Daniel Martin

Orlando Sanchez

St. John’s Orlando Sanchez hires Shabazz Muhammad’s attorney to fight NCAA

Leave a comment

St. John’s forward Orlando Sanchez played a total of three minutes and thirty-eight seconds with the Dominican National Team in 2010 and, as the NCAA ruled in January, that is apparently enough to cost him his final year of college eligibility.

Sanchez, 24, was a highly touted and versatile forward prospect when he signed with St. John’s in April 2012, part of another strong recruiting class for coach Steve Lavin in Queens. He has since been forced to sit as his Red Storm teammates push for an NCAA tournament berth.

According to NCAA rules, a year of organized competition after the age of 21 counts as a year of eligibility. Thus, he had previously played two years at Monroe College and eight games with a Dominican amateur club team in 2009. That together makes three, plus the NCAA’s assertion that his time with the Dominican team would have used up his available eligibility.

From the New York Times:

If the rules are applied without flexibility, the ramifications can be harsh, said Jason Lanter, an assistant professor of psychology at Kutztown University and a former president of the Drake Group, an N.C.A.A. watchdog. “You are at the whims of the N.C.A.A.,” he said. “They are the judge, jury and executioner.”

St. John’s and Sanchez have now retained the legal counsel of Robert Orr, who was hired by UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad when he was accused by the NCAA of taking impermissible benefits and held out of competition earlier this season.

“Orlando is a thoughtful, humble and focused young man, who has worked diligently toward his goals,” Lavin said in a statement. “He has been successful as a student with a 3.48 GPA during his time at St. John’s, and has shown both promise and progress practicing as a member of our team throughout the year. Our University continues to work in concert with the NCAA as we have throughout the waiver and appeals process.”

If Sanchez’s case is reopened and he wins the appeal, the Red Storm have one open scholarship remaining. They are actively recruiting Philadelphia point guard Rysheed Jordan and senior forward God’sgift Achiuwa is redshirting this season.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Pregame Shootaround 2.23.13: Classic Syracuse-Georgetown Big East rivalry ends Saturday

Georgetown Syracuse
Leave a comment

Game of the Day: No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Georgetown (4:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

The story lines are not in short supply Saturday. No. 11 Georgetown and No. 8 Syracuse meet at the Carrier Dome for the final time as Big East members. The two teams are tied atop the conference standings. A record-breaking on-campus crowd is expected to be in attendance. The fire of the rivalry has been stoked by some inflammatory comments by Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams.

The spirit of Big East basketball, a spirit that so many have eulogized with the onset of conference realignment, will be showcased Saturday.

James Southerland has been a big boost to the Orange lineup since returning to the lineup, scoring in double digits in each of the four games he has played in and helping to extend defenses out toward the perimeter. Georgetown’s biggest obstacle will be avoiding the offensive woes that plagued it early in the season, those of which have mostly disappeared in the past 11 games.

Who’s Getting Upset?: Kentucky (-2) vs. Missouri (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

In two games without Nerlens Noel, Kentucky was blown out by Tennessee and came together as a team to beat Vanderbilt and avoid a bad loss. Against Missouri Saturday at home, the biggest concern will be in the backcourt and on the glass. Ryan Harrow and Archie Goodwin played well against Vanderbilt, but will be tested against Phil Pressey and Jabari Brown. If Harrow slips back into the slump we saw in his two games previous to that, when he went scoreless, it affects the rest of the offense for the Wildcats.

On the glass, Willie Cauley-Stein is now tabbed with picking up the slack without Noel. He had his biggest game of the year against Vanderbilt with 20 points and seven rebounds, but meets an experienced Alex Oriakhi in the frontcourt Saturday.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: No. 16 New Mexico vs. No. 22 Colorado State (4:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)

Simply put, Colorado State is tough to beat at home. The Rams have won 27 straight games at Moby Arena, good for the third-best active streak in the country. On Saturday, the battle begins down low. Colorado State is one of the best rebounding teams in the country, even owning a +18 rebounding margin in a loss to New Mexico earlier in the year. To combat that, New Mexico will need production from big man Alex Kirk, who had 17 points and 16 rebounds just two games ago against UNLV.

