Lon Kruger

Report: Creighton and Oklahoma schedule home-and-home series

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It used to be that Creighton couldn’t get many quality non-conference games when the Bluejays were affiliated with the Valley. While everyone in the country knew that Creighton was talented and had an All-American in Doug McDermott, a power conference team losing to a Missouri Valley Conference program is never a good look.

But when Creighton moved to the Big East last season, they finally got some scheduling respect as Nebraska and Cal both traveled to Omaha for December non-conference road games. While Nebraska and Creighton’s series isn’t anything irregular, Cal was a major home-and-home series upgrade for Creighton over programs like Saint Joseph’s and UAB that Creighton had agreements with over the last few years.

The Bluejays continued the positive scheduling momentum on Monday as CBSSports.com’s Jon Rothstein reported that Creighton and Oklahoma would engage in a home-and-home series beginning next season in Omaha. The Sooners would get to host the Bluejays in Norman during the 2015-16 season.

It would have been nice to see a Creighton and Oklahoma game this season — with both teams making the 2014 NCAA Tournament — but at least these two power conference programs from the same region can alternate home settings for some good non-conference action the next few seasons.

Although McDermott has exhausted his eligibility, playing in Omaha is still no joke as the CenturyLink Center is one of the toughest places to play in the country. Getting a series like this one with Oklahoma is a positive step for Creighton to maintain it’s recent national prominence.

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?