The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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Former La Salle great Tom Gola passes away (Philadelphia Daily News)
On Sunday it was reported that Tom Gola, who led the La Salle Explorers to NCAA and NIT titles as a player, passed away at the age of 81. In four seasons at La Salle, Gola accounted for 2,461 points and 2,201 rebounds, with the rebounding total being a mark that likely won’t be reached again.

Ex-RMU coach Schmidt has transformed St. Bonaventure (
After putting Robert Morris in a position where they could eventually win the Northeast Conference and reach the NCAA tournament, Mark Schmidt accepted the position at St. Bonaventure with the Bonnies having gone 24-88 under Anthony Solomon. What Schmidt has done in Olean is turn the program in the right direction, even reaching the NCAA tournament in 2012.

Virginia Cavaliers on Emersonian win streak (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
With their blowout win over Virginia Tech on Saturday, Virginia moved to 6-1 in ACC play with all six wins being by double digits. Head coach Tony Bennett used the occasion to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson while addressing his players, noting that “a hero is not fed on sweets.”

Stony Brook’s Anthony Jackson embracing bench role (Big Apple Buckets)
Stony Brook is the lone remaining undefeated team in America East, and while players such as Jameel Warney and David Coley have been key pieces so has Anthony Jackson. Jackson, a senior guard, has been referred to as a “sixth starter” by head coach Steve Pikiell.

Pitt’s Lamar Patterson: Focus on performance, not Wooden snub (Sporting News)
One of the players surprisingly left off of the midseason Wooden Award list was Pittsburgh senior forward Lamar Patterson, who has been a key figure for a team that’s been among the best in the ACC. But that doesn’t concern Patterson, who’s focused on more important matters such as the team’s game against Duke on Monday night.

Seniors, upperclassmen share spotlight with superstar freshmen (USA Today)
The freshmen arrived on the scene amidst much fanfare, but as the season’s worn on a number of older players have stepped forward across the country. Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Syracuse’s C.J. Fair and UConn’s Shabazz Napier are just a couple of the players who have had major impacts on college basketball this season.

With less flash, Bluejay Brooks making a splash (Omaha World-Herald)
Creighton junior guard Devon Brooks has been an important addition for the Bluejays, especially with Grant Gibbs currently out of the lineup with a knee injury. But there was some fine-tuning to be done, as Brooks needed to remove some of the flash in order to become a more effective player.

California’s Justin Cobbs, Richard Solomon bring balance to court (Los Angeles Times)
While California’s trip to southern California didn’t go as planned, with the Golden Bears losing to both USC and UCLA, they’re still in a tie for second place with the Arizona schools visiting Berkeley this week. Two key players are point guard Justin Cobbs and power forward Richard Solomon, who have been friends since high school.

Coach Hamilton likes mix on Florida State basketball roster

ACC Basketball Tournament: Florida State v North Carolina
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State is the only team in the Atlantic Coast Conference that returns all five of its starters from last season.

For most teams that would be cause for celebration. For coach Leonard Hamilton it means he is hoping the struggles of the past two seasons have been valuable experience.

The Seminoles had their first practice on Wednesday as they are looking to bounce back from a season in which they went 17-16 and didn’t play in a postseason tournament for the first time in 10 years.

“We have five starters returning from a team that won 17 games. We have guys that have been around, who know their shortcomings and can pass on their wisdom to the younger players,” Hamilton said.

With an experienced roster and a highly regarded recruiting class, Hamilton is hoping to lead the Seminoles back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012, which is also the year they won the ACC Tournament.

Jarquez Smith, the leading returning scorer from last season, said the open gyms before the start of practice have been extremely competitive as the incoming recruiting class has tried to assert itself early.

“We’ve been going at each other’s neck and it has gotten very competitive,” Smith said. “Everyone is fighting for their position because the guys coming off the bench are just as athletic as who is on the court.”

The newcomers feature Dwayne Bacon (a McDonald’s All-American selection), Terance Mann (the Gatorade Player of the Year in New Hampshire) and Malik Beasley (the Georgia 1A Player of the Year). There’s also Chris Koumadje, who at 7-foot-4 will be the tallest player in school history, and Benji Bell, who helped lead Northwest Florida State to the JUCO National Title.

“This is a very confident and focused group of inexperienced players,” Hamilton said. “They want to make something special happen but aren’t taking anything for granted.”

Two things that Hamilton will look to work on during preseason practices is defense and figuring out his rotation. The Seminoles suffered from a lack of depth last season but this year he could have a roster that goes 10 deep and allows him to go to more of a full-court pressing style of defense.

Xavier Rahan-Mayes led the team in scoring last season, averaging 14.9 points en route to becoming the first freshman in ACC history to score 30 or more points three times. The one thing he said he noticed in preseason practices were that everyone played off each other’s strengths.

Florida State’s first exhibition game is Nov. 2 against Lynn University before opening the season on Nov. 15 against Nicholls State.

“I think we have a pretty good combination of experience and an influx of new players. Any time you have that type of scenario you appreciate it,” Hamilton said. “It looks like we have it moving in the right direction. We’ve had a good offseason and regrouped.”

Louisville president issues statement supporting AD Tom Jurich

James Ramsay Tom Jurich
Associated Press
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With it being reported earlier Wednesday that one-time Louisville commit JaQuan Lyle “confirmed the gist” of what was written about him in the new book “Breaking Cardinal Rules,” things have gotten even more serious for Rick Pitino’s program than anticipated when allegations of former staffer Andre McGee procuring prostitutes for players and recruits began to surface on Friday.

On Friday both Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich stated that they had no knowledge of the activities alleged by Katina Powell taking place (Powell stated that Pitino did know). But even if this is true, in the case of Pitino having NCAA rules violations occur while in charge of a program can lead to penalties even if there is no knowledge of wrongdoing.

Wednesday afternoon Louisville president James Ramsey issued a three-paragraph statement on the current investigation of the basketball program. But while he was clear in stating his support for Jurich during this period, no such statement was made when it came to Pitino. Below is the full statement.

“As was stated last week, when we learned of the allegations toward our men’s basketball team, we immediately hired Chuck Smrt of the Compliance Group to undertake a complete and thorough investigation of the alleged misconduct. Chuck advised us that we should also report these allegations to the NCAA so they could join our investigation.

“For the past 18 years, Tom Jurich has served as athletic director of an exemplary program at UofL. I fully support Tom as we work to identify the facts in this situation, and that is what we are doing. Tom and I are committed to the values that are fundamental to the success of Cardinal athletics.

“As I stated in the recent State of the University address, it is important that the university — all of us — stay focused on our day-to-day work of providing our outstanding students with a world-class education. The investigation of the allegations may take time and we must, as one university, continue doing the work we do to move our university and our community forward.”

Jurich has accomplished a great deal while serving as the school’s athletic director, and his work across all sports is arguably the biggest reason why Louisville finds itself in the ACC today. While showing confidence in his athletic director, Ramsey also appears to distance higher ups from what is alleged to have happened within the basketball program should the NCAA find enough evidence to levy sanctions.

Could that ultimately lead to the school parting ways with its head coach? It’s far too early to answer that question, but this statement gives Louisville some room to do so should the deem that to be the best course of action.

h/t CBS Sports