alabama needs OT to dispatch of D-II team in exhibition

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Alabama’s season hasn’t exactly gotten off to an ideal start, as the Crimson Tide needed overtime to dispatch of Division II West Georgia in an exhibition game on Monday night.

Trevor Releford, who finished the game with 27 points but just a single assist, hit two free throws with a couple of seconds left on the clock to force the extra period. Alabama pulled away down the stretch, as the 65-64 final score was the result of an inconsequential, buzzer-beating three.

“To be honest with you, I feel like we had a lot of guys play out of character today,” coach Anthony Grant said. “First game in front of a crowd for some of our guys, we didn’t handle it well. We had some veterans that didn’t play like veterans today.

“Like I said, I think we’re better than that. We’ve got to look in the mirror to what we did and what we didn’t do. We just have to be better. With Oklahoma coming up on Friday, we can’t expect to have a chance to win if we go out and play like we played today.”

The Tide got pounded on the glass, giving up 22 offensive rebounds to a team that was outrebounded by Jacksonville State in an exhibition game earlier this month.

Exhibition games are really not all that big of a deal, as it’s the first chance that these teams are getting to play in real game situations. Playing in front of a sparse crowd in a game that doesn’t matter against a team you’ve never heard of isn’t exactly going to get these athletes fired up, either. Add in the fact that the coaching staff works through kinks and tries out different sets and different defenses to see what actually works, and there are times where you get results like this.

Alabama isn’t exactly considered a lock for the NCAA tournament this season, but make sure to always take results like this with a grain of salt.

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?