If performances in these early-season events are any indication of what to expect when conference play rolls around in January, the Atlantic 10 is in for a fun regular season race.
UMass won the Charleston Classic on Sunday (despite two losses in San Juan, VCU will be fine), and Dayton capped a good three days in Maui with a thorough 80-62 beating of California in the third-place game of the Maui Invitational. Dayton (6-1) was the tougher team, and by the end of the game it was clear that they were the better team as well with four players scoring in double figures.
Devin Oliver tallied 21 points to lead the way, with Jalen Robinson added 17 points and five rebounds off the bench. Dayton’s balance has been a strength thus far, and that was once again the case on Wednesday night. Entering Wednesday four players were averaging double figures, with Ohio State transfer Jordan Sibert leading the way with an average of 16.3 points per game. He was kept quiet by Cal, shooting 1-for-7 from the field and finishing with just three points.
But it didn’t matter, with guards Vee Sanford (14 points, three assists) and Kyle Davis (12 points) both stepping up. And despite scoring just two points, freshman Scoochie Smith dished out three assists and grabbed four rebounds on the night. If there are any two stats that illustrates the depth advantage Dayton enjoyed with Cal (5-2) missing starting center Richard Solomon (eye abrasion) it would be points in the paint and bench points.
Dayton outscored Cal 48-26 in the paint, and its reserves outscored Cal’s by a 52-8 margin (Jordan Mathews scored all eight bench points for Cal). The number of options at head coach Archie Miller’s disposal were on full display Wednesday night, and that bodes well down the line for a team that was picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic 10.
“Our bench was a big part of today’s game,” noted Robinson. “Last night Coach told us just to be ready and our depth would take us a long way. Everybody who came in off the bench came in and was very productive and played together as a team.”
Although the fact that Dayton was one made shot against Baylor away from playing in the title game of the Maui Invitational may sting a bit, that shouldn’t take away from the progress made by the Flyers this week in wins over Cal and No. 11 Gonzaga. If Dayton can build on their play against the toughest competition on their schedule to date, they’re more than capable of exceeding those preseason expectations.
UCF junior big man Tacko Fall will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, it was announced on Saturday.
College basketball’s tallest athlete at 7-foot-6, Fall is UCF’s leading scorer and shot blocker while being second in the nation in field goal percentage at 76 percent. Putting up 11.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in only 21.3 minutes per contest, Fall is the most unique weapon on both ends of the floor in the college basketball.
Fall is expected to have surgery on his ailing shoulder later this week as he suffered an injury over the summer that never fully recovered. Fall has also dealt with a hip injury that forced him to miss time during the season.
The Knights have been crushed with injuries this season. Aubrey Dawkins suffered a season-ending shoulder injury before the season started and promising point guard B.J. Taylor missed over two months with a foot injury suffered during the season opener against Mercer.
UCF is still having a solid season at 12-6 and 3-3 in the American but they’ll need to forge on without its big man. They’ve also lost two consecutive games and need to figure things out in a hurry to earn a spot in the postseason.
The Atlantic 10 comes to NBCSN and the NBC Sports app on Saturday with three games that will air as part of a tripleheader.
It starts with George Washington at VCU at 12:30 p.m., continues with La Salle playing at Richmond at 2:30 p.m. and concludes with George Mason traveling to Duquesne at 4:30 p.m.
CLICK HERE to watch the Atlantic 10 on NBCSN
A messy situation could be unfolding at Saint Louis University as a sexual assault investigation involving the men’s basketball team is coming more into public focus.
Saint Louis is a private school who is going through a Title IX investigation and there hasn’t been a lot of publicity surrounding the case. Back in September, three women told police they were sexually assaulted by four members of the Saint Louis men’s basketball team at an on-campus apartment.
A lawyer for three of the four accused players is claiming that his clients committed no crime. Lawyer Scott Rosenblum spoke to Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, giving the players’ account of what happened that night in graphic detail. Rosenblum said his clients have received suspensions ranging from 18 months to two years and a fourth player was expelled.
