Rob Dauster

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Is NBA hype distracting Larranaga’s Hurricanes?

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Miami Hurricanes guards Bruce Brown and Lonnie Walker IV might not be ready for the NBA next season after all, and coach Jim Larranaga wonders whether they’re even ready for Florida State.

No. 15 Miami faces the 24th-ranked Seminoles on Sunday, and in the wake of two recent losses and a slide in the rankings, Larranaga’s no longer keen on the NBA talk.

Before the season, he touted underclassmen Brown and Walker as likely destined for the pros in 2018. But Brown’s offensive production has fallen off in his sophomore season, and Walker has played like a freshman — which he is.

On Friday, Larranaga complained about his players viewing college as a pit stop en route to the NBA.

“These guys are coming here like it’s a prep school,” he said.

Regarding sources of NBA hype for his players, Larranaga didn’t mention himself.

“They probably read social media and Twitter and all that junk, and what the media say, and the color commentator at a game,” Larranaga said.

The Hurricanes (12-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) climbed to No. 6 in the rankings before Christmas, but they’ve lost two of their past four games, including Wednesday at Georgia Tech. They’ll fall out of the rankings if they lose to the Seminoles (12-2, 1-1), and perhaps even if they win.

Miami’s biggest problem has been a sputtering offense that Larranaga described as lacking cohesion and rhythm. The leading scorer is neither Brown nor Walker but sophomore forward Dewan Huell.

Brown is averaging 10.9 points and shooting 43 percent, both figures lower than a year ago. Walker is at 8.3 points and 42 percent. In the past six games they’re both shooting below 40 percent while going a combined 4 for 36 (11 percent) from 3-point range.

A New York Knicks scout attended practice Friday, underscoring the obvious question: Is a potential NBA future distracting Brown and Walker?

“You think about it sometimes, obviously,” Brown said. “But I don’t think it’s an issue with us. I don’t think about it much; I know he doesn’t think about it much. We don’t even have conversations about it.”

Larranaga, who is in his 33rd season as a head coach, chuckled when asked if his players are thinking about the NBA.

“Our guys?” he said. “Every guy. My guys at George Mason and my guys at Bowling Green were thinking they were one and done. It’s a real problem for our culture. It’s a real sad commentary as to what has happened to college basketball.”

Larranaga said he would favor the sport returning to the old rules allowing players to turn pro out of high school. But that’s a discussion for another day.

“Right now what’s imminent,” he said, “is Florida State.”

Weekend Preview: This may be the best weekend of hoops yet this season

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No. 7 OKLAHOMA at No. 6 WEST VIRGINIA (-4), Sat. 7:15 p.m.

This is quite possibly the best individual matchup that we are going to see all season long: Trae Young, the nation’s best player and the leading candidate for Player of the Year, going up against senior point guard Jevon Carter, one of the best on-ball defenders in all of college basketball, and Press Virginia. If Young does what he has done through the first two months of the season on the road against this West Virginia team, then maybe we should just send him to the NBA now.

  • PREDICTION: I actually think this is the game where Young’s legs start to show. WVU wears down ball-handlers. West Virginia (-4)

No. 12 NORTH CAROLINA at No. 8 VIRGINIA (-7), Sat. 1:00 p.m.

Virginia has won four of the last five regular season meetings with North Carolina, including all three of the games that these two teams have played at John Paul Jones Arena. That’s because the way that the Tar Heels have played is what Virginia’s Pack-Line defense is designed to stop. They double the post, they clean the glass, they don’t allow transition and they force you to make jump shots. The way that Roy Williams wants to play is by scoring in transition, pounding the ball into the paint and attacking the offensive glass. It’s a bad matchup.

  • PREDICTION: UNC is playing differently this season, but that has a lot to do with their bigs being young. I think Virginia’s defense totally flummoxes the Tar Heels. Virginia (-7)

No. 17 KENTUCKY at No. 23 TENNESSEE (-2), Sat. 9:00 p.m.

Kentucky always seems to struggle at Tennessee, and this is a pretty important game for the Vols. Lose here, and they’re 0-3 in the SEC with a pair of home losses to their name. Tennessee has played very, very well against good teams this season … and blown two or three big leads they should have held onto. I don’t expect Kentucky to be getting points when the line comes out in Vegas.

  • PREDICTION: If Kentucky is getting points, then I’m taking them, especially with the way Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been playing. Kentucky (+2)

No. 10 KANSAS (-1) at No. 16 TCU, Sat. 9:15 p.m.

