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Jaron Nash given a sixth-year of eligibility at North Dakota

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North Dakota’s men’s basketball team got some good news on Tuesday night as Jaron Nash was granted a waiver to get a sixth-season of eligibility.

“This has been a long process and we are obviously thrilled to learn that we will get Jaron back for one more season,” UND head coach Brian Jones said in a statement. “There are a lot of people to thank for their efforts, including Kara Helmig and her compliance staff along with our entire athletic administration.

“I also want to thank the NCAA and its review committee because now Jaron will be able to turn his college experience into a positive one. He’s gone through a tough road to get here with his father’s illness and dealling with some of his own injuries, but this decision will enable him to build upon his future and hopefully lift his family’s spirits.”

“This feels very good for me and my family,” Nash said. “We are very relieved and happy that the NCAA decided to give me a waiver to play my final season of collegiate basketball.”

Nash will be the leading returning scorer for UND, as he averaged 10.8 points last season. He began his college career at Tyler Junior College in Texas, but sat out the 2009-2010 season because of an injury. He played in 2010-2011 there before transferring to Texas Tech for the 2011-2012 season. He made the decision to transfer to UND in part because of what happened with Billy Gillispie in Lubbock, but also to be closer to his father, who was sick and living in Iowa.

Nash applied for a waiver to play immediately, but it was not granted by the NCAA, who has a rule that says that all four years of an athlete’s eligibility must be used within five years of enrolling in college. Nash had only played three seasons in those five years, which is why he was given an extra year.

This is how hardship waivers will be handled in the future. Instead of granting a kid immediate eligibility, the NCAA will give them an extra season, if needed, to use all four seasons.

Former Utah State center Carson Shanks headed to North Dakota

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The plan for 7-footer Carson Shanks at Utah State was to redshirt this season, with the hope that the Minnesota native would gain some extra strength and as a result be able to compete with the more physical front courts of the Mountain West. However in December Shanks made the decision to transfer, with his father citing in a story written by Kyle Goon of the Salt Lake Tribune that the young center had a desire to play at a school closer to home.

On Wednesday afternoon North Dakota announced that Shanks has joined the program and will be eligible to practice immediately. According to the school Shanks will have three and a half years of eligibility remaining, and he’ll get to play in games once the 2014 fall semester concludes.

“We are obviously excited to add a player like Carson to our program,” North Dakota head coach Brian Jones said. “He is a skilled big man that has a basketball IQ that is off the charts. He passes the ball really well, shoots its really well and can score in bunches.

“But to me, what is even more impressive than his ability on the court, is the character this young man possesses. He is going to add a lot of value to our locker room and with him and Bryce Cashman coming in next season, our future front line will fit nicely against the ones we will be facing in the Big Sky.”

Once eligible to play Shanks with give North Dakota some additional size inside, and that’s a positive with Alonzo Traylor running out of eligibility at the end of the 2013-14 campaign. North Dakota will also lose wing Troy Huff, who has been one of the best players in the Big Sky this season.

North Dakota also has two signees in its 2014 recruiting class: the aforementioned Cashman, who’s a 6-foot-10 center, and point guard Geno Crandall.

Sunday’s Pregame Shootaround: Louisville has first test of the season against North Carolina

Rick Pitino, Russ Smith
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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 3 Louisville vs. No. 24 North Carolina, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN) 

North Carolina isn’t the team that many projected in the preseason thanks to the absence of P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald, but the Tar Heels still have enough firepower to challenge Louisville in the championship game of the Hall of Fame Tipoff at Mohegan Sun. Louisville defeated Fairfield 71-57, while North Carolina earned a solid win over Richmond, 82-72, the the semifinal games yesterday.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: Virginia Commonwealth vs. Georgetown, 2:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

Georgetown is feeling the ill effects of losing Otto Porter to the NBA and has struggled in the early going with losses to Oregon and Northeastern — the latter loss very disconcerting as the Hoyas were outscored 38-20 in the second half en route to a 63-56 loss. Things don’t get easier as they have to now cope with VCU’s havoc defense. Look for Georgetown to feature Josh Smith on the offensive end as he will have a distinct size advantage against VCU.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: North Dakota vs. North Dakota State, 6:00 p.m.

If you like scoring and three-pointers, keep an eye on this game between these in-state rivals. North Dakota State has high aspirations this season as they return Taylor Braun, among others, but North Dakota is a solid team in their own right as they showed against Wisconsin last Tuesday. The Bagders are good this season, and North Dakota hung with them for much of the game, eventually succumbing 103-85.


