11/29 – College Hoops Week in Review: The A-10’s struggles and the Big East’s success

0 Comments

Game of the Week: Xavier 94, Wofford 90 3OT

This was far from the only exciting overtime game this week (and it wasn’t even the longest — Skidmore and Southern Vermont dueled for seven overtimes), but this was probably the best. Xavier was up 44-33 in the second half, but a 25-6 Terrier run left the Muskies down 58-50 with just 4:23 left on the clock, Chris Mack called a timeout and challenged his team. “I thought our kids in the huddle challenged one another, took the challenge from the coaching staff, and were able to put consecutive stops out on the defensive side of the floor to eventually get us back in the game,” Mack said.

It worked. Xavier got the stops they needed, using a 12-4 push to force OT. After an exciting back and forth that featured missed free throws and clutch buckets by both teams, the Terriers found themselves up three on the final possession. Wofford fouled Xavier’s Dante Jackson with 2.2 seconds left on the clock. Jackson made the first, missed the second, and this happened:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDVg7ymbaZw&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3]

In the second overtime, Xavier jumped out to a four point lead, but a basket and a three gave Wofford the lead back. After trading buckets — and after both teams made 1-2 free throws, the game was tied and Wofford had the ball. Cameron Rundles hit a jumper at the buzzer, but as you can see here, the shot came after the buzzer, forcing a third overtime:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhFkmV9qB0g&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3]

In the third overtime, Wofford scored to tie it up with just over 40 seconds left, but a Tu Holloway floater with 9.7 seconds left gave Xavier the lead. They would get a stop and hit two free throws for the win.

The win was another escape by a Xavier team that has struggled so far thus season. The biggest issue right now appears to be depth. All of Xavier’s starters logged at least 40 minutes and the Muskies only got three points from their bench. But, hey, a win is a win, and Xavier improves to 5-1 on the season.

The other good games:

  • BYU had a couple of exciting finishes. Against South Florida, the Cougars needed two overtimes before this buzzer beater by Noah Hartsock won the game:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpBEqipdiU4&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3]

  • BYU also took on St. Mary’s in a game that had another terrific finish. It was this dagger with just 10.26 seconds (I have no idea why the clock went to hundreths of a second) from Jimmer Fredette that won it for the Cougars:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqfbJeSYpqY&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3]

  • Butler led by as much as nine points in the second half against Evansville, but the Purple Aces made a 22-8 run to take a 58-53 lead with just over three minutes left. Butler rallied, tying the game on two Zach Hahn free throws with eight seconds left. In overtime, Denver Holmes hit 1 three with 17.7 seconds left before fouling Shelvin Mack on a three with seven seconds on the clock. Mack missed the second free throw, then missed the third intentionally. After an Evansville free throw, Mack missed a game-tying three pointer for a 71-68 loss.
  • Trey Thompkins tipped in a missed shot with 10.4 seconds left to force the first overtime, then Ben Hansbrough his 1-2 free throws with 4.7 seconds left to force the second overtime. In the second extra frame, Tim Abromaitis and Eric Atkins both hit big jumpers for an 89-83 win.
  • Texas State was down 31 points to Our Lady of the Lake with 8:31 left in the game, but used a 44-13 run to tie the game at 108. In the extra frame OLotL hit a three on their final possession for a 127-126 upset.
  • South Carolina needed a three with 20.7 seconds left to force over time, then a short jumper from Sam Muldrow to force a second OT. In the second extra frame, South Carolina took a two point lead with 4.4 seconds left and Western Kentucky was unable to get shot off and the Gamecocks won 87-85.
  • Boston College went up 66-62 with a minute left in the game, but after a BJ Holmes three and a free throw, the Eagles were up just 67-65. Dash Harris had a layup at the buzzer rim out.
  • Weber State was on opposite ends of great games this weekend. On Friday, after a Damian Lillard jumper gave them a 58-57 lead, Trent Lockett of Arizona State won the game with a jumper of his own the seven seconds left. On Saturday, we had the weirdest finish of the week. Lillard was called for a charge with 5.7 seconds down 81-80, but a Drake player spiked the ball. He was called for a technical, and Lillard hit both free throws for the win.

