1/10 – College Hoops Week in Review: And we’re going to overtime

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Game of the Week: UConn 82, Texas 81 OT

With all due respect to Georgetown and Missouri, I think we have a new favorite for Game of the Year. This one was wild. Kemba Walker didn’t score until there was 2:32 left in the first half. He had just five points at the break, but despite that the Huskies were only down 37-32 at intermission. Walker was still cold in the second half, but Texas couldn’t put the Huskies away. Down 48-41 with with 15 minutes left, UConn went on a 27-11 run sparked by Shabazz Napier and Roscoe Smith. Once again, UConn did it without much help from Walker, who had five points during that stretch.

Texas had an answer, however. Tristan Thompson sparked a 12-2 run with six points, and with 1:33 left in the game, a short jumper by J’Covan Brown gave Texas the lead. (The Longhorns would have been ahead earlier if it wasn’t for this blunder by Jordan Hamilton, which wasn’t even the dumbest play of the game.) At the other end, Walker came through in the clutch — something that would become a familiar theme here — with a gorgeous, and-one, reverse layup to put UConn up 73-71. After two J’Covan Brown free throws and a missed Walker jumper, Texas had a chance to win it it in regulation. Johnson had his shot blocked with 14 seconds left. Smith gathered the ball and threw it 85 feet at the basket with 10 seconds left in the game.

Texas had another shot to win it, but Brown missed a short jumper in the lane. In overtime, UConn took the lead on three separate occasions, the third of which was a 40 foot prayer by Kemba Walker to beat the shot clock. Texas had an answer every time, and after Walker’s 40 footer, Cory Joseph and Hamilton both knocked down midrange jumpers to give Texas the lead with under a minute left. After both teams had empty possessions, UConn ended up with the ball with time winding down, setting up these heroics from Walker:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/-DqIK-j4tfM?fs=1&hl=en_US]

Triple Overtimes: We had three of them this weekend. Believe it or not, both St. Bonaventure and Ohio — who played a four overtime game earlier in the season — were involved in one.

  • UAB 100, UTEP 97: Randy Culpepper scored 30 of his 34 points in regulation, but it was a Christian Polk three as time expired that forced the first overtime. In the first extra frame, it was Culpepper’s turn for some heroics, and he drained a three — his second attempt in the last five seconds — from the corner to force a second overtime. Claude Britton, who scored all of his 14 points after regulation, scored to give UTEP a 97-94 lead with over a minute left, but a three from Preston Purifoy followed by a three from deep in the corner by Cameron Moore (who had 29 points and 14 boards, 26 coming after halftime) with five seconds left gave the Blazers the win. Culpepper missed a 35 foot prayer that would have forced a fourth OT. Of note — Aaron Johnson had 26 points, 14 assists, and 7 boards in the win.
  • St. Bonaventure 92, Charlotte 88: Andrew Nicholson had 34 points for the Bonnies, who took a 40-28 lead at the half. Charlotte would storm back to take a 68-66 lead, but Da’Quan Cook hit two free throws with 12 seconds left to force overtime. In the first and second overtimes, both teams had a multiple chances to win the game late, missing each time. Then in the third OT, the Bonnies finally built a lead, hitting nine of their 10 free throws to knock off Canisius.
  • Miami OH 92, Ohio 88: One of the most underrated rivalries in the country had a wild second half. After the game was tied at the break, Miami went on a run to take a 47-39 lead. Ohio answered with a 19-7 run, and Miami answered that by scoring nine of the next 11 points. The end of regulation was anti-climatic, but after DJ Cooper had given Ohio a three point lead to start overtime, he had to hit a three with 39 seconds left to tie the game and force a second OT. The Redhawks eventually pulled away in the third overtime, as 26 points and 12 boards from Ivo Baltic was more than Cooper’s 27 points and 11 assists could overcome.

Player of the Week: Jimmer Fredette, BYU

BYU went 2-0 this week, beating UNLV and a better-than-expected Air Force team to start MWC play. Against UNLV, Fredette had one of the most dominant individual performances of the season. BYU was down 25-15 with under six minutes to go in the first half when Fredette finally caught fire, sparking a 37-13 run over a 12 minutes span. When the run started, Fredette was just 1-7 from the floor and 0-3 from three with three points. By the time the night was over, Fredette had 39 points on 12-25 shooting and 7-13 from three and BYU had won 89-77 in a game that wasn’t that close. You want a sense of how hot Fredette was? Check out where he hit this three from:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/M9uBmX21Vkw?fs=1&hl=en_US]

That kid of game had to feel very good for Fredette considering some of the comments made by Tre’Von Willis during the week. It is because of performances like the one he had against UNLV that when Fredette had 22 points against Air Force it seems pedestrian. Think about that for a second. You can legitimately say that Air Force played well because they “held” Fredette to 22 points.