1) Will UMass continue their hot start and knock off another BCS opponent in Clemson? On the young season, UMass has already defeated Boston College, LSU, Youngstown State, Nebraska, and — most impressively — New Mexico. A win against the Tigers, and don’t be surprised to see the Minutemen in the Top 25 come Monday.

2) Another Massachusetts school, Harvard has their first true test of the season as they travel to Colorado. It’s been hard to gauge just how good the Crimson are, but we should learn much more about them against Colorado. The match-up between Harvard’s guards Siyani Chambers and Wesley Saunders vs. Colorado’s Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker will be a good battle.

3) Providence has impressed thus far, compiling a 5-0 record with solid wins over Boston College and Vanderbilt. Against Vanderbilt, the Friars ended the game on a 27-4 run to win 67-60. They have another good test today against La Salle. Seniors Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts have been tremendous, and the Friars are looking like a team that has the potential to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.

4) Maryland has gotten off to a slow start with losses to Connecticut and Oregon State, and their game against Northern Iowa at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas figures to be a tough one. Nick Faust has to be better in order for the Terps to get on track — through four games he is shooting just 36% on two-pointers and 22% on three-pointers.

5) You should be paying close attention to Belmont this season; the Bruins are for real and very good. Fresh off of their win against North Carolina last weekend, they dismantled rival Lipscomb 94-64, and then had a solid victory against Holy Cross last night. Through six games, they have eclipsed the 80 point mark five times, and have one of the most efficient offenses in college basketball. Belmont doesn’t figure to be challenged much by Hofstra today.


  • No. 6 Duke vs. Vermont, 6:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • No. 14 Michigan vs. Charlotte, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • No. 17 Oregon vs. San Francisco, 8:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
  • No. 19 New Mexico vs. Davidson, currently airing on ESPNU
  • No. 22 UCLA vs. Chattanooga, 10:00 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)


  • UAB vs. Temple, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Florida State vs. Northeastern, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • Richmond vs. Fairfield, 3:00 p.m. (ESPN3)

2013-2014 Big Sky Preview: Can Weber State vanquish their second place curse?

Davion Berry defends Troy Huff (AP photo)
Davion Berry defends Troy Huff (AP photo)

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Here’s a wild stat for you: over the last two seasons, Weber State is 33-2 against Big Sky opponents not named Montana. But since the Wildcats have managed just a 2-4 record against the Grizzlies in their six matchups, they have no Big Sky titles to show for it. Twice, they lost to Montana in the Big Sky conference title game, while also losing a matchup between the two teams on the final day of the regular season to determine the champ.

This is the year for Weber State to change that fact. The Wildcats lose Scott Bamforth and Frank Otis, but they bring back a Player of the Year candidate in wing Davion Berry as well as Joel Bolomboy and Kyle Tresnak, who will make up the best front line in the conference. Gelaun Wheelwright’s decision to transfer leaves Randy Rahe’s club lacking some back court depth, and guys like Jordan Richardson and Royce Williams will need to up their scoring, but the talent is there to win the league.

(MORE: Kareem Jamar’s shot at stardom)

On the flip side, while Montana brings back reigning Big Sky Player of the Year Kareem Jamar, the Grizzlies also lose a number of key pieces, including Mathias Ward and Will Cherry. The Grizz will need Jordan Gregory and Keron DeShields to have big years, but if none of their big men step up, Wayne Tinkle’s run about the Big Sky may come to an end.

The team to keep an eye on this season is North Dakota. The No Names (seriously, they don’t actually have a nickname right now) won 11 of their last 15 games in league play after starting the year 1-4. Troy Huff, who may be the most exciting player in the league, is back, as is the much-improved Aaron Anderson. The x-factor here? The addition of Texas Tech transfer Jaron Nash in the front court.

Eastern Washington, Montana State and Northern Colorado are all talented enough to be noted, but likely won’t be pushing for the league titled.


source: Getty Images
Kareem Jamar (Getty Images)

Berry is the best player on the best team in the league. Coming off of a season where he averaged 15.2 points, 4.2 boards and 3.8 assists, Berry’s role as go-to-guy will become all the more important with second-leading scorer Scott Bamforth gone.