According to Rosenblum, his clients don’t intend to stay silent as they are considering an appeal. Legal action against Saint Louis University has also been discussed.
“At the end of the day, on every college campus, unfortunately, both genders make decisions that after they walk away from that decision, they regret,” Rosenblum said to Frederickson. “They think, this maybe wasn’t the best decision. But it wasn’t a crime. And it wasn’t actionable.”
Rosenblum also claimed that Saint Louis has, “overly prosecuted with an agenda from the beginning,” as he posed several questions about the case.
One of the accused players had been allowed to play at Saint Louis while three others were held out, according to Rosenblum. The three players held out of games were also allowed to practice and travel with the team. Players were also told to move off campus, eventually welcomed back, then forced to move off campus once again. Suspensions were also handed out weeks into the new semester instead of the break between semesters.
Rosenblum’s remarks about the investigation are the most public details to come out about this investigation as Saint Louis University officials have remained silent throughout the process.
The Air Force Academy has been forced to cancel all home and away games due to the government shutdown, the school announced on Saturday.
Announcing on the official Air Force Academy Twitter page, the school will attempt to reschedule as many missed events as possible.
Canceled games include a home men’s basketball game against Fresno State on Saturday and a home hockey game against Sacred Heart. According to a report from the Colorado Springs Gazette, the women’s basketball team is in Fresno, Calif., for a road game against Fresno State, but that game will also not be played.
This is an unprecedented measure for the Air Force Academy as they’ve been able to play through government shutdowns before. In 2013, the USAA gave a $230,000 check to help Air Force football travel to Navy for its game. Government shutdowns in the 1990s also never forced the cancellation of any major Air Force games in the past.
A source told NBC Sports that Army’s athletic department has not been affected as it is privately funded. Navy’s athletic department should also be able to operate and continue under the government shutdown since they are privately funded.
Without private sponsors helping, it looks like Air Force won’t be playing until the government shutdown is over. The Gazette also reported on Saturday that Air Force athletic officials knew that this could be a possibility and said it would be an “11th hour decision.”
Air Force men’s basketball is 8-10 with a 2-4 record in the Mountain West this season. While the Falcons haven’t been a major contender, they had the momentum of a small two-game winning streak heading into Saturday’s home game against Fresno State.
The Falcons are also scheduled to play on the road at Utah State on Wednesday and host Boise State next Saturday.
Billy Preston has signed with BC Igokea, a Bosnian professional team, according to a release put out by the club on Saturday.
“We are thrilled to welcome Billy Preston to our club,” the statement read. “We were watching his situation closely and reached out to his family to show interest and ultimately reached an agreement with the family attorney in California on a contract for the rest of the season. We know Billy is an NBA prospect so we will do our best to continue his development to help him excel for our club and fulfill his goal which is to be an NBA star in the near future.”
“Billy Preston is foregoing his eligibility to play at Kansas and has signed with a professional team in Bosnia,” head coach Bill Self said in a statement provided to NBC Sports. “Billy’s family has been very upfront telling us that his first choice was to stay at Kansas, but with the uncertainty of the situation they needed to look at other potential options. This opportunity in Bosnia came with a deadline for a decision, and the family reached that decision Friday afternoon.”
“We are all disappointed that Billy never had the opportunity to experience college basketball competition but we certainly support him and wish him the best. Although he has been frustrated with the situation, Billy’s attitude has been tremendous and he has developed as a person and as a player. I’m sure that will continue as he prepares for his professional career.”
Igokea’s roster also includes former UCLA guard Malcolm Lee, former Oregon and UTEP guard Dominic Artis and Katin Reinhardt, who played at UNLV, USC and Marquette.
Preston had enrolled at Kansas as a freshman this season, but he was involved in a car accident prior to the start of the season. He was held out from competition as the school attempted to find out who was paying for the vehicle.