Player of the Week: Kemba Walker, UConn

This one was easy. Walker scored 29 points in the second half to lead the Huskies to a win over Wichita State, scored 30 in an upset of then No. 2 Michigan State, and went for 29 in UConn’s win over then No. 9 Kentucky in the Maui finals. He also averaged 4.0 apg and 2.7 spg while shooting 28-52 (53.8%) from the floor, 26-28 (92.9%) from the line, and 8-19 (42.5%) from three. All in all, I think Walker had a pretty good week.

The All-they-were-good-too team:

  • G: Kevin Anderson, Richmond: Anderson averaged 18.0 ppg on the week, but it was his 28 point performance in the Spider’s upset of Purdue on Saturday that earned him a spot on this list.
  • G: Jimmer Fredette, BYU: Fredette led the Cougars to a 3-0 week, averaging 24.0 ppg, 4.7 apg, and 3.0 spg, which included a number of crucial baskets in two close BYU wins.
  • F: Kris Joseph, Syracuse: Joseph shook off some early season struggles. He scored 22 points in a win over Michigan, then went for 16 second half points, finishing with 19, as the Orange beat Georgia Tech in the finals of the Legends Classic.
  • F: Terrence Jones, Kentucky: Kentucky went 2-1 in the Maui, but after their disastrous performance against UConn, some fans left unsatisfied. Jones, however, was terrific, averaging 23.0 ppg, 11.3 rpg, and 3.3 bpg for the tournament.
  • C: Keith Wright, Harvard: Wright averaged 21.5 ppg, 9.5 ppg, 3.5 apg, 3.0 bpg in a 2-0 week. Harvard knocked off Colorado this week.
  • Bench: CJ McCollum, Lehigh; Chace Stanback, UNLV; Adrian Oliver, SJSU; Kenneth Faried, Morehead State; Jamie Skeen, VCU

Team of the Week: UNLV Runnin’ Rebels

After last season ended, the talk of the MWC was BYU and Jimmer Fredette. Early in the season, the toast of the league has been San Diego State after the Aztecs went into Spokane and beat Gonzaga. And, of course, there was the obligatory “wait until New Mexico gets Drew Gordon” references. UNLV, on the other hand, started the season out without star Tre’Von Willis and was, for the most part, the afterthought when discussing four potential bids for the conference.

But UNLV has put those thoughts on hold. Heading into the 76 Classic in Anaheim coming off of a 68-65 win over Wisconsin, the Rebels had a ton of confidence, and that roll continued with their impressive showing out west. UNLV knocked off Tulsa, Murray State, and Virginia Tech en route to the tournament title. More impressive, they did it with Willis looking slow and out of shape. There are few teams in the country as fu to watch as UNLV. They play with essentially four guards (Chace Stanback gets the majority of his minutes as a power forward) and press for 40 minutes. At every spot on the perimeter, they have athletes that can shoot, penetrate, and pass the ball. This club understands what they want to do on each offensive possession. This could very well be the best team in the MWC, which is saying quite a bit.

The Atlantic 10 could be in trouble this season. We already noted Xavier’s troubles early in the season. Temple, the only ranked team in the Old Spice Classic, ended up losing two of their three games, and not in impressive fashion either. They were dropped by Cal in a game the Owls looked largely uninterested in, then they proceeded to lose to a Texas A&M team that lost to Boston College who lost to Yale. Ok, that doesn’t mean much, but a 1-2 performance in a tournament with a field that was largely mediocre is not a good sign for a team that was expected to be the best in the Atlantic 10.

And then there is Dayton. If we had an award for worst team of the week, that would go to the Flyers. Dayton lost to Cincinnati 68-34, and it wasn’t even that close. At one point in the second half, the score was 56-19. This is the same Cincinnati team that will likely finish well done in the bottom half of the Big East. Charlotte, URI, and St. Louis have all looked unimpressive as well.

If there is any saving grace, its that Richmond went into Chicago and knocked off Purdue. But that same Richmond team also has a double overtime loss to Iona on their resume this season. So there’s that.

While the A-10 struggles, the Big East looks like they may have been slept on this season. Seven teams in the conference either won or made the finals of their respective early season tournament:

  • UConn beat Wichita State and upset Michigan State and Kentucky to win the Maui Invitational.
  • Syracuse beat Michigan and Georgia Tech to win the Legends Classic.
  • Notre Dame notched wins over Georgia, Cal, and Wisconsin to with the Old Spice Classic.
  • St. John’s beat Arizona State in the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout.
  • Pitt won the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic by beating Maryland and Texas in NYC.
  • Georgetown won the Charleston Classic with a win over NC State in the finals.
  • Villanova lost to Tennessee in the finals of the Preseason NIT.
  • West Virginia beat Vanderbilt in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off before losing to Minnesota in the finals.

