Sunday’s Pregame Shootaround: Syracuse and St. John’s battle in the Garden

1 Comment

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 2 Syracuse vs. St. John’s, noon (Fox Sports 1)

It’s an old school Big East battle inside Madison Square Garden. Sunday won’t get much better than that. The Johnnies are looking to defeated their in-state rival for the first time since 2007, and in the process earning a huge non-conference win. It won’t be easy for the Red Storm, as the Orange enter MSG unbeaten.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? La Salle over No. 10 Villanova, 2:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)

Villanova has skyrocketed up the rankings over the past few weeks since winning the Battle 4 Atlantis. In their first two Big 5 games, the Wildcats have breezed past Penn and St. Joseph’s. For the third straight game, Villanova goes head-to-head with a Philly rival. La Salle is just above .500 with a 5-4  record, but the Explorers are still a dangerous team.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Norfolk State vs. Boston University, 1 p.m.

The Terriers welcome the Spartans to Case Gym on Sunday afternoon in Boston. This game is part of a challenging portion of BU’s schedule. Since last Saturday, the Terriers have lost games to Harvard and George Washington. This afternoon BU plays host to the MEAC favorite, a team looking to add its eighth win of the year on the road against the Patriot League contender.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) Jordan Clarkson has been an impact transfer for Missouri leading them to a 9-0 record — with wins over West Virginia and UCLA this month — and has the Tigers in the top 25. Clarkson and Mizzou look to remain perfect in a game against MAC opponent Western Michigan, which has a talented guard of its own in David Brown.

2) Drexel and Davidson meet in a good mid-major matchup. Davidson put together another tough out-of-conference schedule. A win would go a long way, especially with games against North Carolina and Wichita State left on the non-conference schedule.

3) The Hall of Fame coach Herb Magee and his Division II Philadelphia University, make the trip to Chestnut Hill to play Boston College, a team in that has lost three straight.

4) UC Santa Barbara has already knocked off UNLV and Cal this season, while almost leaving Pauley Pavilion with an upset win over UCLA. The Gauchos should not be overlooked as they take on the San Diego (8-3).

5) Stony Brook, the favorite in the American East, begins conference play on Sunday against New Hampshire. Vermont, another contender in the American East, gets a good test with Quinnipiac.

THE TOP 25:

  • No. 2 Syracuse vs. St. John’s, noon (Fox Sports 1)
  • La Salle vs. No. 10 Villanova, 2:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
  • Western Michigan vs. No. 24 Missouri, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)

NOTABLES:

  • Philadelphia University vs. Boston College, noon
  • Manhattan vs. UNC-Wilmington, 2 p.m.
  • Stephen F. Austin vs. North Texas, 2 p.m.
  • Drexel vs. Davidson, 2 p.m.
  • Chicago State vs. DePaul, 4:30 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
  • UC Santa Barbara vs. San Diego, 5 p.m.
  • UC Irvine vs. Eastern Washington, 5:05 p.m.
  • Troy vs. Kansas State, 6 p.m.
  • Georgia Southern vs. UAB, 8 p.m.
  • Pepperdine vs. Washington State, 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
  • CSU Bakersfield vs. USC, 10 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)

Former Louisville standout Chris Jones shot in Memphis

AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Leave a comment

Former Louisville point guard Chris Jones was shot while playing basketball in his native Memphis on Tuesday night.

According to a report from FOX 13 in Memphis, shortly after 11 p.m. shots rang out on in Halle Park after an altercation on the court. Two people were taken to the hospital, one with a head injury stemming from a fight. The other was Jones, who was shot in the leg twice, according to the Courier-Journal. His injuries are not life-threatening and he has already been released from the hospital, according to Steve Forbes, his former Junior College coach.

Jones played at Melrose High in Memphis before spending two years at Northwest Florida Junior College and two more seasons at Louisville.

This past year, he spent time playing professionally in Greece and in France, although he played just a grand total of three games in the two leagues.

Perhaps the craziest part about this story is that Jones was shot on a court that is next to a police station. This is a screengrab from FOX 13’s live shot from the basketball courts, and you can see the police cars in the station’s parking lot in the back ground:

Preaching patience, new Pitt AD says hoops program “a complete rebuild”

AP Photo/Athens Banner-Herald, AJ Reynolds
1 Comment

Things did not go particularly well for Kevin Stallings in his first year at Pitt. The program, which essentially pushed Jamie Dixon out the door for being consistently good but not often enough great, struggled, going 16-17 overall and 4-14 in the ACC, just two games out of the cellar.

