FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long says the university is backing six women’s basketball players who kneeled during the national anthem before an exhibition game Thursday.
Players Jordan Danberry, Tatiyana Smith, Kiara Williams, Jailyn Mason, Yasmeen Ratliff and Briunna Freeman locked arms and kneeled as a color guard presented the U.S and Arkansas flags.
After Arkansas’ 79-32 win over Oklahoma Baptist, Razorbacks coach Jimmy Dykes said he was “very, very proud” of the players for their protest. The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/2eGEkFf ) that hundreds of Arkansas fans, including some state lawmakers, criticized the protest on social media.
Danberry told the newspaper that the players, who are all black, kneeled to protest police shootings of African-Americans and other minorities.
Long said the university respects the students’ rights to express their opinions.
Georgetown center to miss the first four games of 2016-17, per NCAA
The good news for Georgetown is that they get center Bradley Hayes, one of the most improved players in the Big East last season, back for a final year of eligibility.
The bad news is that it comes at a cost: four games.
“I don’t know if I would call it an agreement, but that’s what the NCAA told us,” head coach John Thompson III told reporters at Georgetown’s media day. Hayes barely played as a freshman with the Hoyas – 13 total minutes in nine games – and spent much of the year trying to deal with the death of his father, so the NCAA did the right thing and gave him another year.
Hayes was a bit player for the Hoyas before bursting onto the scene last season. He finished the year with averages of 8.7 points and 6.7 boards, but his numbers took a dip late in the year as he battled injury. The Hoyas were winless as Hayes at out the final six games of the regular season.
Report: Worrisome details emerge in Purdue player’s offseason arrest
On Friday morning, Purdue head coach Matt Painter announced that the suspension of guard Ryan Cline had been extended to six games after the details of his arrest over the summer were made public.
Cline was initially suspended for two exhibitions and Purdue’s season-opener. He’ll now miss three additional regular season games.
“As we’ve said before, our guys are held to a high standard of conduct off the court,” Painter said in a news release. “After some additional meetings and information gathering over the last week, we’ve decided that Ryan will sit out the first six contests of the season for a violation of team rules. We are not going to discuss specifics and will handle other items internally, but feel this is the best course of action for our program and everyone involved.”
Cline certainly earned his six-game suspension. According to the Lafayette Journal & Courier, who obtained an affidavit for probable cause stemming from the arrest, Cline was found passed out at the wheel of his car with the engine revving and his foot on the accelerator. An officer that arrived at the scene said that Cline was unresponsive even after the officer broke the car’s window to gain access. Cline was found to be in possession of less than 30 grams of weed.
Here’s the truly concerning part: This happened at 9:53 a.m. on a Monday morning.
I’m not going to pretend to know all the details of what happened here and I’m not going to judge Painter’s decision-making process without knowing those details.
What I will say is this: I hope that the Purdue program gets Cline any help that he may need.
Markelle Fultz with 14 points off the bench in Washington debut
Markelle Fultz, the potential No. 1 pick in the 2017 Draft, played his first exhibition as a collegian on Thursday night, and the star point guard for the Washington Huskies … came off the bench.
According head coach Lorenzo Romar, that was simply a result of Fultz being worn down from a long summer of traveling, playing for the national team and discovering the grind of his first college preseason.
“He’s working his way back up. When we play next week, I’m sure he’ll be able to go 40 minutes, but tonight we were only able to play him the minutes that he played. He makes a difference with our team there’s no doubt about it.”
While it may not be the best sign that Fultz struggled with conditioning during practices, what is a great sign is that he helped lead the Huskies to a win in a game that was far closer than it should have been. He had 14 points, seven boards and five assists and was responsible for a late, 6-0 run that turned an 87-84 deficit into a 90-87 lead that U-Dub would never relinquish.
Mitchell was one of my favorite players in the Class of 2015, and that did not change during the course of the 2015-16 season. He saw limited minutes early in the year, but by the end of ACC play, he was showing flashes of just how good he can be. Mitchell is a perfect fit for the style that Rick Pitino’s teams play. He’s a strong, athletic combo-guard that is a nightmate defensively and can play both on and off the ball offensively. He needs to get more consistent shooting the ball from the perimeter, but if he does, don’t be shocked to see Mitchell play his way into the mix as a first-team all-ACC candidate.