Everyone know about Pitt and Villanova coming into the season. Everyone expected good things from Georgetown, Syracuse, and West Virginia. But with Louisville’s impressive start, UConn and Notre Dame’s big tournament wins, and Marquette, Seton Hall, and St. John’s still waiting in the wings, the Big East looks like they will once again have a deep conference with quite a few tournament teams.

The Old Spice Classic managed to set records on back-to-back days for offensive futility. On Thursday, Wisconsin and Manhattan slogged their way to a 17-10 score at the half. The 27 points were the fewest ever scored in the first half since the advent of the shot clock. The previous record came on January 8th, 2003, when Ole Miss took a 15-13 lead into the break against South Carolina. It got worse the next night, as Notre Dame took a 21-5 lead into the half against Cal. The Bears, who came one point away from the record for the worse half in the shot-clock era (Savannah State scored four points in the second half against Kansas State), were 2-25 from the field and didn’t score a point for the last 10:44 of the half. They had twice as many turnovers (11) as points (5), and more than four times as many fouls (9) as field goals (2).

Interestingly enough, its not even the D-I record. North Carolina Central took a 13-5 lead at the break against (guess who!) Savannah State last year. But since NCCU was still a D-I provisional last season, the record isn’t officially the “record”, which may actually be a positive. That game ended up going to overtime tied at 34, which may also set a record for free basketball that least the number of people wanted to see.

Other Notes from the week that was:

  • Butler is a long way from where they were last season. Evansville is a bottom feeder in the Missouri Valley, and they went into Hinkle Field house and beat the Bulldogs. That is not a good sign, and not having Ronald Nored is not an excuse.
  • I saw Harvard play earlier this year. They were thoroughly beaten by a thoroughly mediocre George Mason team. Colorado just lost to the Crimson by 16 points, dropping the “sleeper” Buffaloes to 2-3 on the season. The worst part? Harvard’s best player (Kyle Casey) played 13 minutes off the bench as he tries to come back from a broken bone in his foot.
  • Duke really is that good. Like, seriously. (Post coming on this.)
  • The Pac-10 will get, at best, two teams into the NCAA Tournament. That I am sure of. Well, for now. Washington will be fine once they determine who their late-game scorer is. Arizona, and Derrick Williams, had an impressive showing against Kansas. But Cal? All that good will from beating New Mexico and Temple went out the window with their five point first half performance against Notre Dame and their 22 point whooping at the hands of Boston College. Arizona State? They were manhandled in the paint by Justin Brownlee of Saturday night in the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout. And UCLA? I saw them twice this weekend in NYC. They don’t have the defense or the point guard to be a tournament team.

Matchups of the Week:

  • The ACC/Big Ten Challenge (see here) headlines the week
  • 11/30 – 9:00 pm: Georgetown vs. Missouri
  • 12/1 – 8:05 pm: BYU @ Creighton
  • 12/1 – 10:30 pm: St. Mary’s @ San Diego State
  • 12/2 – 7:00 pm: Arizona State @ Baylor
  • 12/2 – 9:00 pm: UCLA @ Kansas
  • 12/3 – 7:30 pm: St. Joe’s @ Villanova
  • 12/3 – 11:00 pm: Kansas State @ Washington State
  • 12/4 – 12:00 pm: Utah State @ Georgetown
  • 12/4 – 12:30 pm: Kentucky @ UNC
  • 12/4 – 3:15 pm: Butler vs. Duke in New Jersey
  • 12/4 – 5:15 pm: NC State @ Syracuse
  • 12/4 – 5:15 pm: Illinois @ Gonzaga
  • 12/4 – 10:05 pm: Wichita State @ San Diego State
  • 12/5 – 2:00 pm: Richmond @ Arizona State
  • 12/5 – 8:00 pm: Temple @ Maryland

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

NCAA steering farther and farther away from harsh penalties

ncaa
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
2 Comments

The days of postseason bans and crippling scholarship reductions to punish schools for breaking NCAA rules appear to be winding down.

Memphis was placed on three years of probation earlier this week with a public reprimand and fined for NCAA violations related to the recruitment and short college career of James Wiseman, who is about to start his third season with the Golden State Warriors. The NCAA also wrapped up an investigation of Air Force football for breaking the COVID-19 recruiting quiet period.

