HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The NCAA says it has ruled on the eligibility of Connecticut recruit Sidney Wilson and informed the school of that decision last month.
Wilson, who transferred from St. John’s after taking a single summer school class, has been waiting to hear if he can play this season. The 6-foot-7 highly recruited wing is seeking an NCAA waiver rather than sit out a year as a transfer student.
UConn says it won’t comment on the NCAA’s decision until the process is fully complete.
NCAA spokeswoman Michelle Hosick declined to detail the decision, but said UConn was notified verbally on Dec. 20 and in writing on Dec. 22. She says the school has 30 days to appeal any part of the ruling, but had not filed such an appeal as of Wednesday afternoon.
The Huskies (7-6, 0-1 American) have played three games without Wilson since the decision was issued. They face Tulsa on Wednesday evening.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Landry Shamet scored 16 points to lead No. 8 Wichita State to a 72-62 victory over UConn on Saturday in the Shockers’ first American Athletic Conference game.
Rashard Kelly, Conner Frankamp and Austin Reaves each added 11 points for Wichita State (11-2, 1-0) which has won three straight.
Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier each had 18 points for the Huskies (7-6, 0-1), who have lost three in a row and four of their last five. Christian Vital chipped in with 17 points for UConn.
The Shockers led by four points at the half and the game was tied at 49 with just over 9 minutes left. But Wichita State took control with a 15-6 run and held on from there.
UConn eschewed its traditional man-to-man defense in favor of a zone that gave Wichita State some open 3-point looks.
The Shockers went 12 of 25 from behind the arc, while the Huskies were just 3 of 16 from 3-point range.
THE BIG PICTURE.
Wichita State: The Shockers have gone 17 straight games without being outrebounded. They outrebounded UConn 47-34, including 17-8 on the offensive end.
UConn: The Huskies fall to 0-3 against ranked opponents this season. UConn lost to Michigan State 77-57 last month in the PK80 tournament, and fell last week at Arizona, 73-58. The Huskies have won just twice against ranked teams over the past four seasons.
UConn: The Huskies travel to Oklahoma to play Tulsa on Wednesday.
Wichita State: The Shockers will play their American Athletic Conference home opener on Thursday against Houston.
American Athletic Conference Reset: Is the American the seventh power conference?
College basketball’s non-conference season is finally coming to a close.
To help you shake off post-holiday haze and the hangover of losing in your fantasy football playoffs, we’ll be providing you with some midseason primers to get you caught up on all the nation’s most important conferences.
Who has been the best player in the biggest leagues?
Who is on track to get an NCAA tournament bid?
What have we learned about the conference hierarchy, and what is left for us to figure out?
We break it all down here.
Today, we’ll be taking a look at the American.
MIDSEASON AMERICAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Rob Gray Jr., Houston
While Rob Gray certainly receives his just due within the American, not too sure this can be said nationally as well. The senior’s scoring average (20.7) is only one-tenth of a point better than what he produced last season, but Gray has improved noticeably with regards to his shooting percentages. The 6-foot-2 guard is shooting 49.7 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from three and 84.6 percent from the foul line, with all three numbers being improvements from last season’s numbers (47.3, 38.2, 81.3). Gray’s also averaging 3.7 assists per game, and overall he’s been a more efficient option than he was as a junior.
THE ALL-AAC FIRST TEAM
ROB GRAY, Houston
LANDRY SHAMET, Wichita State: Shamet missed time early in the season due to a foot injury, but he’s shown why he’s considered one of the top guards in the country since returning. Shamet’s averaging 17.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game,
shooting 54.0 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from three.
SHAKE MILTON, SMU: Milton is a big reason why the Mustangs haven’t missed a beat despite losing multiple key contributors from last season’s team. The 6-foot-5 junior is averaging 17.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, leading the Mustangs in points and assists.
GARY CLARK, Cincinnati: While the 12.5 points per game may not jump off the page, keep in mind that Clark’s raised his scoring by nearly two points per game from last season and is on a team with four other players averaging at least 9.8 points per game.
Clark’s also grabbing 8.6 rebounds per night, which ranks second in the American, and he’s also fifth in the league in steals and sixth in blocked shots.
TACKO FALL, UCF: Fall’s development while at UCF has been fun to watch, and as a junior he currently leads the American in field goal percentage (78.1) and blocked shots (2.1 bpg). The 7-foot-6 Fall, who’s averaging 13.8 points per game, is also fourth in the conference in rebounding (7.8 rpg).