And, believe it or not, Adel may actually be the better of the two. His freshman season was derailed by injuries, but Adel has been one of the best players in Louisville practices since he arrived on campus. One of the reasons that Pitino brought in a pair of grad transfers for the 2015-16 season was that he knew how good that freshman class would be in time while also being aware of the fact that they needed a year of seasoning at the college level. Adel and Mitchell got that last season. It will pay dividends this year.
Jalen Adams, UConn
Kevin Ollie brought recruited Jalen Adams with the intention of turning over the reins of the program to him eventually. Adams, who hails from the same area of Boston that Shabazz Napier grew up, appears ready to take over that role this year. UConn has an impressive amount of talent on their roster this season, but if the Huskies are going to have a chance to live up to the expectations of that fan base, they are going to need Adams to come-of-age this season. He had an up-and-down freshman year, but there were some performances – 19 points at Cincinnati, 22 points vs. the Bearcats in the AAC tournament, 11 points and eight assists vs. Temple – that showed just how good he can be.
O.G. Anunoby, Indiana
Seeing Anunoby’s name on a list like this shouldn’t shock you, not with the way that he played at the end of last season or with the amount of NBA Draft hype that he has entering this season. But here’s the thing about Anunoby: Part of his appeal as a pro is that he’s an ideal role player. Players that have the size to guard a four, the quickness to guard a one, the ability to knock down threes and attack close outs, and the willingness to accept a role are so valuable. That may as well be a scouting report on Anunoby. So while he projects as a very good pro and should prove that this season, it may not be a situation where that shows up in the box score every night.
Bragg is probably the fifth-most valuable starter on the Jayhawk roster. He’s also a good bet to lead the Jayhawks in scoring this season. The way that the Kansas offense works is that the ball gets funnelled to the guy that can score out of the post. That was Perry Ellis the last three seasons, and Ellis led the Jayhawks in scoring in two of those three years. Bragg may not be as good as Ellis just yet, but he is an adequate replacement given how skilled he is offensively. I wouldn’t be shocked if he averaged 15 points this season.
Edmond Sumner, Xavier
Yes, Sumner was a star last season. Yes, he’s already on the radar of teams drafting in the first round. Yes, he was an all-Big East player as a freshman. But Sumner is no where near a national name at this point, and, quite frankly, he is no where near being a finished product. He’s a guy that’s still learning about to play at his size (6-foot-6) and athleticism thanks to a late growth spurt. Sumner still has plenty of room to get better, and that should be scary.
Tyler Lydon, Syracuse
Lydon is the player that Jim Boeheim has been dreaming about for years. He’s a long, athletic 6-foot-9 shot-blocker that can also step out and knock down threes. I’m not sure that it’s possible to find a player that better fits the way that he plays than Lydon. One interesting thing to watch here: How much will Lydon be able to produce on a team that doesn’t have great point guard play? He’s a shot-maker. He’s not a shot-creator.
Ja’Quan Newton, Miami
Jim Larrañaga’s offense is at its best when it is built around a point guard who thrives in ball-screen actions. It was Shane Larkin in 2013, it was Angel Rodriguez last season and it will be Ja’Quan Newton this year. With Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan gone, Newton will inherit the role of Miami’s go-to guy, and he has the talent to be an all-ACC player.
As a freshman, Metu averaged 6.4 points, 3.5 boards and 1.6 blocks in just over 18 minutes last season, and this year, playing on a team that lost starting big man Nikola Jovanovic, he’ll be asked to play a much bigger role. Metu has the athleticism that Andy Enfield loves in his centers, and he’s also added some weight and a perimeter jumper this offseason.
London Perrantes, Virginia
Everyone knows who London Perrantes is at this point. He’s won 89 games in his college basketball career. His arrival at UVA coincided with the Wahoos becoming one of the ACC’s best basketball programs. But there’s never been a point in time where he was going to be asked to carry as much of the load offensively as he’ll be asked to carry this season. I think we’re going to see a different Perrantes than we’ve become accustomed to with Malcolm Brogdon gone.