  • Kareem Jamar, Montana: Jamar isn’t flashy, but he’s one of the best all-around players in the country (14.2 points, 5.9 boards, 4.0 assists).
  • Troy Huff, North Dakota: At 6-foot-8, Huff puts up huge numbers (19.2 points, 6.9 boards, 2.4 steals) and does stuff like this.
  • Derrick Barden, Northern Colorado: Listed as 6-foot-5 but closer to 6-foot-3, Barden (13.5 points, 8.8 boards) is the Big Sky version of the old man at the park.
  • Venky Jois, Eastern Washinton: The Aussie could end up being the most productive player in the league as a sophomore (12.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 2.4 bpg).



1. Weber State
2. Montana
3. North Dakota
4. Eastern Washington
5. Northern Colorado
6. Montana State
7. Northern Arizona
8. Sacramento State
9. Portland State
10. Idaho State
11. Southern Utah

Patrick Mitchell on going from DI hoops to Australian Rules Football

AFL Rd 9 - Fremantle v Melbourne
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The NCAA loves to tell you how most scholar-athletes “go pro in something else”.

For former North Dakota forward Patrick Mitchell, that meant that he went to work for a casino in his native Iowa after a short stint playing basketball in Portugal. His professional sports aspirations seemed to be in the rear-view mirror, until he received an unexpected phone call from a representative of the Australian Football League.

“He invited me to a USA AFL combine in L.A.,” Mitchell told NBCSports by phone. “There were about 50 guys. From there, three people got invited to Sydney, and I was one of the three. I ended up being signed by the Sydney Swans.”

As it turned out, Mitchell is the beneficiary of a controversial personnel decision known down under as The Canadian Experiment. The Swans took a flyer on Canadian rugby player Mike Pyke in 2009, and the transplant went from presumptive bust to one of the best players in the Aussie game.

Vindicated by Pyke’s success, the Swans went prospecting again. They logged into the popular basketball stats service Synergy and began homing in on players who had the requisite skills, no matter where they called home.

“They punched in rebounds and blocks per minute. They were looking for taller guys who could jump and had good timing,” the 6’8″, 220-lb. Mitchell said. “They recruited me to play a special position in the AFL called Ruckman, where the job is to jump up and catch the ball when it’s in the air.”

Unlike in U.S. football – a game Mitchell played in high school – the AFL ball becomes airborne when kicked. Players running with the ball are required to bounce it, however, and the most spectacular catches can be made with the assistance of a grounded teammate.

“There’s a catch called a ‘necker’ where you jump up on a teammate’s shoulders to go after the ball,” Mitchell said. He learned all the AFL slang – including selling the candy, coathangers, magoos and daisycutters – during a special July boot camp in Sydney. Paul Roos, the Swans mentor who initiated the Canadian Experiment, put Mitchell through his paces before signing him to a two-year contract.

Mitchell acknowledged that learning the new game will be difficult. He’ll move to Sydney in October and get to work preparing for the constant, grueling motion of the game, and, of course, the brutal, bone-crunching tackles. Should the ‘basketballer experiment’ pay off, Mitchell could point the way to greater opportunities overseas for other U.S. big men.

All he has to learn is how not to shank the prune, and it should all play out just fine.

Fate of North Dakota’s “Fighting Sioux” nickname rests in hands of state voters


They may be Great West Conference champions, but the North Dakota Fighting Sioux are in for another battle.

Their nickname, the Fighting Sioux, is under review in the state’s primary Tuesday and, depending on the outcome, we could see another instance of a team forced to change its name after being deemed “hostile and abusive” by the NCAA.

We’ve seen teams change names in the past, notably the St. John’s Redmen becoming the Red Storm, and Marquette changing from the Warriors to the Golden Eagles.

The North Dakota state legislature repealed a law that required the school to continue using the nickname, meaning that a “yes” vote would likely call for a name change, though supporters of the moniker have vowed to resume the battle this fall.

North Dakota alumni vice president has voiced his concern over what keeping the nickname could mean for the future of the school’s athletic program.

“I think that over the course of time our case has gotten stronger and stronger,” O’Keefe told the Associated Press. “Listening to the coaches last week tell the story about the reality of how they are being impacted by scheduling and recruiting … the facts are the facts.”

The Fighting Sioux won the Great West title this past season, defeating NJIT, 75-60, in the title game.

The Great West does not receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, though the Fighting Sioux went on to compete in the CIT. They lost to Drake in the first round, finishing the season with an overall record of 17-15.

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