Mid-American Conference

Ball State v San Diego State

Ball State frosh wins free tuition for a semester with half-court shot (VIDEO)

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As part of its new student orientation, Ball State allows a student to attempt a half-court shot in hopes of winning free tuition for a semester. And Thursday, for the second time in three years a student managed to make the shot.

Lem Turner, who’s a member of the school’s volleyball team and played basketball in high school, knocked down the shot and as a result has one less bill to worry about. Maybe basketball coach James Whitford is considering giving the 6-foot-6 Turner a call.

Video credit: Ball State Sports Link


Reigning A-Sun Freshman of the Year transferring to Ball State

Northern Kentucky v Nebraska
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On the heels of a freshman season in which he won Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year honors, guard Tayler Persons made the decision to leave Northern Kentucky following the firing of head coach Dave Bezold. Friday evening the Indiana native announced his next college stop, as he’s decided to play for James Whitford at Ball State.

In his lone season as a member of the NKU program Persons averaged 13.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 43.6 percent from the field. Persons will have three seasons to play after sitting out the 2015-16 season per NCAA transfer rules.

Persons is essentially the first piece to Ball State’s 2016 recruiting class, and he’s an important one as the Cardinals have to account for the fact that guards Jeremiah Davis III (rising senior) and junior college transfer Naiel Smith are both upperclassmen. Francis Kiapway, who made 20 starts and averaged 6.6 points per game as a freshman, will be a sophomore next season.

In addition to Ball State, Persons held an offer from Xavier with Purdue showing some interest before landing graduate student Johnny Hill earlier this week.

Central Michigan lands former Youngstown State guard

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With first team All-MAC guard Chris Fowler due to be a senior next season, accounting for his eventual departure is something that Central Michigan head coach Keno Davis and his staff needed to do. They took a significant step in the right direction Sunday by way of the transfer market, as former Youngstown State guard Marcus Keene will join the CMU program according to Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free-Press.

Keene was Youngstown State’s leading scorer in 2014-15, averaging 15.6 points per game and shooting 44.9 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from beyond the arc. Keene will have to sit out the 2015-16 season per NCAA transfer rules, and he’ll have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

In speaking with Snyder, Keene noted that getting to see CMU up close (the two teams met during the regular season) helped him during the process of deciding where he’d transfer to.

“They play a very up-tempo style of play – that’s my style of play, especially for my size, I’ve got to get up the floor,” said Keene, just 5-foot-11, 160 pounds. “When we played them this year and seen the way they played and went up there for a visit, they showed me how I could fit into their system.”

This situation works out well for Central Michigan, as Keene can spend the upcoming year competing against Fowler and the other guards in practice while also learning a new system. In theory, that should have him prepared to take over in 2016-17. Based upon his numbers at Youngstown State, Keene has the talent needed to hit the ground running when he’s able to suit up.

Reports: Bowling Green to hire former player, Miami assistant as new head coach

University of Miami
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According to multiple reports there will be one less opening on the coaching carousel, with Bowling Green set to fill its head coaching vacancy.

Michael Huger, currently an assistant on Jim Larrañaga’s staff at Miami, is expected to be named the new head coach later this week. Huger is certainly familiar with the Bowling Green program, as he’s an alumnus of the school and played for Larrañaga from 1989-93.

Huger will replace Chris Jans, who was fired after one season for his actions at a Bowling Green bar. According to Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com Huger’s contract is expected to be a six-year deal.

Bowling Green won 21 games in 2014-15, but Huger will have to account for the loss of three of the team’s top four scorers in Richaun Holmes, Jehvon Clarke and Anthony Henderson ahead of the 2015-16 campaign. As of right now, guard Zach Denny (9.7 ppg) would be the team’s leading returning scorer.

Buffalo, head coach Bobby Hurley discussing contract extension

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For coaches the month of March can be a life-altering one, as success with their current program could lead to an opportunity at another. That’s been the case for Buffalo head coach Bobby Hurley, who led the Bulls to their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance and gave No. 5 West Virginia a good fight before falling in the Round of 64.

With that success came reports that DePaul, which parted ways with Oliver Purnell earlier this month, was interested in speaking with the former Duke point guard about its vacancy. In an appearance on SiriusXM Radio’s “Tim Brando Show” Wednesday, Hurley noted that he and Buffalo are in discussions regarding a contract extension.

“We’re in discussions for a contract extension and there’s nothing that has been signed and agreed but, you know, I think that a lot of the stuff and the speculation and DePaul is a product of the success we’ve had,” Hurley said on the show.

“I love my team.  I’m the coach of Buffalo right now.  My heart is here right now and I’m just staying in that moment.  And we’ll see where everything else goes.”

While Hurley’s comment does reveal that he and Buffalo are discussing a new deal, it was reported by Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com that Hurley still intends to speak with DePaul at some point this week. Obviously if that is the case, some will wonder just how far along the negotiations are if the head coach may still be willing to hear out a pitch from another school.

Also of note in all of this is a report by Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News, in which he states that Hurley and the administration have reached a verbal agreement on a contract extension, with the proposed figure expected to make him the highest-paid coach in the Mid-American Conference. Ohio’s Saul Phillips, who completed his first season at the school, makes a base salary of $550,000 according to the Buffalo News.

Hurley won’t have an empty cupboard by any stretch of the imagination if he finalizes an extension with Buffalo. The Bulls, who went 23-10 this season, return four of their top five scorers led by forward Justin Moss and guard Shannon Evans. The only departures from their rotation are forwards Xavier Ford and Will Regan, who split time in the starting lineup this season.

Audio courtesy of SiriusXM Radio

Mid-American Conference tournament to remain in Cleveland through 2023

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With the current contract between the Mid-American Conference and Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland set to expire in 2017, the two parties announced an agreement to extend the deal through 2023 on Wednesday. Quicken Loans Arena has hosted the conference tournament every year since 2000, and having a consistent location can help tournaments when it comes to attracting fans ahead of the NCAA tournament.

That was one of the points conference commissioner Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher touched on in the release announcing the agreement on Wednesday.

“Throughout the long history of the Mid-American Conference basketball tournament, there have been exciting and memorable tournament games,” Dr. Steinbrecher said. “Over the past 15 years the Conference has built a tradition of “coming to Cleveland.” This is a destination that keeps getting better and better. We look forward to having the opportunity to host and provide many more memorable experiences at The Q in the years to come,” Steinbrecher added.

The MAC is one conference that holds both of its conference tournaments at the same location, with that being the case since 2001 (the first year of the women’s tournament being held at “The Q”). This year’s event is scheduled for March 11-14, and the arena will also host the Midwest Regional March 26 (regional semifinals) and March 28 (regional final).