In the matchup earlier this season between these two teams, the Rams struggled with turnovers and shot just 37 percent from the floor, which contributed to the loss. On Saturday, that will mean getting guard Dorian Green more involved and efficient.

Five Things to Watch For

1) No. 9 Kansas suffered one of the ugliest losses of the season for any national title contender when they went on the road Feb. 6 and lost to TCU. Since that loss, the Jayhawks have two dominating wins and a hard-fought double OT victory over Oklahoma State. Expect Bill Self’s team to be back in stride on Saturday.

2) Arkansas blew out No. 5 Florida when the Gators traveled to Fayetteville on Feb. 5. The problem is, the Razorbacks are a different team on the road. They are 1-5 on the road in SEC play, as compared to 7-0 at home. Arkansas tips off in Gainesville at 7 p.m. ET.

3) Two of the best players in mid-major basketball and in the country as a whole face off Saturday when Doug McDermott and Creighton meet Matthew Dellavedova and Saint Mary’s. McDermott has the Bluejays back on the right track after a three-game losing streak, but Dellavedova and the Gaels will try to show what the second-best team in the WCC can do.

4) Villanova sits in the bubble conversations with a pair of big wins over Top 5 teams. The Wildcats would go a long way toward helping their NCAA tournament hopes if they could get a win over No. 17 Marquette at home on Saturday.

5) California got a big win over No. 23 Oregon on Thursday when Justin Cobbs hit a last-second jumper. That win put them squarely in the race for the top of the Pac-12. Nothing would be worse than following up that big victory with a letdown loss to Oregon State.

The Top 25

No. 2 Miami vs. Wake Forest (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

No. 3 Gonzaga vs. San Diego (7:00 p.m. ET, ROOT Sports)

No. 5 Florida vs. Arkansas (7:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Georgetown (4:00 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 9 Kansas vs. TCU (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

No. 10 Louisville vs. Seton Hall (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

No. 12 Arizona vs. Washington State (3:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net National)

No. 13 Kansas State vs. Texas (8:00 p.m. ET, Longhorn Network)

No. 14 Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 16 New Mexico vs. No. 22 Colorado State (4:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)

No. 17 Marquette vs. Villanova (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

No. 21 Memphis vs. Southern Miss (1:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Net National)

No. 23 Oregon vs. Stanford (8:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

No. 24 Virginia Commonwealth vs. Xavier (2:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

Other Notable Games

Iona vs. Indiana State (11:00 a.m. ET, ESPNU)

Canisius vs. Vermont (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Eastern Kentucky vs. Valparaiso (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Montana vs. Davidson (3:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

NC State vs. North Carolina (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Tennessee vs. Texas A&M (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

Detroit vs. Wichita State (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Baylor vs. Oklahoma (5:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Nevada vs. San Diego State (6:00 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network)

California vs. Oregon State (6:00 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)

Creighton vs. St. Mary’s (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Missouri vs. Kentucky (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Illinois State vs. Utah State (9:00 p.m. ET)

Ohio vs. Belmont (10:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Washington vs. Arizona State (11:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Late Night Snacks: Kansas survives, UNLV gets important win in MWC

Bill Self
Leave a comment

Game of the Day: No. 9 Kansas 68, No. 14 Oklahoma State 67

It was not one of the double-overtime games we’ve seen this season, but Naadir Tharpe’s late heroics made for an exciting ending. His runner in the lane put KU ahead by one and Oklahoma State could not convert on its final possession, giving the Jayhawks the win.

Kansas freshman Ben McLemore had one of his roughest games of the season with seven points on 3-of-12 shooting from the floor, but Tharpe’s confidence helped Kansas in overtime. Marcus Smart did not shoot well from the floor for Oklahoma State, but he still managed 16 points by getting to the free throw line and converting.

