Joe Harris

For the second time in two weeks, Virginia runs Florida State off the court

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For the second time this season, Virginia jumped out to a big first half lead en route to a not-as-close-as-it-seems win over Florida State.

On Saturday afternoon, the Cavaliers took a 45-26 lead into halftime, knocking off the Seminoles 78-66 to move to 4-1 in the ACC. The win came just two weeks after the ‘Hoos went into Tallahassee and knocked off FSU 62-50 in a game where Joe Harris played all of two minutes after suffering what appeared to be a concussion.

Virginia all-but solidified themselves as a top four team in the ACC this season. They had some struggles early on, but since their embarrassing, 35-point loss at Tennessee on Dec. 30th, they have won four out of five games in 2014. All four wins came in dominating fashion, and their only loss was a 69-65 setback at Duke.

There is a reason that Tony Bennett’s club was picked to be a borderline top 25 team in the preseason, and it’s starting to show. The biggest reason why? Joe Harris is starting to play like the Joe Harris we saw last season, the guy that led Virginia in scoring and was an all-ACC player. In the last four games, Harris is averaging 15.0 points while shooting 52.8% from the floor and 57.9% from three.

With North Carolina struggling and Duke scuffling to start league play, the top of the ACC is wide-open. Syracuse is the favorite, clearly, and Pitt isn’t far behind them. But if Harris continues to play this way, and Virginia keeps beating up on the rest of the conference, this is a team to keep an eye on down the stretch of the season.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.

Albany’s Peter Hooley accepts Inspiration Award

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Last week, Albany senior Peter Hooley accepted the Inspiration Award at the Coaches vs Cancer Basket Ball in Troy, New York. The Albany athletic department uploaded his entire speech on Monday afternoon.

Hooley had one of the most uplifting moments of March after months and months of heartache.

The junior guard missed three weeks of the season to travel back home to Australia to be with his mother, who was battling colon cancer. She passed away in January. Hooley returned to the team in February and the following month, the Great Danes had a shot at an NCAA tournament berth. In the America East Tournament championship, Hooley sunk a game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds to go.

Hooley, who graduated in May, was selected to give the commencement speech.