Manhattan, George Beamon defeat Canisius in critical MAAC game

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Just when it looked like Canisius and Iona were about to make the MAAC a two team race at the top of the conference standings, Manhattan delivered a statement win in Buffalo tonight as they beat Canisius, 84-73.

The Jaspers entered the game reeling having lost three of their last five games, dropping them to 8-4 in the MAAC — two games behind both Canisius and Iona. Their leading scorer and top player, George Beamon, had been struggling to relocate his scoring groove that he was in prior to injuring his shoulder and missing three games. Beamon was averaging just 13 points since his return against Rider on January 24th.

Tonight in Buffalo, however, the George Beamon of old emerged, and Manhattan looked like the team that began the season 13-3. Beamon out-shined Canisius’ star Billy Baron, pouring in 27 points on 9-22 FG, 5-9 3PT.

It was clear from the outset Baron was going to have to work for his points. The Jaspers began the game on a 15-1 run, and Baron didn’t take his first shot until the 9:45 mark of the opening half. Tonight, the MAAC’s top defensive team kept one of the best offensive teams at bay.

That’s impressive.

While the Golden Griffins made a run, cutting it to 32-30 with 5:15 remaining in the opening half as Baron began to heat up, they were never able to take the lead. Manhattan extended the advantage to 47-35 at halftime, and fended off every run Canisius made in the second half.

Baron, who is one of the best and most efficient offensive players in the country, had to work for every one of his 22 points — credit RaShawn Stores for making life difficult for Baron all night.

Manhattan still trails their rival Iona by two games in the MAAC, but with Beamon looking like he is back at full-strength and the Jaspers hosting the Gaels later in the season, one would be foolish to count Steve Masiello’s group out in the race for the regular season MAAC title.

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?