The story of guard Bubu Palo at Iowa State is a long-winding one, with Palo joining the program as a walk-on and eventually doing enough to earn a scholarship. But Palo played in just 17 games last season due to a suspension that came as a result of his being charged with second-degree sexual assault in September 2012. The charges would be dropped, resulting in his rejoining the team in January and being allowed to play.
Given the amount of backcourt production lost from last season’s NCAA tournament team, there was a chance that Palo could earn more playing time during his senior season. Unfortunately for Palo the school dismissed him from the program in September 2013, and when his appeal of the decision was denied by the Iowa Board of Regents it seemed as if Palo would have no chance of rejoining the team.
However Palo took the case to court, and on Thursday a Webster County judge issued a temporary stay on the ruling banning Palo from the program. What does that mean? Palo can rejoin the basketball program, but ultimately the decision of whether or not he plays is up to Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg. According to Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune Hoiberg offered no comment on the situation other than to say that Palo won’t accompany the team on its trip to Texas.
Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard issued a brief statement on the matter, expressing his disappointment with the ruling.
“We are disappointed to learn of the district court judge’s decision to reinstate Bubu Palo to our basketball team,” Pollard said. “We believe the university should have the sole right and responsibility to determine any student’s participation in extracurricular activities at Iowa State University.”
So what’s next for the 14-2 Cyclones, who are coming off of a home loss to No. 18 Kansas and are faced with a difficult game at Texas on Saturday? At this point the team hasn’t spent much time focusing on Palo’s situation, although senior forward Melvin Ejim did say in the Ames Tribune article that “we’re excited to have Bubu back.”
Based upon Pollard’s statement the administration doesn’t seem as enthused, which will make for an interesting environment when Palo joins the team for practice on Monday.
It’s worth noting here that Derek Willis is not left-handed, yet he dunks this with his left hand.
No. 8 North Carolina knocked off Pitt on the road on Saturday afternoon, picking up an 85-67 win that clinched at least a share of the ACC regular season title for the Tar Heels this season.
It’s the second straight season and the eighth time in the 14 years that Roy Williams has been the head coach of the Tar Heels that they can make such a claim. For comparison’s sake, Mike Krzyzewski and Duke have won just three ACC regular season titles in those 14 years and they haven’t won one since 2010.
So this is a pretty good run that Roy Williams is on, and that’s before you consider the two national titles — plus a third national title game — that he’s won during that stretch.
And this year may be as impressive as any job that he’s done during his career.
This UNC team is different than past UNC teams in the sense that it’s the first time that one of his great teams doesn’t have a front line anchored by a future first round pick that is a killer on the block and a stallion running the floor in transition. There’s no Brice Johnson or Tyler Zeller or Tyler Hansbrough or Sean May. Joel Berry II is a really good college guard, but he’s not Kendall Marshall or Ray Felton or Ty Lawson, and his inconsistency is one of UNC’s bigger question marks heading into the tournament. Justin Jackson has turned into a killer this season, which is not something we would have said about Justin Jackson in any other year.
Put another way, this team is not a team that you can look at and know will be a title contender.
But they are.
They hold a two-game lead over an ACC that might get 10 teams into the NCAA tournament with two games left. If they win at Virginia next week, they will be playing for pride and for seeding when they take on Duke in the season finale.
I’d go as far as to say that the Tar Heels are as good, or better, than anyone in college basketball this season. They’ll probably end up as the No. 1 seed in the south and could very well make another run to the Final Four this season.
Considering just how good Williams has been throughout his career, and particularly during his tenure in Chapel Hill, you can understand what it means to say that this may very well be the best coaching job of his career.
Duke will be without star junior guard Grayson Allen on Saturday.
According to a report from Greg Gumbel of CBS Sports, Allen will miss the Blue Devils’ road game at Miami with an ankle injury.
The 6-foot-5 Allen is averaging 15.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game this season as he’s battled a few different injuries as well as getting suspended for another tripping incident. Duke is used to playing without Allen and the Blue Devils should still have enough to stay in this one against Miami but it is going to be a tough game to win on the road.
Duke is coming off of a road loss to Syracuse earlier this week as the No. 10 Blue Devils are trying to finish out a tough regular-season schedule these next three games.
Drake senior center Jacob Enevold received a special surprise on Saturday afternoon as his parents flew all the way from Denmark to surprise him for Senior Day.
The 7-foot-1 Enevold appeared perfectly content to take part in the Senior Day celebrations when his parents appeared on the floor and he ran to greet them.
Starting freshman guard De’Aaron Fox will be out for Kentucky on Saturday as the Wildcats host Florida in an important SEC showdown.
The 6-foot-3 Fox has a knee contusion, and without him, the Wildcats will start senior Mychael Mulder. Fox is averaging 15.5 points, 5.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game as he’s been one of the country’s best two-way freshmen this season.
Kentucky and Florida both enter Saturday’s game at 13-2 in SEC play but the Gators took the first matchup by 22 points between these two teams in Gainesville on Feb. 4.