The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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PC coach Ed Cooley has dropped 100 pounds as he strives to improve his health (Providence Journal)
At the end of last season Providence head coach Ed Cooley knew that something had to change. Weighing 344 pounds and with friends and family concerned about his health, Cooley changed his diet and underwent a medical procedure that has resulted in him losing 100 pounds to date. His goal: to get down to 225, which was his playing weight at Stonehill College.

Big East nostalgia in the air as No. 2 Syracuse tops St. John’s (Sports Illustrated)
Sunday’s meeting between the Orange and Red Storm brought back memories of the good old days for some, when the Big East existed without the influence of major college football. But even with those feelings being present, things aren’t the same.

Book on Illinois’ 1989 Final Four team interesting, controversial (Chicago Sun-Times)
Stephen Bardo, currently a color commentator for both the Big Ten Network and Fox Sports I, was also the starting point guard on the 1989 Final Four team at Illinois. Dubbed the “Flying Illini” due to their explosive style of play, that team is one of the best in school history. Bardo’s written a book on the experience, and some of the stories in the book have gained attention.

BYU-Utah rivalry alive and kicking (Salt Lake Tribune)
On Saturday night Utah made quite the statement within the Beehive State, soundly defeating BYU 81-64. And amidst talk of the rivalry possibly coming to an end soon, the atmosphere showed that the rivalry is still alive.

Former Georgetown forward Greg Whittington commits to Rutgers (Gannett New Jersey)
Rutgers picked up a key addition on Sunday as 6-foot-8 forward Greg Whittington made the decision to transfer to the school. Whittington was a member of the Georgetown program and sitting out the season due to a knee injury until being dismissed from the program a few weeks ago.

Illini can’t close in loss vs. Oregon (Chicago Sun-Times)
Illinois had a key victory away from home well within reach on Saturday night, but they were unable to seal the deal against No. 15 Oregon. That’s part of the process of a team that has multiple newcomers in the rotation and lacks a credible interior scoring threat. But they will be competitive.

Embiid rouses Kansas in 80-63 win over New Mexico (Kansas City Star)
While Andrew Wiggins has received much of the attention when Kansas’ crop of freshmen are discussed, he has a teammate in center Joel Embiid who’s shown significant amounts of both talent and upside. In the Jayhawks’ win over New Mexico on Saturday Embiid played a critical role in the outcome, and as the season wears on Bill Self’s going to have to give him even more minutes.

Jelling woes still linger for Kentucky’s young basketball team (Lexington Herald-Leader)
Kentucky’s loss at North Carolina on Saturday was simply the latest piece of evidence that the Wildcats have plenty of growing up to do both collectively and individually. Who are the leaders capable of bringing the players together? That’s a question the team has yet to answer, and until they do Kentucky won’t be able to reach its full potential.

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.