NCAA: Cincinnati, Wichita State, SMU, Houston
NIT:Temple, UCF, Tulsa
OTHER/NO POSTSEASON: UConn, Memphis, Tulane, USF, East Carolina
THREE THINGS WE’VE LEARNED
1. CINCINNATI CONTINUES TO DEFEND AT A HIGH LEVEL: The big question for Cincinnati entering the season is whether or not they could make strides offensively. Thus far they’re about the same from an efficiency standpoint, with this group turning the ball over a bit more but shooting better from the perimeter than last season’s group. Veterans Jacob Evans III, Gary Clark and Kyle Washington are all double-digit scorers, as is sophomore Jarron Cumberland, and Sacred Heart transfer Cane Broome has been an impact reserve.
What hasn’t changed for the Bearcats has been their effort on the defensive end of the floor, as Cincinnati is ranked fifth in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency per kenpom.com. A big reason for this is Cincinnati’s defense inside of the arc, with opponents shooting 39.4 percent from two and the Bearcats averaging a league-high 5.9 blocks per game. They don’t give up many second chances either, as Cincinnati is rebounding 74.3 percent of its opponents’ missed shots. That’s why Cincinnati enters league play as one of the favorites in the American.
2. WE’VE YET TO SEE WHAT THIS WICHITA STATE TEAM CAN BE WHEN WHOLE: While there have been some concerns voiced with regards to the Shockers defense, which is understandable given the issues in losses to Notre Dame and Oklahoma, this group isn’t too far off from what last season’s team produced from an efficiency standpoint (26th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency; 13th last season). The Shockers are ranked sixth in the American in three-point percentage defense (33.2), but they’ve done a decent job inside of the arc.
Here’s the thing: we still aren’t fully sure of what this group is capable of when whole. While Landry Shamet’s had enough time on the court to justify the preseason praise thrown his way, another key veteran just returned to the court. Markis McDuffie played nine minutes in his season debut on December 22 against FGCU, and his return gives Wichita State a versatile wing with size who can have an impact in a variety of ways. He returns to a team that currently has four double-digit scorers and a fifth option in guard Samajae Haynes-Jones who’s been an impact reserve. Once McDuffie shakes off the rust and Gregg Marshall gets the rotation to where he wants it, look out. And it’s not like they aren’t already good, either.
3. UCONN REALLY NEEDS TO MAKE SOME CHANGES OFFENSIVELY: No need to mince words here: offensively, this group is brutal. Sure there are individual talents on the roster, most notably Jalen Adams, Terry Larrier and Christian Vital, but the way in which UConn plays offensively makes things far more difficult than they need to be. According to kenpom.com just 39.0 percent of the Huskies’ made baskets have been assisted, which ranks 347th in the country. Wonder why this team’s shooting 31.0 percent from three and 40.1 percent from the field? There you go.
If UConn is to rebound from non-conference play and be a factor in the American, Kevin Ollie must figure out how to get his top options quality shots without having to rely solely upon dribble penetration. Because more often that not, especially with Alterique Gilbert sidelined by another shoulder injury, dribble the air out of the ball simply produces a challenged look. And until that occurs, it’s very difficult to envision the Huskies as a team capable of challenging the best teams in the American.
THREE STORYLINES TO FOLLOW
1. HOW WILL WICHITA STATE ADJUST TO ITS NEW LEAGUE?: The Shockers begin their first run through American play at UConn on December 30, and things will only get tougher from there. The home opener against Houston won’t be a cakewalk, and Wichita State also has to play Cincinnati, SMU and Temple both home and away (they’ll also face Houston twice). After being the preeminent program in the Missouri Valley, Wichita State will find more resistance at the top of the American.
That being said, Gregg Marshall’s program has done enough over the years both within its former conference home and nationally to garner a certain amount of respect. The league’s coaches picked Wichita State to finish second in the preseason poll, and in non-conference play the Shockers did little to discourage those who expect them to at the very least contend. But with the change comes getting used to new road environments and new styles of play/personnel. It will be interesting to see if there are any unexpected hiccups in Wichita State’s first run through the American.
2. THE CONFERENCE IS DEEPER THAN IT HAS BEEN IN YEAR’S PAST: While it appears that there’s some separation at the top of the American, with four teams (Wichita State, Cincinnati, SMU and Houston) being Top 40 teams according to KenPom and Temple not that far off, there are teams just outside of that quintet capable of pulling off some quality wins as well. That should make for an interesting conference slate, making it unlikely that the champion goes 17-1 like SMU did last season.
