This summer has provided a number of interesting rules by the NCAA, and Louisville head coach voiced his opinion on Friday in the wake of one of the NCAA’s most recent head-scratching rulings.
Rakeem Buckles started his career at Louisville, but decided to follow Richard Pitino to the FIU, sat out the season, and then chose to go with Pitino to Minnesota. On Wednesday, Buckles, who has one year of eligibility remaining, had his waiver to play immediately was denied by the NCAA. This ruling is puzzling for two reasons: FIU is ineligible for postseason play due to APR issues from Isiah Thomas’ tenure as head coach. Also, this comes five weeks after FIU transfer Malik Smith was granted a waive to play right away at Minnesota.
When talking to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, Rick Pitino expressed his disbelief in the NCAA’s decision.
“I’m just blown away by it,” Pitino told Goodman. “It makes no sense. It’s amazing the NCAA can do this. He’s a model student-athlete who had a 3.2 GPA when he left Louisville. He just wants a chance to play in another NCAA tournament.
“[Buckles] had no idea that the program wouldn’t be able to play in the NCAA tournament when he transferred to FIU. This is a good kid who has dealt with plenty of adversity over his career. It’s completely unfair.”
The 6-foot-7 Buckles has torn both his ACLs — right in February 2011, left in January 2012 — during his time in a Cardinal uniform. He would have seen considerable action on the Golden Gophers frontline.
The NCAA’s decision has since been appealed.
Between Richard Pitino accepting the head coaching job at Minnesota and the school learning that low APR numbers may result in a postseason ban for the 2013-14 season, the offseason hasn’t been a smooth one for the FIU basketball program.
New head coach Anthony Evans has made an addition to the roster, as it was reported by Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com on Sunday that former Kansas State forward Adrian Diaz will transfer to the school. In two seasons at Kansas State, the 6-10 Miami native played just nine minutes per game and averaged three points and two rebounds per game.
With the move Diaz becomes the second former Wildcat to transfer to a school located in Miami, as point guard Angel Rodriguez is now a Miami Hurricane.
FIU has lost its second-leading scorer from last season (guard Malik Smith, who is transferring to Minnesota) and three recruits who were talented enough to make the move from the Sun Belt to Conference USA a smooth one.
The good news for Evans (at this point) is that leading scorer Tymell Murphy (14.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and promising forward Jerome Frink (10.2, 6.3) are both expected to return, but the Panthers are still lacking in the depth department.
Diaz likely won’t be able to help FIU immediately due to NCAA transfer rules, but his commitment gives the Panthers some much-needed front court size for the future.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
While the FIU Panthers aren’t playing in the NCAA tournament the first season of the Richard Pitino era resulted in a much-improved product on the court in Miami. The Panthers (18-14) improved their win total by ten games and reached the title game of the Sun Belt tournament, where they fell to Western Kentucky.
With their top three scorers from this season all due to return next season, which will also feature the addition of Louisville transfer Rakeem Buckles, the future looks to be bright at FIU.
And according to Coach Pitino’s Twitter account the school is considering a new court design for its debut season in Conference USA. Pitino sent out two of the possibilities earlier this week via Twitter, and to say the least the proposals are interesting:
Those designs would certainly grab some attention for the program. Given some of the different jersey designs that schools have worn this season there really isn’t much of a surprise when it comes to things like this. But in the case of an ugly jersey at least a team can decide not to wear it; the same can’t be done with an expensive floor design.
But regardless of what FIU decides to do with its court design, it’s better to look for some extra publicity in this manner as opposed to how they went about hiring the coach prior to Pitino.
h/t The Dagger
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.