Through 16 games entering Friday night’s important Horizon League tilt at Wright State, Brian Wardle’s Green Bay Phoenix have been one of the league’s best offensive teams. Green Bay entered the game ranked second in the conference in scoring (78.9 ppg) and field goal percentage (48.1%), with guard Keifer Sykes and center Alec Brown being two of the key reasons why.
And that was once again the case on Friday night, as Brown (24 points, five rebounds) and Sykes (18, seven assists and six rebounds) led four Phoenix in double figures in Green Bay’s 79-69 victory. Greg Mays added 14 points and seven rebounds and Jordan Fouse scored ten points for Green Bay, which remains undefeated in conference play.
As a team the Phoenix were solid offensively, taking smart shots and that paid off as they shot 59.6% on the night. And when they didn’t attempt shots Green Bay got to the foul line, making 21 of their 26 attempts while shooting just four three-pointers (making two). If there’s one issue with Green Bay’s offensive performance it would be the 15 turnovers, more than two above their season average (12.4). However due to what the Phoenix were able to do when they took care of the basketball, those turnovers didn’t have the impact that they could have in the end.
Reggie Arceneaux scored 17 points to lead five Wright State players in double figures, but with the defeat they fall two games behind Green Bay in the loss column atop the Horizon League standings. And the separation gained by Green Bay is important given the league’s conference tournament setup. The top two seeds receive byes to the semifinals, with the top seed hosting the quarterfinals and semis and the title game being played on the home floor of the highest remaining seed.
Green Bay still has 12 Horizon League games to play, but with a 4-0 record (14-3 overall) and a two-game lead on the field (in the loss column) they took a step in the right direction on Friday night. And given the nature of conference tournaments in smaller leagues, it never hurts to have those games on your home floor.
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 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?