Markus McDuffie, Wichita State
No Fred VanVleet. No Ron Baker. It’s a new era in Wichita, and it will be McDuffie that is asked to usher it in. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-7 wing that showed impressive flashes as a freshman on a team that was dominated by upper-classmen. If the Shockers are to repeat as MVC champs, it will be because McDuffie realized his potential.
Isaac Haas, Purdue
Haas averaged 9.8 points in just over 14 minutes this past season, but his playing time was limited because the Boilermakers had a guy on the roster by the name of A.J. Hammons. Haas should be able to see upwards of 25-30 minutes this season, but the major question mark with him is endurance. He’s a 7-foot-2, 300-pound kid that looks like he’s chiseled out of stone. It’s hard work moving that body up and down the floor.
Shake Milton, SMU
Milton is a guy that is all over the radar of NBA scouts because he’s a 6-foot-5 point guard with a 6-foot-11 wingspan that shot 42.6 percent from three. He also averaged 10.5 points and 2.7 assists playing behind Nic Moore. If he can take over the lead guard role in SMU’s offense, he could play his way into being a first round pick.
D.J. Hogg, Texas A&M
Someone is going to have to do the scoring for the Aggies this season, and it might as well be Hogg, who, at 6-foot-8, is one of the best shooters in the SEC. His presence will be important for a team that is trying to create space for the massive Tyler Davis in the paint.
Deonte Burton, Iowa State
I’m torn on Burton. On the one hand, his ability to play a Draymond Green-esque role for the Cyclones will be critical to their ability to survive playing small-ball. He has the talent and the physical tools to do so. But he has yet to prove that he can be consistent at the Big 12 level. Let’s put it like this: If Iowa State turns out to be a top 25 team this season it will be because Burton proved he deserved to be on this list.
Markus Derrickson, Georgetown
The Hoyas have a couple of candidates for this list on their roster – some due to the fact they’ve underperformed for two seasons – but we’re going with Derrickson. He’s had a terrific summer and has the size and shooting ability that makes him a perfect fit in the offense that JT3 runs.
Melo on a Mission: Last year’s struggles ignited a fire under Maryland’s Trimble
He didn’t want to return to school for his junior year. He didn’t want to put his professional career on hold for another 12 months. He didn’t want to return to College Park as the forgotten superstar in an era where three seasons in college makes you an elder statesmen that the general public believes is somewhere between overrated and not-all-that-good to begin with. He waited as long as he possibly could to announce his decision to return. He looked for any justifiable reason for him to keep his name in the draft.
There were none.
Melo was the 2015-16 Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year. He was a potential first round pick that opted to return to school to be the face of a team that was one of, if not the most talented teams in college basketball. He was supposed to be the hometown hero that returned a storied program to the pinnacle of the sport, to become a legend amongst the maniacal Maryland fan base, to never have to pay for a sandwich in College Park again.
Suffice to say, the year didn’t go as planned. The Terps under-performed throughout the regular season, managed just a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament and fell to No. 1 Kansas in the Sweet 16. The pieces that head coach Mark Turgeon had collected just didn’t seem to fit all that well together. The team lacked leadership. They lacked cohesion. There were too many players worried about how their performance would affect their professional future. They were soft.
Individually, Melo was just as bad. His scoring average dipped (16.2 points to 14.8 points), he could no longer hit threes (41.2% to 31.5%), he shot 58 fewer free throws and he spent the second half of the season in a dreadful slump he never truly seemed to shake.
It was bad.
Ask him and Turgeon will try and spin it. He’ll tell you that they won 27 games, that they went to the Sweet 16 and took a tough loss to the No. 1 team in the country, that the only possible way to live up to their preseason expectations was to win Big Ten titles en route to a national title. He’ll call it a “great season” over and over again.
And he’ll be wrong, both in his characterization of last season and in how he’s handling it this year.
He should keep reminding everyone just how disappointing the Terps were in 2015-16. He should want that to continue to be a talking point. He should want the the narrative around Maryland to be that the Terps couldn’t handle success and that Melo was the reason why.
Because the best thing for Mark Turgeon and Maryland is a pissed off Melo Trimble.
The biggest issue that Melo Trimble had as a sophomore was the inability to tune out the noise.