With all the criticism surrounding Kansas this week and what I’m sure was a miserable set of practices to attend, I think this is the bounce back spot for the Jayhawks. Their loss to Texas Tech, to me, has so much to do with how the Red Raiders defend. They run you off the three point line and force turnovers, which is precisely the kind of defense that gives the Jayhawks trouble. I don’t think TCU can execute in that way.

  • PREDICTION: Svi catches fire, Kansas makes 15 threes and they win. Kansas (-1)


No. 24 FLORIDA STATE at No. 15 MIAMI (-4), Sun. 6:00 p.m.

This is a critical game for a Miami team that I was very high on entering the season. They’ve lost two of their last four, including a game at Georgia Tech on Wednesday. The Hurricanes can really defend, they’re just waiting for their offense to catchup. I think this is the game that happens.

  • PREDICTION: The Hurricanes bounce-back. Miami (-4)

SMU at No. 19 CINCINNATI (-6), Sun. 6:00 p.m.

This game was a whole lot more intriguing before SMU went and lost at Tulane on Thursday night. The Mustangs should matchup fairly well with Cincinnati, who landed a last-second win a Temple.

  • PREDICTION: The Mustangs small-ball isn’t going to work against a team that has Gary Clark at the four. Cincinnati (-6)


  • No. 5 XAVIER (-4) at PROVIDENCE, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: Is Rodney Bullock going to play? If he doesn’t, I love Xavier (-4). If he does … I still like Xavier.
  • No. 2 DUKE (-12) at N.C. STATE, Sat. 8:00 p.m.: N.C. State just gave up 88 points to a Notre Dame team that didn’t have Bonzie Colson and that lost Matt Farrell to a sprained ankle. Let’s see what they do against the nation’s most efficient offense.
  • MARQUETTE at No. 3 VILLANOVA (-15), Sat. 8:00 p.m.: Marquette beat Villanova in Milwaukee last year, and if Markus Howard goes for 52 points again, they’ll beat them in Philly this year.
  • KANSAS STATE at No. 18 TEXAS TECH (-10), Sat. 4:00 p.m.: Will there be a hangover for the Red Raiders? I don’t think so. The Wildcats are going to run into a buzzsaw.
  • No. 1 MICHIGAN STATE (-7) at OHIO STATE, Sun. 4:30 p.m.: As good as I think Chris Holtmann is, Michigan State is the best team in the country right now and playing some of their best basketball of the season.

No. 4 Arizona State loses second straight at Colorado

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Arizona State learned pretty quickly that conference play is not as easy as it may seem.

After starting the season 12-0 and climbing as high as No. 3 in the polls, the Sun Devils lost their second straight game to open Pac-12 play Thursday when they fell at Colorado, 90-81, in overtime.

It’s the 11th time this season that a top five team has lost to an unranked team.

Credit where credit is due: Colorado played great. McKinley Wright was awesome, finishing with 19 points and five assists. Namon Wright had 19 points off the bench. George King finished with 18 points, hitting a big three in overtime to open up a five-point lead. Nothing I am going to say will diminish that.

But Arizona State is the team that has spent the first two month of the season looking like a national title contender so they are the team that we are going to be focused on.

And frankly, I think some of this is the regression that we all thought would eventually come. Arizona State is a team that’s built around talented guards making tough shots – and a lot of threes – and at some point they would run cold. That’s just kind of how basketball works. Right now, Shannon Evans is running cold. He was 3-for-14 from the floor on Thursday night. He was 3-for-14 from the floor in Saturday night’s loss at Arizona. He’s a combined 0-for-14 from three in those two games. In the last five games, he is shooting 17-for-68 (25 percent) from the floor and 9-for-47 (19.1 percent) from three.

But it’s also important to remember that Arizona State’s first loss was on the road to a team we all thought would run away with the Pac-12 regular season title. And their second loss came at more than a mile of elevation in a conference road game. There’s a reason it’s so difficult to win at Utah and at Colorado, and it’s not because those programs have been juggernauts in recent years.

So yes, Arizona State has not been playing well.

And when you don’t play well in league games on the road, you lose.

Don’t be too worried just yet.

Report: Minnesota center Reggie Lynch suspended until 2020 for sexual misconduct

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The nation’s third-leading shot-blocker has been suspended from the University of Minnesota’s campus until August of 2020, according to a report from the Pioneer Press.

The incident that Lynch has been suspended for is a separate incident from the allegation that resulted in a suspension back in May of 2016. He was allowed to play this season while the school investigated the new allegation. The police were not involved in the second investigation, per the report.

