Joe Harris

New Year’s Resolutions: Virginia Cavaliers

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Over the course of the holiday week, we at College Basketball Talk will be detailing what we believe will be the New Year’s Resolutions of some of the nation’s most talented, most disappointing, and thoroughly enigmatic teams. What can we say, we’re in a giving mood.

Who else made Resolutions? Click here to find out.

WHAT DOES VIRGINIA PROMISE TO DO MORE OF?: Get Joe Harris some more looks

  • Why it will happen: In the preseason, Joe Harris was in the ACC Player of the Year conversation, though , through a dozen games this season his points per game is down five points. Harris has also seen a significant dip in his free throw shooting – the team is down from the line as well, at 65 percent – and so far, Harris is attempting less than eight shots per game. Harris is one of the best scoring options in the ACC. The Cavaliers can defend, and can slow down the game, but they’ll need Harris to put up some more points in the New Year.
  • Why it won’t happen: Like mentioned in the last sentence, Virginia plays at slow pace. With the limited number of possessions, and as the Cavaliers have a current turnover percentage of 20.6 percent, according to, there are less opportunities to get Harris more looks.

WHAT DOES VIRGINIA SWEAR THEY WILL DO LESS OF?: Trying to figure out its lineup/rotation

  • Why it will happen: Virginia entered the year with high expectations after winning 23 games a season ago. The Cavaliers have dropped games to VCU, Wisconsin – both at home – while being upset by Green Bay three days after losing to the Badgers. Tony Bennett, even after a two-week layoff, is still tinkering with his roster. He’s talked about shortening it, he’s talked about going 10, 11 guys and in Monday’s win over Norfolk State, Bennett had Akil Mitchell come off the bench. Virginia has a talented and deep roster. It’s only a matter of time before Bennett finds a lineup that works with this team.
  • Why it won’t happen: Virginia has other issues to deal with besides the team’s chemistry. How can the Cavaliers fix those problems when they can’t even have a consistent starting five, or rotation? With conference play looming, UVA is still looking for a marquee win after dropping its best non-conference games to VCU and Wisconsin. They may be talented and deep, but they will to match that with chemistry if they want to contend in the ACC.

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?