A look at your college hoops weekend

0 Comments

Friday night not only brings with it the weekend — and who doesn’t love the weekend — it brings with it the first games that aren’t associated with the first real day of games. There are 134 in all. 16 ranked teams play. 34 games are against opponents that are not D-I. We have tip-offs at 1:00 pm EST, 2:30 am EST, and everywhere in between. Should I mention that 103 more games tip of on Saturday and Sunday?

College basketball is back. This time in full force.

Here is your guide to the season’s first real day of college basketball. Rejoice!

AP

UPSET SPECIAL

Fri. 7:00pm: No. 21 Georgetown @ Old Dominion: To be perfectly honest, calling an Old Dominion win in this game an upset is probably doing a disservice to the Monarchs. Georgetown may have a loaded back court headlined by Big East preseason player of the year Austin Freeman, but ODU is a big, physical, defensive-minded team that beat Notre Dame in the tournament last season.

Watch for a kid by the name of Kent Bazemore on ODU. He’s a terrific defender that should give Freeman fits. The last three times these two teams have played, the road team has won, including two ODU victories at McDonough Arena on the Georgetown campus. Will it be four?


UPSET ALERT

Fri. 7:00 pm: William & Mary @ Virginia: The Cavaliers certainly shouldn’t be considered a powerhouse program these days, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are in the ACC. And William & Mary is in the CAA. UVa is still adjusting to head coach Tony Bennett, but they have a decent combination of freshmen and seniors, including KT Harrell and Mike Scott. But the Tribe proved last season they were capable of being the big boys with wins over Maryland and Wake Forest. Could this be the trifetca?

Fri. 7:00 pm: Lipscomb @ No. 9 North Carolina: Hear me out on this, I have a valid point, I swear. UNC is a young team that will be relying on a number of freshmen and unproven sophomores, namely Harrison Barnes and John Henson, and are very thin inside. Lipscomb has Adnan Hodzic on their roster, a 6’9″ bruiser that is the NCAA’s leading returning scorer. Also, this would double as a chance to see freshman Harrison Barnes play his first career game. So there’s that, too.

Fri. 8:00 pm: Wofford @ Minnesota: With Trevor Mbakwe now legally cleared to participate, the Gophers are a team that a lot of people are picking to be a sleeper in the Big Ten. But Wofford, the same Wofford that nearly beat Wisconsin in the NCAA Tournament last season. The Terriers are led by Minnesota native Noah Dahlmann, who is one of the best mid-major players in the country.

Fri. 9:00 pm: James Madison @ No. 3 Kansas State: Kansas State may be the best team in the Big XII, but the Dukes of JMU have one of the best 1-2 punches in all of mid-major basketball in Denzel Bowles and Julius Wells.

Fri. 9:00 pm: Oakland @ West Virginia: Oakland center Keith Benson needs to prove to scouts that he is stronger is he wants to be an NBA lottery pick. Playing against West Virginia’s front line is a great opportunity to do that.

BEST MATCHUPS

Fri. 7:30 pm: Seton Hall @ No. 22 Temple: Temple has one of the stingiest defenses in the country. Seton Hall — at least the Seton Hall that played for Bobby Gonzalez last season — loved to score. Seton Hall is trying to earn a tournament berth this season. Beating the Owls on the road is a great way to start. There are a number of neat story lines involving the Hall: Herb Pope’s recovery, Jeremy Hazell’s maturation, Kevin Willard’s first game coming against a terrific defense, the Pirate’s being underrated.

Fri. 9:00 pm: Fresno State @ BYU: Everyone knows about Jimmer Fredette. But does anyone know about Greg Smith? The Bulldog big man has a chance to be the best player in the WAC this season.

Fri. 10:00 pm: Morgan State @ Loyola Marymount: LMU has a chance to be a good team this year. How good? They should compete for the second spot in the WCC. Morgan State lost Reggie Holmes, they still return big man and MEAC preseason player of the year Kevin Thompson.

Sat. 9:05 pm: Weber State @ Utah State: Rivals in the state of Utah, this could actually turn out to be the best game of the weekend, and not just because USU has an awesome home court. The Aggies are the favorite to win the WAC — and by a good margin, this is one of the better teams Stew Morrill has had. And while Weber State lost three starters, they return Damian Lillard, who may be the best guard you’ve never seen play.

MOST INTERESTING STORYLINES

Friday:

  • 7:00 pm: North Carolina A&T @ No. 5 Ohio State: Is Jared Sullinger for real?
  • 7:00 pm: East Tennessee State @ No. 10 Kentucky: How will the ‘Cats handle the news that Enes Kanter is ineligible?
  • 7:00 pm: Stony Brook @ UConn: Jim Calhoun kicks off a season under the veil of potential NCAA sanctions.
  • 7:00 pm: Northern Iowa @ No. 13 Syracuse: The Panthers kick off the post Ali Farokhmanesh era while dealing with the fact that their program is at risk of being cut by the school.
  • 7:30 pm: Mississippi Valley State @ Georgia: How long will an ankle injury keep out Trey Thompkins?
  • 8:00 pm: Longwood @ No. 7 Kansas: Josh Selby anyone?
  • 9:00 pm: Chattanooga @ No. 20 Tennessee: How long is Bruce Pearl going to have a job in Knoxville?
  • 9:00 pm: Centenary @ No. 19 Memphis: This is the kick off to Centenary’s last season at the D-I level.
  • 9:00 pm: Northwestern @ Northern Illinois: The Wildcats begin their march to their first NCAA Tournament. Ever.
  • 9:30 pm: Grambling State @ No. 14 Baylor: When will LaceDarius Dunn be eligible?

Saturday:

  • 5:05 pm: Montana @ Nevada: Nevada is leaving the WAC. The WAC tried to get Montana to replace them. Montana said no.
  • 8:00 pm: Hendrix College @ Central Arkansas: The Big Nasty aka Corliss Williamson is the head coach at Central Arkansas.

Sunday:

  • 5:00 pm: Princeton @ No. 1 Duke: No. 1 finally takes the floor!
  • 5:00 pm: Howard @ No. 8 Purdue: We get our first glimpse of the Hummel-less Boilermakers against a team that lost a key freshman to a torn acl last week.


Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

uconn
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
0 Comments

STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

Getty Images
0 Comments

TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

Getty Images
1 Comment

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.