Important Outcomes

1. UNLV 61, No. 22 Colorado State 59

UNLV was fearless on the interior and got a much-needed win in the Mountain West. The key for the Rebels is to take smarter shots and becoming a more efficient offensive unit. As Rob Dauster writes in the link above, this is a step in the right direction, but UNLV must prove its ability to win on the road, too.

2. No. 18 Ohio State 71, Minnesota 45

Ohio State needed to stop its recent skid before moving into the final stretch of its Big Ten regular season schedule. A big night from Deshaun Thomas and a good overall defensive game made that happen. The loss raises legitimate concerns for Minnesota, too, a team that is turning the ball over far too often to have success right now.

3. Kentucky 74, Vanderbilt 70

Kentucky could not lose this game if it wanted to keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive. Thanks to Willie Cauley-Stein, improved backcourt play, and maybe even an intrasquad dodgeball game, the Wildcats pulled it out. Click the link above for the back-story on the dodgeball game.


1. Gonzaga’s Team Effort  (85 points, 58% FG, +21 rebounding margin)

The nation’s No. 3 team simply dominated Santa Clara on Wednesday night. The Bulldogs remain undefeated in WCC play and a legitimate force out West. Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk led the way with 17 and 15 points respectively.

2. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky (20 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks)

Without Nerlens Noel in the lineup, Kentucky got crushed by Tennessee over the weekend. Cauley-Stein wasn’t the only reason the Wildcats bounced back with a win over Vanderbilt, but his defense around the rim on the game’s final two possessions helped to seal the victory.

3. Nate Wolters, South Dakota State (32 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists)

Wolters already dropped 53 points earlier this season, but this performance was pretty impressive, too, coming just one assist away from a triple double. Oh, not to mention he also dropped 32 points.

Also of Note: Eric Mosley, St. Bonaventure (39 points, 12-of-18 FG)


1. Ben McLemore, Kansas (7 points, 3-of-12 FG)

McLemore did not look confident for much of Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma State, especially contrasted with guard Naadir Tharpe, who took control down the stretch. This was the first game of his college career that he had truly struggled, so we will learn a good deal about McLemore when we see how he bounces back.

2. Minnesota Offense (29% FG, 2-of-15 3pt FG, 21 turnovers)

Granted, Ohio State is one of the nation’s better defensive teams. That being said, though, Minnesota’s offensive output was abysmal. The Gophers turn the ball over too much and it will be one of the biggest threats to its NCAA tournament hopes.

3. Greg Smith, Colorado State (4 points, 1-of-7 FG)

Smith averages close to 12 points per game for the Rams, but managed just four on Wednesday vs. UNLV. In Colorado State’s two-point loss, they could have used him.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Naadir Tharpe is the hero as No. 9 Kansas downs No. 14 Oklahoma State in double OT

Leave a comment

Kansas’ biggest weapon down the stretch Wednesday night against No. 14 Oklahoma State should have been freshman Ben McLemore, a blossoming star who showed earlier in the season against Iowa State that he can take a big shot in the clutch.

But it wasn’t McLemore this time. In fact, McLemore took just three shots in the final 14+ minutes of regulation and two overtimes in the Jayhawks’ 68-67 win on the road in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday. He did not look confident with the ball on a number of possessions and the ball went elsewhere as a result. The question is, was that for the better?

Without McLemore as a go-to option, Naadir Tharpe took four shots in the overtime periods and only hit one. That one, though, was the most important. It was Kansas’ only field goal of the two five-minute extra periods and proved to be the game-winner with 0:20 to play in the second OT.

By the box score standard, Tharpe did not have a good night. He was 2-of-11 from the floor and 0-of-6 from three-point range with four turnovers. But with McLemore not stepping up and fellow guard Elijah Johnson fouling out with 2:34 to play in the first overtime, Tharpe needed to control the ball.

Even on the final possession where Tharpe ultimately hit the game-winner, McLemore fumbled the ball on the wing before handing it off to him.

And that brings up and important point.

