MetroPCS Orange Bowl Classic

Florida State hands No. 22 UMass its first loss of the season

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Florida State dictated tempo and slowed down unbeaten No. 22 UMass and senior point guard Chaz Williams as the Seminoles held on for a 60-55 victory in the Orange Bowl Classic.

Despite a controversial ending that featured a missed foul call on a Cady Lalanne dunk that would have cut UMass’ deficit to a point with seconds left, Florida State held on by slowing down the tempo and limiting Chaz Williams. Lalanne was called for hanging on the rim and the basket was waved off by officials.

The Seminoles made it a point to slow down Williams (10 points, 4-for-14 shooting) any chance they could and it didn’t help that the 5-foot-9 senior point guard couldn’t buy a bucket down the stretch. Also credit Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton for throwing a zone at UMass after the Minutemen called a timeout with under a minute left, trailing by only a point, as it caused confusion for the UMass offense and led to a turnover.

Boris Bojanovsky (four points, three rebounds, four blocks) did a nice job defending the rim for Florida State near the end of the game and the Seminoles perimeter defense was solid for the whole game, as they limited the Minutemen to 1-of-15 shooting from beyond the arc in a game in which both teams struggled to produce points and get open looks.

Although Florida State will have a hard time scoring sometimes, their defense will keep them in most games and if they can slow the game down, dictate tempo, and get Aaron Thomas (game-high 18 points) or Ian Miller going they could be dangerous come tournament time. This Seminoles group is big and physical on the defensive end and can cause a lot of problems at the rim or on the perimeter.

UMass may have left the ranks of the unbeatens, but despite their poor outside shooting and Chaz Williams having an off-night, they had a chance to take the lead — and/or tie the game — multiple times in the final minute against a long, athletic and physical Florida State team, so they shouldn’t feel too down about the loss.

UMass has now showed in the non-conference portion of its schedule that it can play in any type of game with any type of opponent and still have a chance to win and that is the mark of a good team.

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?