Marcus Paige, Chris Jones

The Secondary Break: Friday’s Links

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Paige lighting it up for North Carolina – at off-guard (Cedar Rapids Gazette)
One of the biggest keys in North Carolina’s improvement since their loss to Belmont has been the play of sophomore guard Marcus Paige. A highly regarded point guard out of high school, Paige has done the majority of his damage off the ball for a team whose best perimeter scorer (P.J. Hairston) sits on the bench in a suit. And with no one knowing when (or if) Hairston will return to the court, that may have to be the case for the Tar Heels to factor into the ACC and national conversations.

Louisville basketball’s Chris Jones described as a “living trophy” (Louisville Courier-Journal)
One of the most important pieces in the Louisville attack is junior college transfer Chris Jones, who’s averaging 14.5 points and 3.2 assists per game for the ninth-ranked Cardinals. But he may not be in the position he’s in now if not for the help of Melrose HS (Memphis) coach Jermaine Johnson.

UTEP coach Tim Floyd addresses, explains altercation with USC’s Andy Enfield (Knoxville News Sentinel)
Following the Miners’ 78-70 win over Tennessee on Thursday night UTEP head coach Tim Floyd was asked about the altercation between he and USC head coach Andy Enfield (and assistants from both programs).

College basketball teams take bigger bite of Big Apple (USA Today)
With the addition of the Barclays Center, college basketball has seen its presence within the city’s two major arenas grow in the last couple of seasons. In 2013-14, counting conference and NCAA/NIT tournament action the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden will host a total of 81 college basketball games. While this adds inventory for the facilities, New York also offers programs a stage you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else when considering factors such as media and recruiting.

Altercation with teammate during practice led to San Francisco PG Cody Doolin’s departure (San Francisco Chronicle)
Details are beginning to emerge regarding the circumstances surrounding the departure of San Francisco starting point guard Cody Doolin, and according to USF athletics director Scott Sidwell it was an altercation with an unnamed teammate that led to Doolin’s departure. Doolin will remain in school, as he’s scheduled to graduate with a degree in finance this spring.

Defense may hold key to season for No. 2 Kansas (Associated Press)
No. 2 Kansas has a number of offensive weapons to call upon, but if the Jayhawks are to win a national title they’ll have to get the job done on the defensive end as well. It certainly helps to have a freshman in Andrew Wiggins who takes pride in his ability as a defender, an area in which he feels a bit underrated.

Young Cats can’t count on intimidation, Raftery says (Lexington Herald-Leader)
The risk for many high-profile freshmen is that they step on the floor believing that their reputation and scholastic accolades will give them an edge over the opposition. Not to say that this has happened with No. 3 Kentucky, but it is something the Wildcats need to guard against according to Fox Sports color commentator Bill Raftery. Raftery will be on the call when the Wildcats take on Providence in Brooklyn on Sunday.

Friars know they need to improve on offensive end (Providence Journal)
As for Kentucky’s opponent on Sunday, Providence acknowledged that they’ve got some things to clean up on the offensive end after struggling in a loss to Maryland in the title game of the Paradise Jam. And with players such as guard Bryce Cotton and forward Kadeem Batts, the Friars have the talent needed to turn things around offensively.

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?