Reggie Lynch, a redshirt senior center from Edina, MN, has been “found responsible for violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy,” according to the paper, who obtained documents from the University of Minnesota’s Office Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

Lynch was suspended from the Minnesota team in the spring of 2016 stemming from an alleged sexual assault of a 19-year old woman in an on-campus apartment. He was arrested by the police and suspended during the police investigation, but ultimately was not charged and was eventually cleared by the school after an investigation by the EOAA.

That incident was widely reported.

And that, according to this report, is not the incident that has earned Lynch a two-and-a-half year suspension from school and ban from the campus. There was a separate sexual assault allegation that spring that was not reported to the police. It was investigated by the EOAA, and they reportedly have determined that Lynch violated the school’s sexual misconduct rules. The Star-Tribune is reporting that the accuser reported the incident this fall.

At a press conference on Friday morning addressing Lynch, Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle announced that Lynch was suspended from competition but that he was still a member of the basketball program. Both Coyle and head coach Richard Pitino stood behind student privacy laws when asked such simple questions as ‘When did you find out about the second investigation?’ and ‘Why was Lynch allowed to play while this investigation was pending?’ Neither had an answer for whether or not this second investigation was handed over to police.

“We do a lot of background and we never saw any red flags leading up to this,” Pitino said of his recruitment of Lynch. “We do as much background as we can with everybody we bring in.”

Lynch, who is averaging 10.1 points, 8.0 boards and 4.1 blocks this season, can appeal the decision.

Lynch enrolled at Minnesota at the start of the 2015-16 school year. He transferred to Minnesota from Illinois State, where he played his first two seasons. Barring a win on appeal, effective January 9th, Lynch will be suspended from the university and banned from the campus and all university events until August, 2020. As a redshirt senior, this would end his college basketball career.

Last year, Minnesota’s football team threatened to boycott a bowl game over the suspension of 10 players over an alleged sexual assault. In February of 2016, three players – including Nate Mason and Dupree MacBrayer, current starters – were suspended after former Gopher Kevin Dorsey posted explicit videos on his twitter page. In 2014, Daquein McNeil was kicked off the team following an arrest for a vicious assault on his girlfriend. He was again arrested for assaulting the woman in 2015 and has since been charged with murder for a deadly house fire that he set.

Stephen Curry calls Trae Young ‘unbelievable’

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During this sensational season that Trae young is having, he has been compared more to Stephen Curry than any player in basketball.

The comparisons aren’t entirely off-base, even if putting a 19-year old in the same conversation as a man that changed how basketball is played is entirely unfair.

Curry was asked about those comparisons on Wednesday night, and it was clear that he’s watched Young do his thing at points this season.

“He’s unbelievable. Just the confidence that he plays with,” Curry told reporters on Wednesday night, after Golden State beat the Dallas Mavericks. “I call it the flair, but it seems like he’s always composed and knows what he’s trying to do every time he has the ball in his hands. He shoots a lot of deep threes and has a creativity to his game that’s just so fluid to watch.”

“Just watching him on the floor at all times, that kind of magnetism is special.”

And it’s similar to what Curry was when he was at Davidson. Frankly, it’s what Curry is right now.

Young got a chance to see Curry play in person when Steph’s Davidson Wildcats played at Oklahoma when Blake Griffin was still on campus. Curry had 44 points in that game, and Young clearly understands Curry’s role in creating a future for him in this sport.

“He was changing the game,” Young told the Wall Street Journal, “and the way I played fit perfectly.”

VIDEO: Official ‘TV Teddy’ Valentine turns his back on Joel Berry II during exchange

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Here’s something that you don’t see every day.

In the second half of No. 24 Florida State’s win over No. 12 North Carolina, Joel Berry II, UNC’s senior all-american point guard and the reigning Final Four MOP, was blatantly held during a fast break. The hold resulted in a turnover, and as you might expect, Berry was not happy a foul wasn’t called.

As he scooped up the ball and went to go speak to Ted Valentine, known as TV Teddy on the internet, Valentine quite literally turned his back on Berry. Watch this:

If you talk to coaches in the sport, Valentine is one of the most respected officials in the college game. He generally gets calls right, he’s willing to hear out what they have to say and, most importantly, he’s not affected by a home crowd getting on him or someone like Coach K or Tom Izzo jabbering in his ear for two hours.

But that doesn’t excuse this.

Not when it is very easy to see that Valentine and his crew totally blew a call that resulted in a turnover in a game that the Tar Heels lost by a single point.

Berry had a legitimate beef and should be as respected as any player in the sport.

What Valentine did here was wrong, and while you cannot say that he cost UNC the game – the way possessions play out down the stretch are determined by the score, and if the score was different it would have played out differently – he, at the very least, owes Berry an apology.