McLemore did not assert himself after struggling for most of the night and finished with seven points on 3-of-12 FG. It was only the third time all season that he had failed to score in double figures and the other two times came in early season non-conference blowouts. He has proven that he can be clutch. Feel free to look back at his game against Iowa State at Allen Fieldhouse for proof of that.

But the real key will be, on nights when his shot is not falling, can he affect the game in other ways and have the confidence to be an option like Tharpe or Releford was on the final possession? He is young. It should come with time. We know that he can be that clear No. 1 option when he is hot, but it is the nights when he is not that will matter. In the mean time, he is still a sensational talent and a key to Kansas’ Final Four hopes this season.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Willie Cauley-Stein key as Kentucky outlasts Vanderbilt, was a team dodgeball game to thank?

Willie Cauley-Stein
Leave a comment

The torn ACL of star freshman Nerlens Noel made Kentucky a team destined for the NIT in the minds of many. That may still be the case, but Wednesday night in a close 74-70 win over Vanderbilt at Rupp Arena, they found an interior presence late that helped them to a win.

Willie Cauley-Stein had blocks on consecutive possessions in the final minute, looking every bit as capable as Noel around the rim to stop two Vanderbilt possessions and preserve a victory. Cauley-Stein finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, and three big blocks on a night that Kentucky needed some things to go right to fend off a Vanderbilt team that they had trouble with earlier in the season even when Noel was in the lineup.

In addition to Cauley-Stein having his biggest game of the season, guards Archie Goodwin and Ryan Harrow both played well. They both scored in double figures and looked to have done a complete 180-degree pivot since going scoreless in his last two games. He had 12 points and four assists, but perhaps most importantly no turnovers.

Part of that is a credit to the fact that Kentucky did not look as tentative and tense as it did in its first game without Noel, a blowout loss to Tennessee. Coach John Calipari said that the team played dodgeball to lighten the mood on Tuesday after a team walk-through. Was it part of the solution? [Here’s video of the dodgeball game]

There still remain areas of concern, though.

Kentucky played well in the first half, leading by eight at the break. The problem was, that energy in the first half made for a team that struggled to keep up for much of the second. The defense has to continue to adapt

But I’m still not sold on Kentucky falling on the right side of the bubble on Selection Sunday. The struggles they saw tonight at home likely won’t make for a win against Missouri, or on the road against Arkansas, or at home against Florida without Noel. Without a true signature win, John Calipari and the Wildcats could be NIT-bound.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Deshaun Thomas leads No. 18 Ohio State to much-needed win over Minnesota

Deshaun Thomas
Leave a comment

Ohio State shouldn’t rely so heavily on Deshaun Thomas if it wants to win in March, but Wednesday night against Minnesota, the Gophers’ severe offensive struggles masked the Buckeyes dependence.

Thomas scored 19 points, though he was a less-than-efficient 6-of-16 from the floor, in Ohio State’s 71-45 dismantling of Minnesota at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

The win stops a skid that saw the Buckeyes lose three of their last four, all three of those games coming against ranked teams in the nation’s toughest conference. This doesn’t say much about Ohio State other than the fact that they stopped a bad stretch from going any farther and hope to have righted the ship before a big matchup Sunday with No. 4 Michigan State.

Ohio State’s defense is the engine of its overall attack in a conference that is full of quality defenses, but they met a Minnesota team Wednesday that has made a habit of turning the ball over and taking themselves out of winnable games because of it. The Gophers turned the ball over 21 times and shot just 29 percent from the floor.

The focus will shift Sunday to guard Aaron Craft, who will be tabbed with continuing to slow down Michigan State point guard Keith Appling. Appling struggled against No. 1 Indiana Tuesday night, but was the biggest reason the Spartans scored a home win over Ohio State earlier in the season in East Lansing.

Once they jump that hurdle, win or loss, they still have a date with No. 1 Indiana before what promises to be an interesting Big Ten tournament. With that in mind, that is why Wednesday win over Minnesota means so much. The Buckeyes couldn’t have afforded to be sliding with Michigan State, Indiana, and Illinois on the horizon.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_