1/31 – College Hoops Week in Review: Louisville, Georgetown make a move in the Big East

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Game of the Week: Louisville 79, UConn 78 2OT

Louisville doesn’t have any one star, but Peyton Siva sure looked like he is primed to be one down the stretch against the Huskies. Louisville trailed for much of the second half, getting down by as much as nine points midway through the half. But Siva sparked a 14-3 run with an and-one bucket in the paint and capped it with two free throws that gave the Cardinals a 57-55 lead. UConn would score four straight points, but Siva broke down UConn’s defense — something that would become a common theme — and score another tough bucket in the paint with 30 seconds left to tie the game. Kemba Walker got a decent look at a jumper on the baseline, but he missed and the game headed to overtime.

In that first OT, Preston Knowles scored Louisville’s first five points, but a Shabazz Napier three and four UConn free throws gave the Huskies a 68-64 lead. After Mike Marra hit a three and Napier went 1-2 from the line, Siva again broke down the UConn defense, tying the game with a dunk in traffic. Walker had two defenders run at him and gave the ball up to Jeremy Lamb, who missed a three point floater that would have won the game.

In the second overtime, back to back threes gave the Cardinals a six point lead, and while UConn made a push, it was two driving hoops from Siva that ended being the difference. Why? Because Louisville missed three straight free throws down the stretch that nearly cost them the game. But with the score 79-78 and eight seconds left, UConn took six seconds to get the ball in Kemba’s hands. He was forced to take a 35 foot three for the win that bounced off the rim. With the win, the Cardinals moved into sole possession of second place in the Big East.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H40sMV8W0pU]

Florida 104, Georgia 91 2OT: In a back and forth game down in Athens, the Gators rallied from a nine point first half deficit to take a lead late in the second half. But Georgia made a run, and thanks to two missed free throws by Erving Walker, Georgia was able to force overtime on a tip-in by Trey Thompkins at the buzzer:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1-piOEBlqA]

After an exciting overtime period, Florida was able to force a second overtime period thanks to this 30 footer from Erving Walker:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thhfGyUgC2E]

In the second overtime, Chandler Parsons got hot and the Gators eventually won by 13 points, but the best moment of the game had nothing to with basketballs.

Utah State 89, Hawaii 84 2OT: The Aggies won their 15th straight game and moved to 9-0 in the WAC, but it wasn’t easy. Hawaii was down by as much as 10 points in the second half, but Zane Johnson and Jeremiah Ostrowski sparked a come back. Bill Amis eventually gave the Rainbows the lead at 61-60. The two teams would trade baskets before Brian Green, who had a team-high 22 points, hit a tough pull up jumper to force the first overtime. Hawaii again had a late lead in the first OT, but Green once again tied the game with a 28 foot three. In the second OT, USU jumped out to an early lead, but after Johnson hit a three to cut the lead to 80-79, the Aggies hit their free throws down the stretch to win the game.

Half-court buzzer beaters: Is it just me, or does it seem like there are more buzzer beaters than usual this season. Weber State handed Northern Colorado their first loss of the Big Sky season on this 45 footer from Scott Bamforth:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7uWl9hiHx0]

Not to be outdone, freshman Michael Alvarado of Manhattan banked in a 55 footer to beat Marist:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/embed/GUOj6Qwa5mg]

Player of the Week: Peyton Siva, Louisville

Siva didn’t put up the greatest numbers this week — in two Louisville wins, he averaged 17.5 ppg and 5.0 apg — but when his points came were much more important than the total number that he scored. Against West Virginia, he helped spark a comeback from an 11 point second half deficit, sealing the win with a tough, up-and-under layup off the glass.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcYCt9VnKVY]

As we already mentioned, Siva was unstoppable in the final minutes against UConn, dissecting the Huskie’s defense for four huge buckets late in the game. The knock of Louisville all season long has been that they don’t have a star, that they don’t have a go-to player that they can give the ball to down the stretch. After this performance from Siva, it appears the Cardinals now have two.

Preston Knowles has hit a number of big shots in his career. He also sparked Louisville’s comeback from 18 points down against Marquette. Combine his shot making with Siva’s play making ability, and the Cardinals back starts to look much more dangerous.

The All-the-were-good-too team (This was hard to do. There were a lot of terrific performances by back court players):

