Syracuse Tyler Ennis

Tyler Ennis downplays Jim Boeheim’s critical remarks on NBA Draft decision

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CHICAGO — Much has been made of Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim being critical of his own players after they make a decision to enter the NBA Draft early.

After a tremendous freshman season as the Orange’s starting point guard, Tyler Ennis became the latest former Syracuse player to leave for the NBA Draft after appearing in the lottery of multiple mock drafts.

Despite those promising projections for Ennis, Boeheim went on SportsCenter in April and made some critical remarks about his starting point guard and how he wasn’t fully prepared to join the professional ranks.

“I think he is a great college player, but I think physically he could have used another year,” Boeheim said on SportsCenter. “I think when you get to the NBA, you need to be as physically ready as you can be, so I think Tyler could have benefited from another year, but certainly he is a tremendous player and a very smart point guard.

“I think point guard is probably the hardest position to break into in the NBA … but he has the skill set to be able to do that … it’s just a question of landing in the right place.”

But during last week’s NBA Draft Combine at Quest Multisports in Chicago, Ennis downplayed his former head coach’s remarks and he told NBCSports.com that he viewed Boeheim’s take in a different way.

“That situation, I think the media and the outside people that really don’t know the situation kind of got a different angle than (the players) did,” Ennis told NBCSports.com. “Even through my decision to enter the draft, I sat down with coach a few times and talked to him. And even to this day we’re able to speak and be on the same page. We’re both loyal people, we have a good relationship and he just wants what is best for me.”

It’s not surprising to see Ennis downplay Boeheim’s remarks because he’s probably used to his former coach bringing a certain dose of truth into the equation. Ennis has probably heard plenty of critical remarks from Boeheim in practice, during games and in film sessions so this is likely nothing new for him.

Those kinds of remarks from Boeheim rub certain people the wrong way because it looks like he’s putting the Syracuse program’s interests above the interests of his individual players, but I’m sure his players don’t think much of it after playing for him and hearing it straight from him all season.

As for the NBA Draft process, Ennis is viewing the proceedings much like he did when he entered Syracuse last fall — as an underdog.

“It’s been great and it’s been a journey but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. As an underdog, I had a lot to work for and I had to impress a lot of people and that’s what I’ve had to do my whole career,” Ennis said. “That’s what kept me motivated (entering college) and going through this (NBA Draft) process, I’m going through the same thing. I’m just finding ways to keep myself motivated and I know going to the next level won’t be easy. So even after this process of being drafted, I have a lot of work ahead of me.”

Much has been made about Ennis playing in Syracuse’s 2-3 zone throughout the season, as many basketball analysts question the point guard’s ability to defend in the more man-to-man focused NBA. Ennis believes he’ll be fine on the defensive end at the next level.

“I think my defense is going to surprise a lot of people,” Ennis said. “At Syracuse people question the defensive end (because of the 2-3 zone). I think through workouts and when teams watch me defend I think I’ll surprise a lot of people on the defensive end.”

Ennis averaged 12.9 points, 5.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game during his freshman season at Syracuse.

Maryland big man Michal Cekovsky out for the season

COLLEGE PARK, MD - NOVEMBER 20: Michal Cekovsky #15 of the Maryland Terrapins is defended by Zedric Sadler #2 of the Rider Broncs during the first half at Xfinity Center on November 20, 2015 in College Park, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Maryland big man Michal Cekovsky will be out for the rest of the season with a fractured ankle, the school announced on Monday.

The 7-foot-1 junior went down with the injury late in the second half of Sunday’s loss to Wisconsin. He had recently rejoined the Terps’ rotation and had started to get more comfortable, scoring 10 points against the Badgers before leaving the game.

Cekovsky appeared in 17 games this season and averaged 7.6 points and 2.8 rebounds per game

“I feel badly for Ceko as he has endured a number of injuries throughout the season,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said in the release. “It felt like he was really starting to turn the corner and his best basketball was ahead of him. We anticipate a full recovery for next season and we will be there to support him through the rehabilitation process.”

Without Cekovsky in the lineup, more pressure will be put on Damonte Dodd to stay out of foul trouble while staying productive. Sophomore Ivan Bender also figures to see more minutes now as he has already seen double-figure minutes off the bench for the Terps the last three games.

This loss will hurt Maryland’s frontcourt depth but they should still be able to withstand this injury with the firepower they have on the perimeter. Junior Melo Trimble is still playing fantastic ball while the team’s freshmen have also been solid for most of the season.

Maryland finishes the regular season with three out of four games at home as the one road game comes at Rutgers.

VIDEO: Jim Boeheim isn’t pleased when asked by reporter if Syracuse is ‘impatient’

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 02:  Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange reacts in the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at NRG Stadium on April 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Jim Boeheim has never been a man that’s shied away from saying what he feels, even if that results in him going after a reporter during a press conference.

