The Secondary Break: Wednesday’s Links

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Moton stresses defense to MEAC-leading North Carolina Central (Durham Herald-Sun)
While No. 8 Duke is well on its way to a high seed in the NCAA tournament, they aren’t the only team in Durham that could wind up in the 68-team field next month. The other? That would be Levelle Moton’s North Carolina Central Eagles, who have used a blue collar approach to take over first place in the MEAC.

Toughest part of Syracuse basketball gauntlet begins in Pittsburgh (Syracuse Post-Standard)
No. 1 Syracuse is off to a 23-0 start, winning their first ten conference games as a member of the ACC. But things will get far more difficult down the stretch for the Orange, who play five of their final eight regular season games on the road beginning with tonight’s contest at No. 25 Pittsburgh.

There is NBA talent in the Big Ten, but more at Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana and Wisconsin than Ohio State (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)
Ohio State looked to be headed back in the right direction prior to Tuesday’s game against No. 15 Michigan. But the Wolverines left Columbus with an 80-70 victory, with the home standing Buckeyes once again struggling offensively. One of the reasons for the struggles: a lack of NBA-level talent according to this story.

Vaughn’s commitment makes future lineups very intriguing (Las Vegas Sun)
UNLV added another talented piece to its 2014 recruiting class on Tuesday night, as five-star shooting guard Rashad Vaughn verbally committed to the Mountain West school. With the players expected to return, along with that talented recruiting haul, Dave Rice won’t lack for lineup options next season.

Home crowds leave mark on college basketball games (San Francisco Chronicle)
There’s no denying the impact that fans can have on college basketball games, with the best being able to supply their team with the extra energy needed to win close games. But the impact can also be negative, and this past weekend there were examples of both.

College basketball’s preseason top 5 has been historically bad in 2013-14 (SB Nation)
It happens in most years. The preseason top five is announced, and some make the assumption that those programs will simply run through the season with few bumps in the road. Well that hasn’t happened this year, and the struggles of the 2013-14 preseason top five have been historic.

Are college basketball’s new rules helping or hurting the game? (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
The general thinking in regards to the new points of emphasis was that after an adjustment period teams and officials would adjust, ultimately resulting in better played games. Well that hasn’t happened in some cases, with conference play reverting back to the way things were. And predictably, coaches are still confused about it all.

DePaul basketball needs a complete makeover (Chicago Tribune)
Earlier this week it was announced that DePaul senior forward and leading scorer Cleveland Melvin was no longer enrolled in school, with this being the latest blow to a program that has struggled for years. The new Big East was supposed to provide a spark to programs like DePaul, but once again the Blue Demons find themselves at the bottom of the conference.

UR’s Anthony shifted into driver’s seat (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Richmond was hit hard by a personnel loss last week, with a torn meniscus in both of his knees ending Cedrick Lindsay’s senior season. The effect of this injury on the Spiders: Kendall Anthony had to take the reins as the team leader and primary scoring option.

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.