UCF has a very good front court duo in Tacko Fall and A.J. Davis, but they need B.J. Taylor to get healthy. Can UConn get its act together? How about Memphis, which for all the “doom and gloom” surrounding the program went 9-3 in non-conference play? And both Tulsa and Tulane have shown positive signs, with Junior Etou playing very well for the Golden Hurricane and Melvin Frazier and Cameron Reynolds leading the way for the Green Wave. Wichita State’s arrival gives the American another quality team to carry the banner nationally, but the middle of the pack shouldn’t be overlooked either.
3. WHAT HAPPENS WITH UCONN AND MEMPHIS?: UConn’s struggles were touched on above, with the Huskies struggling to establish itself on offense and looking downright inept in blowout losses to Arkansas and Auburn. The conference opener against Wichita State gives this proud program a chance to add a quality win to its résumé while also restoring some confidence. After leading his first team, which was dealing with a postseason ban, to 20 wins and winning a national title the following season, Kevin Ollie hasn’t been able to sustain that momentum. That has to change.
As for Memphis, the questions for Tubby Smith’s program are primarily focused on recruiting. Class of 2018 point guard Alex Lomax has committed to Wichita State, which puts the pressure on the Memphis coaching staff to keep another talented local point guard prospect in Tyler Harris home. Throughout Smith’s tenure there have been questions asked regarding the program’s ability to keep local talent home. Simply put, this is something that needs to be addressed. What can help is putting an improved product on the FedEx Forum court, but when a team’s best wins are two-point home wins over Northern Kentucky and Mercer that won’t necessarily fire up the fan base. Games against LSU and Cincinnati in the next week give Memphis the opportunity to build some momentum.
1. THE CONFERENCE CHAMPION HAS AT LEAST FOUR LOSSES IN LEAGUE PLAY: As noted above there’s no shortage of quality teams at the top of the American, especially with Wichita State now in the mix. While the prediction here is that the champion will have at least four conference losses for that reason, that would be a rarity for the American. Just once in the league’s brief history as the conference champion had four losses in league play, and that was when Temple won the conference in 2016.
That season four teams went to the NCAA tournament, and the number would have been five if not for SMU having to sit out for NCAA reasons. Expect a similar situation — without the NCAA issues, of course — with Cincinnati, Wichita State, SMU and Houston among that teams that will fight it out for the top spot.
2. FOUR TEAMS REACH THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: After seeing four teams earn NCAA bids in the aforementioned 2015-16 campaign, the American saw that number cut in half last season. The top of the conference is better this season, but based upon the NCAA’s RPI calculations (it’s not good but since they use the RPI, it’s being cited here) there is some work to be done. Temple (13th) and Wichita State (22nd) are both in the Top 25, which is particularly interesting given the Owls’ losses to La Salle (road) and George Washington (neutral).
Also, there are four other teams (Houston, UCF, SMU and Cincinnati) ranked between 62nd and 72nd in the RPI. The good news is that there will be some solid opportunities in conference play for teams to pick up quality wins. The question: how much value will the committee place on metrics such as Ken Pomeroy’s, which look at the American in a more positive light (at the top) than the RPI? Ultimately the American will do enough to get four teams into the Big Dance.
3. TWO PLAYERS SHARE PLAYER OF THE YEAR HONORS: In the first four seasons of the American one player has taken home the honors, with Shabazz Napier winning in 2014, followed by SMU players winning Player of the Year in each of the next three (Nic Moore twice, followed by Semi Ojeleye last season). Given some of the individual talents in the American, led by Houston’s Rob Gray and Wichita State’s Landry Shamet, it would not come as a surprise if two players were to share the award come season’s end. The coaches voting for such honors tend to reward winning. But if the league title race is a close one, it could result in multiple players being honored.
Auriemma wins 1000th game as UConn beats Oklahoma 88-64
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Geno Auriemma won his 1000th game as top-ranked UConn beat Oklahoma 88-64 on Tuesday night in the Hall of Fame women’s Holiday Showcase.
Auriemma became the fourth women’s coach to reach the 1,000-win mark, joining Pat Summitt, Tara VanDerveer and Sylvia Hatchell, who earned her milestone victory earlier Tuesday. Mike Krzyzewski is the only men’s coach to have won 1,000 games.
He is the fastest to achieve the mark, doing so in his 1,135th game. The Hall of Fame coach has gone 500-36 since winning his 500th game in 2003. That includes winning 100 of his last 101 contests.