On top of that, six players prematurely left the program this spring.

Not great, especially when you’ve got a new boss that didn’t hire you, as is the case for Stallings with new Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke, who came aboard in March. In her first meeting with Stallings, Lyke asked a rather blunt question.

“Do you want to be here?” according to the Beaver County Times.

Stallings answered that he did, and his new athletic director would appear to be willing to give her predecessor’s hire time to reclaim and rebuild the program.

“It’s a steep climb, if you will,” Lyke said. “It’s not something that’s going to come easy and it takes an incredible amount of work.”

Stallings’ personal reputation took a significant amount of damage this spring when he attempted to block Cameron Johnson from an intra-ACC transfer to North Carolina. NBC Sports’ Scott Phillips called him a “town-deaf clown” in his attempt to keep Johnson from being a Tar Heel, a position he later relinquished, allowing Johnson to head to Chapel Hill.

Losing Johnson certainly won’t help Stallings and the Panthers recover from the difficult first season. Pitt didn’t hit any grand-slams in recruiting but is adding four-star guard Marcus Carr in its 2017 class.

The immediate outlook doesn’t look particularly bright, but Pitt appears to be positioning itself to exhibit some patience.

“If you look at the team, it is a complete rebuild,” Lyke said. “So I do think that (Stallings) is going to need a little time to develop it.

“But, we’ve got to be headed in the right direction. There’s some things that have got to get better and noticeable improvements. I’ve already seen those things start to happen.”

 

Miller Time: Indiana coach cashes in with $24 million deal

Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
1 Comment

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — New Indiana coach Archie Miller will make $24 million under his seven-year deal — and potentially even more in bonuses.

Miller accepted the job in March, but the athletic department didn’t announce details of the contract until Tuesday.

He will receive a base salary of $550,000 per year and $1 million in deferred income each season. Miller also will receive an additional $1.85 million in outside marketing and promotional income — and will get a $50,000 per year raise each year through March 2024.

Miller can earn a $250,000 bonus for winning a national championship. He can earn an additional $125,000 for a Big Ten regular-season title, reaching the Final Four and producing multiyear Academic Progress Rate scores over 950.

Utah, BYU rivalry back on after one-year hiatus

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley
1 Comment

The BYU-Utah annual rivalry series will be back on this season after taking a one-year hiatus last year.

For just the second time since 1909, the Utes and the Cougars did not play in 2016-17 after Utah head coach Larry Kyrstkowiak asked for a one-year cooling off period stemming from an intense and emotional game against BYU in 2015-16. In that game, then-freshman Nick Emery was ejected as a result of this punch that he threw:

The last time those two teams did not play was due to World War II.

The game will be played at BYU on Dec. 16th.

Utah will also play Utah State this season, the first time that they have played the Aggies since 2011.

 

California bans state-funded travel to eight states; does it affect college hoops?

Alex Wong/Getty Images
4 Comments

A new California law could end up causing a headache for the sports teams for public universities in the state.

Because of recently-added laws that are perceived as discriminatory against the LGBT community, California has now banned travel to eight states: Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota join a list that already includes Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The law states that contracts that were signed before Jan. 1st, 2017, are exempted and can be fulfilled, but there’s not guarantee that will be the case in the future.

“Moving forward, the athletic department will not schedule future games in states that fail to meet the standards established by the new law,” a UCLA spokesman told the Sacramento Bee. That said, the university does not use state funding for travel sports teams as it currently stands, and the goal of the law to avoid “spending taxpayer dollars in states that discriminate,” according to California’s Attorney General.

On the college basketball side of things, the biggest question mark here is whether or not this law will prevent teams from playing in the NCAA tournament if they are sent to a site in one of those eight states. Next season alone, there are first weekend sites in Kansas, Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee, not to mention the Final Four taking place in San Antonio. The location for many of those events were determined prior to January 1st.

“We are generally not going to deny student-athletes the opportunity to compete in the postseason,” a UCLA spokesman told NBC Sports.

The next question then becomes whether or not regular season travel will be allowed. Earlier this year, Cal dropped out of talks with Kansas about a potential home-and-home series due to this law, and if regular season travel is not allowed, it would mean that Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville and Wichita State, along with Kansas, are not allowed to be visited by California public schools that need state funding to travel. A request for a clarification on the legality of college sports teams traveling to those states has been filed with the Attorney General by Fresno State, whose football team is headed to Alabama for a game this year.

Travel for recruiting is also a question that needs to be answered, but at the highest level of the sport, that is typically funded by boosters.