Lexington mayor Jim Gray suspends plans to renovate Rupp Arena

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In February, Lexington mayor Jim Gray announced that Rupp Arena, the off-campus home of the University of Kentucky basketball program, would be undergoing much-needed renovations estimated to cost some $310 million. The hope at the time was to begin the project in 2015 with renovations being completed in 2017, provided financing and other aspects of the deal were properly taken care of.

Apparently that hasn’t happened, and as a result Mayor Gray announced Wednesday that the project has been suspended. Gray and University of Kentucky president Eli Capilouto were unable to reach common ground on some issues regarding the project, including what all would be done, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

“He didn’t feel like the public had the appetite for the project right now,” Gray told The Courier-Journal, “and he could do with less of a project. He said the bleacher seats in the upper arena are fine. He didn’t think adding suites was a priority. He was talking about a proposal where the university would commit 10-15 percent of the original commitment, which would mean the scope of the project would change completely.”

Wednesday’s news is the latest step backward for the project, with the request for funding from the state denied by the Kentucky General Assembly and Capilouto also criticizing the multiple changes in financing back in May. Kentucky’s lease at Rupp Arena runs through the 2017-18 season, so there’s still time to straighten things out. But this is clearly something both parties need to address.

Kentucky has called Rupp Arena home since the 1976-77 season, and they’ve lead the nation in attendance (fans per game) in 17 of the last 19 seasons. Syracuse took over the top spot in 2013-14, averaging 26,253 fans per game to Kentucky’s 22,964.

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

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.