No postseason bans or scholarship reductions in either case. The Independent Accountability Review Panel, the NCAA’s outside arm of enforcement, said in its decision in the Memphis case that it did not want to punish current athletes.

That sentiment is widespread in college athletics these days, even with millions of dollars suddenly flowing to athletes from various sources for their celebrity endorsements amid concerns over improper inducements. In fact, it is on the way to being codified: Last month, the Division I Board of Directors adopted three proposals to change the infractions process.

The board also committed to “identifying appropriate types of penalties and modifying current penalty ranges, including identifying potential alternative penalties to postseason bans.”

Trying to predict what those alternatives will be is difficult, but if the goal is to avoid harming athletes and others who were not involved in the violations the options are limited.

“I emphatically believe it’s the wrong direction to go,” said Nebraska law professor Jo Potuto, who spent nine years on the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“If you’re going to deter, the punishment has to fit the offense, right?” Potuto added. “You’re not going to deter serious violations with penalties that are not perceived to be really serious.”

Since January 2020, there have been at least 45 major infractions cases decided by the NCAA. Of those, at least 15 involved Level I allegations, the most serious and those carrying the most severe penalties; six cases resulted in some kind of postseason ban, with four of them self-imposed.

The Memphis case went through the IARP, which was created in response to the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption but is now being discontinued. Sunsetting the IARP was among several recommendations put forth by the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee earlier this year and recently adopted by the board.

As college sports moves toward less centralized governance by the NCAA and deregulation in general, the hope is to create a more streamlined enforcement process.

If justice is swift, the thinking goes, it is more likely to be applied fairly.

“The reality is the current system is broken,” said Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips, a member of the transformation committee. “I think everyone in the association, in the enterprise, understands it. When (an investigation) takes the amount of time that it does now and you start to penalize young men and women that were high school, if not middle school-age (when the violation occurred), it’s not an effective process.”

The IARP is still handling cases stemming from the FBI probe involving Louisville, Arizona, Kansas and LSU. Those have been in the NCAA enforcement pipeline for years. A related case against Oklahoma State did not go through IARP and the Cowboys did end up with a postseason ban.

David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University and former compliance director for several schools, said even though the IARP failed, NCAA enforcement would be best handled by an independent organization.

“No system is perfect, but if you’re going to have an enforcement system at the end of the day you need to provide basic due-process protections and then you have to be able to consistently punish people,” he said.

In the Memphis case, Wiseman received $11,500 from Hardaway in 2017 while Hardaway was coach at a local high school. Hardaway was hired as Memphis’ coach in March 2018, and Wiseman committed to the Tigers in November 2018.

The NCAA accused Memphis of four Level I and two Level II violations, including lack of institutional control, head coach responsibility and failure to monitor. In the past, those types of allegations could strike fear into athletic directors but probation and fines seem much more likely to be the outcome now instead of the sweeping scholarship sanctions, vacated victories and postseason ban that Southern California received in 2010 for the Reggie Bush improper benefits case. Those penalties set USC football back years.

In the end, the IARP essentially reduced the charges against Memphis and cleared Hardaway of wrongdoing.

While the NCAA is losing sway in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling, with more power being shifted to its member conferences, it also remains clear the schools still want the association to handle enforcement.

But what exactly is being enforced?

Athletes can now be paid for endorsement and sponsorship deals and college sports is still waiting on and hoping for help from federal lawmakers to regulate name, image and likeness compensation.

Plus, as revenue skyrockets for schools at the top of major college sports, the NCAA is trending toward fewer restrictions on what financial benefits can be provided to athletes.

“Until we have clarity and certainty on what schools and boosters and athletes can and can’t do, I think many recognize that it’s dangerous to hand down significant punishments when it’s not clear what you can and can’t do,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane. “And I think unless you have clear rules, it’s hard to harsh punishment.”

Still, punishments directed at schools (fines) and coaches (suspensions) could become steeper and longer, Feldman said.

Potuto said with so much money flowing into the top of college athletics, it is doubtful fines could be large enough to be a true deterrent. While she understands the desire to not have current athletes pay for the sins of previous regimes, loosened transfer rules could mitigate the potential harm.

“I will make one prediction: If there is a move to impose penalties much less frequently in five years there is going to be a move to put them back in,” Potuto said.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

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
2 Comments

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.