On Sunday night, Boeheim did just that, when he was clearly unhappy about being asked whether or not his team was ‘impatient’:

Boeheim had reason to be upset beyond that particular line of questioning: Not only did his team lose a tough road game thanks to a pretty bad call in the final 20 seconds, but that loss might be what costs them a spot in the NCAA tournament.

With Demarcus Cousins in New Orleans, it’s time for John Calipari-to-the-NBA to heat up

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With Demarcus Cousins ending up on New Orleans – I hesitate to call that fleecing a “trade” – to join forces with another former Kentucky Wildcat, it only makes sense for the dots to get connected: John Calipari to the Pelicans!

Dan Patrick didn’t waste any time diving right in on Monday morning, opening his interview with Coach Cal with: “Can I have permission to start a rumor about you?”

Before Patrick even had a chance to define said rumor, Cal hit him with a, “Not. Happening.” He doubled down on his denials later on that morning by telling a teleconference of reporters, “that’s not going to happen.”

This is what Cal has to say. When you’re the head coach at Kentucky, an incredibly high-paying job and arguably the best in the college basketball business, you cannot be publicly campaigning for another position, even if it is an NBA gig with two of the league’s top 12 players. And while Cal isn’t exactly forthcoming when it comes to what he reveals in the media – his name gets mentioned with an NBA job roughly every six months, and he has the same answer every time – I think I believe him here.

Why?

Because I don’t think he gives up his lucrative seat as the celebrity overlord of college basketball for anything less than the perfect job: One where he can win immediately, avoiding the indignity of another NBA flameout like the one he had with the Nets 17 years ago, and one where he is given total and complete roster control. He wants to be the coach and the GM, and I’m not sure New Orleans is in a position where they would get rid of GM Dell Demps, who orchestrated The Fleecing Of Sacramento, or head coach Alvin Gentry, who was hired prior to the start of last season and could feasibly get this group back to the Playoffs this year, for a guy that last coached in the NBA in 1999 after getting fired 20 games into a season.

And all of that is before you consider that Cousins still needs to ink a long-term deal with New Orleans at some point for this theory to truly be viable, although finding a way to bring in Cal could certainly help Cousins make this decision.

I also get it.

Cal, better than anyone else since Cousins first touched a basketball, found a way to channel Cousins’ immense talents. If anyone can find a way to get Boogie to shed his baggage, it’s probably Cal. Then factor in the chance that he would find a way to be able to reel in, say, John Wall, and those are dots that are just screaming to be connected.

A Kentucky reunion in the Big Easy. Big Blue Nation would buy every ticket available at the Smoothie King Center. Who wouldn’t love that?

Maybe it happens. But at this point, I have a hard time seeing Coach Cal giving up his throne atop Lexington.

Coaches Poll: Gonzaga remains atop the top 25, Baylor and Virginia tumble

SPOKANE, WA - DECEMBER 10:  Head coach Mark Few of the Gonzaga Bulldogs reacts to a call in the second half of the game against the Akron Zips at McCarthey Athletic Center on December 10, 2016 in Spokane, Washington.  Gonzaga defeated Akron 61-43.  (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
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Once again, undefeated Gonzaga finds themselves sitting al alone atop the Coaches Poll. The Zags are also No. 1 in the NBC Sports top 25 and the AP Poll.

Villanova and Kansas are two and three again, while Arizona and UCLA round out the top five.

Here is the full poll:

1. Gonzaga
2. Villanva
3. Kansas
4. Arizona
5. UCLA
6. Louisville
7. Oregon
8. North Carolina
9. Baylor
10. Kentucky
11. Duke
12. Florida
13. West Virginia
14. Purdue
15. Wisconsin
16. Cincinnati
17.Notre Dame
18. Saint Mary’s
19. Virginia
20. Florida State
21. SMU
22. Butler
23. Creighton
24. Maryland
25. Wichita State

AP Poll: Gonzaga remains No. 1, Baylor falls to No. 9

Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (5) reacts to a play against Texas in first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 74-64. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP)
Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP
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The Zags remained alone atop the AP Poll on Monday morning, amassing 59 of a possible 65 first-place votes.

Villanova remained at No. 2 and Kansas stayed steadfast at No. 3. Baylor dropped from fourth to ninth after a pair of losses, while Virginia went from 14th to 18th after losing to Duke and North Carolina in the same week.

Here is the entire poll:

1. Gonzaga (59 first-place votes)
2. Villanva (5)
3. Kansas (1)
4. Arizona
5. UCLA
6. Oregon
7. Louisville
8. North Carolina
9. Baylor
10. Duke
11. Kentucky
12. West Virginia
13. Florida
14. Purdue
15. Cincinnati
16. Wisconsin
17. SMU
18. Virginia
19. Florida State
20. Saint Mary’s
21. Notre Dame
22. Butler
23. Creighton
24. Maryland
25. Wichita State