His future wasn’t the only thing on his mind, but it’s hard not to think about what comes next when the end result will be, quite literally, your dream coming true. Every basketball player grows up dreaming of hearing their name called during the NBA Draft, of walking across that stage and shaking the commissioner’s hand and getting interviewed on national television. Melo wasn’t immune to that.
He also wasn’t immune to the detractors, to the negative narrative that started swirling around the Maryland program as an unimpressive start turned into doubts about just how good the team, and the team’s star point guard, actually was. Every bad performance gave way to being questioned by the talking heads on game broadcasts, criticisms on college basketball and NBA Draft websites, a sliding draft stock, a cauldron of hate on social media.
Melo let all that noise get to him, and it snowballed. He couldn’t shake a nagging hamstring injury, he lost his confidence and he just wasn’t having fun anymore.
“Too much expectations, too much pressure on myself, too much thinking about the NBA,” Trimble said. “I just forgot how to be a kid and have fun playing basketball.”
“I think I played well the first part of the season. Then I had a little area when I didn’t shoot he ball well and everyone blew it out of proportion.”
Trimble didn’t know how to handle it. He never had to deal with that kind of adversity or negativity before. He was a star at Bishop O’Connell High School, a very good basketball program that plays in the toughest conference in the D.C. area. He was a McDonald’s All-American as a senior, and as a freshman with the Terps, he was a hero that made clutch shot after clutch shot and led the Terps to win after win. Maryland was picked 10th in the league and finished all alone in second place, earning a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament before succumbing to West Virginia in the second round.
“He’s a kid,” Turgeon said. “As mature as he plays and acts, he’s still a kid. [Last year there] was a lot of pressure, but he’s much more equipped to handle it now from what he went through.”
“Juan Dixon used to tell me it’s good for a great player to have struggles at some point. They all have it. Melo had it. It’s going to make him a better player, a better person. It’s life. We all struggle. What the went through last year has made him much more complete.”
The biggest change that Turgeon has seen in his point guard’s game comes in the leadership department. Melo is naturally a quiet kid. He’s not the kind of player that is going to scream at a teammate who missed a defensive rotation or forgot how to run a set offensively. He’s not the guy in the locker room firing up his teammates with an impassioned pregame speech.
He’s not Draymond Green. He’s the lead-by-example type.
That worked when he was a freshman because Maryland had Dez Wells, a senior guard that had spent three years in the program and who was a powerful voice in the locker room. That was Wells’ team even if it was Melo who starred on the floor.
Partly because of all the new faces coming into the program and partly a result of the way those players fit together – both on the floor and off the floor – it just didn’t work last year, and Maryland paid the price.
“This year is different,” Melo said. “It’s my team. I’m the leader of this team. We’ve got a group of guys that want to get better and I think this group of guys respect the leader of the team this season.”
“The players, the attitudes. This team has the best attitude. I’ve got a bunch of guys that want to work. When you have those guys that want to work and that respect their leader, everything works out for itself.”
Turgeon will vouch for Melo’s growth.
“His message is clearer,” Turgeon said. “His voice isn’t cracking. It’s a lot of things. We all mature at different rates. Some guys are born leaders. Some guys become leaders.”
Melo still isn’t the loudest voice in the locker room – “Coach Turgeon is going to do all this yelling,” he says with a smile, adding that “when they come to me I’m pretty much their savior, helping them with things they don’t understand.” – but he has a confidence that comes with knowing that this team will go as far as he takes them, and that the rest of his team knows it as well.
The Terps do have some quality pieces. The freshmen are drawing rave reviews. Anthony Cowan, a top 40 point guard prospect, will allow Melo a chance to play off the ball while Kevin Heurter, as well as the now-healthy redshirt sophomore Dion Wiley, will give Maryland the kind of floor-spacers they lacked last season. Damonte Dodd and Michel Cevosky are back in the interior while a third freshman, Justin Jackson, as the kind of length, athleticism and skill-set to play as a small-ball four.
And it was that small-ball lineup that the Terps used to such effect during that 2014-15 season.
But the key is Melo.
It’s always going to be Melo.
And in a year where he’s finally learned how to take control of a team in a season where he is determined to prove his many doubters wrong, that is the best news that Maryland basketball could receive.