The All-they-were-good-too team

  • G: Ben Hansbrough, Notre Dame: Hansbrough was fantastic in a 2-0 week for the Irish. He had 21 points and played 40 minutes chasing around Kemba Walker in a 73-70 win over the Huskies. He then went out and dropped 26 as Notre Dame beat St. John’s.
  • G: Charles Jenkins, Hofstra: If you haven’t seen this kid play yet this year, its about time you started to tune into the CAA. The Pride went 3-0 this week, winning at Drexel and Northeastern and also knocking off George Mason, to move into first place in the conference at 4-0. Jenkins was fantastic, averaging 25.0 ppg and 6.3 apg while turning the ball over just five times.
  • F: Alec Burks, Colorado: Burks averaged 28.0 ppg for the week, but it was his 36-point, eight-rebound performance in an upset of No. 8 Missouri that got him on this list.
  • F: Sam Muldrow, South Carolina: If you are in a college basketball fantasy league, I suggest you pick up Muldrow. He averaged 15.5 ppg, 12.5 rpg, and 8.0 bpg this week, including notching a triple double — 16 points, 14 boards, 10 blocks — as the Gamecocks upset Vanderbilt in overtime.
  • C: Nikola Vucevic and Alex Stephenson, USC: The Trojans starting front court combined for 33 points and 20 boards in a win over UCLA.
  • Bench: Justin Harper, Richmond; Casey Mitchell, West Virginia; Mike James, Lamar; Cameron Moore, UAB

Team of the Week: Missouri State Bears

After a 3-0 week in the Valley, Missouri State is now sitting all alone atop the MVC standings at 5-0. Making that record all the more impressive is that the Bears have already made their three toughest road trips of the season, going to Northern Iowa, Creighton, and Wichita State (the latter two both coming this past week and both now sitting at 4-1 in the league) and coming out with wins. The Bears likely won’t be getting an at-large bid this season — not with a non-conference schedule that features losses to Tennessee, Tulsa, and Oklahoma State and their best non-conference win coming against Oral Roberts — but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a good basketball team. Anyone that can go into Northern Iowa, Creighton, and Wichita State in the span of 10 days and come out unscathed is a good basketball team. Kyle Weems (14.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg) and Jermaine Mallet (10.3 ppg) led the way this week.

Teams that deserve a shoutout

  • UConn: Ranking teams is difficult to do, especially in the case of a team like UConn. After beating Texas on the road, UConn now has just two losses on the season — both to top 15 clubs on the road — and has beaten Kentucky, Texas, and Michigan State. But according to the all-encompassing eye test, this is not an elite team. Regardless of how you feel about UConn’s program, the one thing that their win at Texas does is but them the benefit of the doubt. They beat a top-15 team on the road a month and a half after they one the Maui, and they did it with Kemba Walker struggling most of the night. I still have my doubts, but until they prove otherwise, they deserve all the credit they get.
  • Austin Peay: Do we have a new favorite in the Ohio Valley Conference? The Governors went to Murray State on Saturday and knocked off the Racers, snapping a 25 game home winning streak. They are now 5-0 in conference play and hold a two game lead over both Morehead State and Murray State with a win against both. Did Fly Williams make a comeback?
  • Colorado: The Buffaloes were supposed to be a sleeper in the Big XII this season. When you have two talents like Alec Burks and Cory Higgins on your roster, that’s pretty much what is expected of you. But with losses to San Francisco and Harvard in non-conference play, it looked like this Colorado team would be reverting back to their old ways. That was until they knocked off Missouri on Saturday afternoon. Burks and Higgins combined for 54 points and 18 boards in the win. They are not going to be able to keep that up all season long, but the win is the confidence booster that this team needed. They will be an interesting team to keep an eye on.
  • Georgia: Like the Buffaloes, the Bulldogs were predicted by many to be a sleeper in the SEC. After starting the season off slowly — they only have two losses (both with Trey Thompkins slowed with an ankle injury) but their wins have been far from impressive against less than impressive competition — Georgia made a statement on Saturday by knocking off the visiting Kentucky Wildcats, who are ranked in the top 15. Trey Thompkins had 25 points in the win and finally looks like he is healthy. Expect quite a bit of noise to be made by the Bulldogs in SEC play.
  • USC: Its pretty obvious that Washington and Arizona are the two best teams in the Pac-10. After that, things get a little bit sticky. Washington State, UCLA, Cal, Arizona State, and USC are all in the mix, but two weeks into the season, it looks as if USC is the frontrunner for that gig. They are 2-1 in conference play after beating UCLA at home on Sunday night and look like a different team with Jio Fontan running the point. The problem? Those three games were at home. USC doesn’t play a real conference road game until Jan. 27th, and ends the season at Washington State and Washington.
  • Virginia Tech: I feel bad for Seth Greenberg, I really do. The year he finally puts together a brutish schedule for his team in non-conference play, he loses half of his team to injury and loses every big game he plays. Count me as one of the people pulling for this team to do well in ACC play. A win over Florida State on Saturday is a good place to start.

Matchups of the Week

  • 1/10 – 7:00 pm: Notre Dame @ Marquette
  • 1/11 – 7:00 pm: Wisconsin @ Michigan State
  • 1/11 – 9:00 pm: Florida @ Tennessee
  • 1/12 – 7:00 pm: Pitt @ Georgetown
  • 1/12 – 7:00 pm: Louisville @ Villanova
  • 1/12 – 7:00 pm: Syracuse @ St. John’s
  • 1/12 – 8:05 pm: Wichita State @ Creighton
  • 1/12 – 10:00 pm: UNLV @ San Diego State
  • 1/13 – 7:00 pm: Purdue @ Minnesota
  • 1/13 – 7:00 pm: Old Dominion @ Drexel
  • 1/14 – 11:00 am: Marquette @ Louisville
  • 1/14 – 12:00 pm: Vanderbilt @ Tennessee
  • 1/14 – 1:00 pm: Maryland @ Villanova
  • 1/14 – 3:00 pm: Illinois @ Wisconsin
  • 1/14 – 6:00 pm: San Diego State @ New Mexico
  • 1/14 – 8:00 pm: Dayton @ Xavier
  • 1/15 – 12:00 pm: Notre Dame @ St. John’s
  • 1/15 – 1:30 pm: Purdue @ West Virginia

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.