Sitting by Auriemma’s side for the 1,000 wins has been associate head coach Chris Dailey. She’s been with Auriemma since he took over at UConn in 1985. Dailey led the Huskies to seven of those victories while filling in as head coach. Auriemma was suspended for four games in 1989 for playing an extra game that season. That year, the Huskies won their first Big East tournament title with Dailey at the helm.
She also coached three games when Auriemma’s father died in 1997. All seven of those wins are credited to Auriemma.
As the final buzzer sounded, the Huskies dumped Gatorade buckets full of confetti on Auriemma and Dailey.
Players from Auriemma’s first team in 1985 that beat Iona for win No. 1 were in attendance and introduced to the sellout crowd. Fans held up signs they were given that said “GEN1000 career wins.”
Auriemma was presented with his Hall of Fame jacket and a cake from the Mohegan Sun where the game was played. A video was played that included tributes from former players like Breanna Stewart, who won 151 games at UConn — second most of all time.
“Wow coach, 1000 wins!!!! You have created and are continuing to create an untouchable legacy in the world of sports, let alone basketball,” Stewart told The Associated Press in a text. “We set the bar high at UConn and you have continued to do that. I’m so happy to say that I am a part of your 1,000 wins!”
UConn (9-0) led 48-33 at the break before Oklahoma cut its deficit to seven midway through the third quarter, shocking the crowd. The Huskies responded with a 13-3 run to close the period that was capped by a steal off an inbounds play for a layup by Katie Lou Samuelson to give UConn a 64-47 advantage headed into the fourth quarter. Napheesa Collier, who scored 21 points to lead the Huskies, had seven of them during the spurt.
The Huskies got a scare when Gabby Williams went down in the first quarter after picking up her second foul. The senior forward went to the locker room for a bit before coming back to the bench later in the period. She came back in before picking up a third foul early in the second quarter.
Maddie Manning scored 15 points to lead Oklahoma (5-6).
Oklahoma: This was the second time that the Sooners were facing a coach going for a 1,000th victory. Oklahoma beat Tennessee in Pat Summitt’s first attempt at 1,000.
UConn: The Huskies have never lost to Oklahoma in 11 meetings. The two teams hadn’t played since 2012 until Tuesday night. … Auriemma has gone 246-62 (.798) against ranked teams in his career. … UConn freshman Megan Walker missed the game with the flu.
Oklahoma: The Sooners host No. 8 Texas on Dec. 28 to open Big 12 play.
UConn: Heads to Toronto to play Duquesne in a homecoming game for Canadian Kia Nurse on Friday.
UConn PG Jalen Adams reinstated following 1-game suspension
UConn will have a key cog in its attack available for Tuesday’s game against Stony Brook, as head coach Kevin Ollie announced Monday that point guard Jalen Adams has been reinstated after being suspended for the team’s 70-58 win over Colgate on Friday.
Adams was suspended after being issued a misdemeanor summons for leaving the scene of a scooter accident. According to reports Adams was one of four men racing on scooters, with the junior point guard getting onto another person’s scooter after crashing his own. Adams was not injured in the accident, and he is due to appear at Rockville Superior Court on November 21.
Adams started 32 games for UConn last season, leading the team in both scoring and assists with averages of 14.4 points and 6.1 assists per game. Adams, who played an average of 35.5 minutes per contest in 2016-17, also averaged 4.3 rebounds per game.
With Adams out of the lineup, Ollie called upon redshirt freshman Alterique Gilbert and grad student Antwoine Anderson as his starting guards in Friday’s win over Colgate. In a game headlined by Terry Larrier scoring 27 points in his return to the court after suffering a torn ACL last season, Gilbert was also making his return from injury. Gilbert played 31 minutes, finishing with four points (2-for-13 FG), six rebounds, three assists and one turnover.
Anderson, who arrived at UConn by way of Fordham, joined Larrier in double figures with 12 points, while also dishing out six assists with just one turnover.
UConn’s Jalen Adams charged after crashing during on-campus motorized scooter race
The police report of the incident had three witnesses who saw four males racing on four separate scooters. One of the riders crashed his scooter and got onto the back of another one as the group fled the scene. Police soon caught up with the group and Adams admitted to participating in the race before crashing and leaving the scene. Adams was given a misdemeanor summons.
This wasn’t exactly a Dominic Toretto-level street race featuring high-octane vehicles, but you have to wonder what Adams was thinking getting into a race like that on the eve of the regular season. Thankfully, nobody appears to be injured after the accident.
Adams was suspended from practice on Thursday and his status with the team will be evaluated on a day-by-day basis, according to a release from the school.
UConn opens its season on Friday at home against Colgate.