  • G: Darius Morris, Michigan: Morris was terrific in the Wolverine’s win over Michigan State, scoring 17 points and dishing out eight assists. He was even better in a win over Iowa, finishing with 12 points, 10 boards, and 11 assists to notch the second triple double in Michigan history.
  • G: Tu Holloway, Xavier: Xavier certified their dominance in the Atlantic 10 with a 23 point win at Richmond. Holloway was incredible, scoring 33 points to go along with seven boards, five assists, and a 17-17 performance from the line while helping to hold Kevin Anderson to 10 points. Oh, and he had 22 in a win over George Washington as well.
  • G: Brian Green, Utah State: Green had 28 points in the Aggies win against San Jose State early in the week, but it was his 22 point performance against Hawaii that drew my attention. Not only did he score 22 points, but he forced overtime and double overtime with clutch jumpers down the stretch, the second of which was a 28 footer.
  • F: Mike Singletary, Texas Tech: Singletary had 33 points, 10 boards, and five assists (the first ever 30-10-5 game in Big XII history) against Iowa State while adding 25 points and seven boards in an overtime win over Oklahoma State.
  • C: Kenneth Faried, Morehead State: Faried’s best performance this week was a 23 point, 23 rebound performance he had in a win over Tennessee State. He also went for 17 points and 16 boards in a win over Austin Peay and notched 13 points and 15 boards as the Eagles won at Ball State. Should I mention he also had seven blocks, five steals, and 19 offensive boards?
  • Bench: Jimmer Fredette, BYU (37.5 ppg, including 43 vs. SDSU); Talor Battle, Penn State (22.5 ppg, had 20 2nd half points in a win over Wisconsin); Austin Freeman, Georgetown (30 points in a win at Villanova); Rotnei Clarke, Arkansas (26.0 ppg, including 36 in a win at Vanderbilt); Steven Pledger, Oklahoma (38 points, including 12 in overtime, in win over Iowa State)

Team of the Week: Georgetown Hoyas

Three weeks ago, I said I was almost ready to write off the Hoyas. Its a good thing I put an “almost” in that sentence, because the Hoyas have proved that their season is anything but finished. Georgetown had two impressive wins this week. On Wednesday, they smacked a St. John’s team by 25 that would go on to do the same thing to Duke on Sunday. Then on Saturday, the Hoyas went into Philly and knocked off Villanova 69-66. Chris Wright is still struggling (he didn’t score a single point against Villanova) but thanks to Austin Freeman’s resurgence (he had 30 at Villanova), Jason Clark’s excellent all-around play, and Hollis Thompson’s move to sixth man, the Hoyas are playing some of their best basketball of the season.

Its perfect timing. Georgetown is now 5-4 in the Big East, but with Villanova and Syracuse both coming back to earth and the question marks surrounding Louisville, Notre Dame, and UConn, there really only seems to be one dominant team in the Big East. Georgetown is still very much in the thick of the race for a top four seed in the Big East and a double bye in the conference tournament next month.

Teams deserving a shout out: This week was one of the crazier weeks I’ve ever experienced as a college hoops fan. Teams ranked in the top 25 went a preposterous 22-20 this week. Included in that record was this weekend, where 13 of the top 25 teams in the country picked up a loss. That doesn’t mean that the past week was forgettable for everyone, however:

New Mexico: The Lobos picked up two huge wins this week, knocking off both TCU and BYU at the Pit. The BYU win was incredibly important, as it gives Steve Alford’s club a win to hang their tournament resume on. New Mexico has plenty of talent on their roster, but seeing as this is a relatively new team — they lost Darington Hobson and Roman Martinez last season and added three freshmen this season and Drew Gordon in December — it looks as if it has taken a while for this team to gel. New Mexico has the pieces to be capable of a run down the stretch of the season. Hopefully, knocking off the Cougars is the spark they needed.

Louisville: As we mentioned, Peyton Siva’s performance in the clutch this week was impressive. The Cardinals picked up two huge wins over teams in the upper half of the Big East and now sit alone in second place in the conference. Keep in mind, the Cardinals are doing all of this without Raheem Buckles. Or Jared Swopshire, for that matter.

Texas: All of a sudden, the Longhorns look like one of the four or five best teams in the country. This week, they picked up a tough win at Oklahoma State on the night the Cowboys honored the ten year anniversary of the plane crash that killed ten members of their team before they demolished Missouri at home. The final of that 71-58 win against Missouri doesn’t do the Longhorn’s dominance justice, either. If they hadn’t shot 16-34 from the free throw line, it would have been a 25 point win.

Xavier: This wasn’t supposed to be Xavier’s year. With the injuries and eligibility issues they have had this season, it was supposed to be Temple and Richmond that rose to the top of the Atlantic 10. But after a 23 point beatdown of the Spiders in Richmond on Saturday, the Muskies are now sitting at 7-0 in league play and well on their way to another conference championship and NCAA Tournament bid. Chris Mack better have his name near the top of every Coach of the Year list.

Penn State: Believe it or not, the Nittany Lions are now officially on the bubble, which is impressive considering this is a team that few thought was capable of competing in the Big Ten this season. Well, compete they have, as the Bryce Jordan Center has become the conference’s best home court advantage. With wins over Illinois and Michigan State at home already, Talor Battle scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half as Penn State rallied from a nine point halftime deficit to knock off Wisconsin. Penn State has a brutal finish to the season — @ Illinois, Michigan, @ Michigan State, Northwestern, Minnesota, @ Wisconsin, @ Northwestern, Ohio State, @ Minnesota — but if they can piece together a .500 record in that stretch, the bubble is weak enough that this group could very well sneak into the Big Dance.

Kansas: Kansas won at Colorado and at home against Kansas State this week, which wouldn’t be all that impressive if they didn’t have a midweek trip to Washington DC for the funeral of Thomas Robinson’s mother. Kansas has as much talent in the world, and with this added motivation and support, the Jayhawks are a scary team this season. It should be noted that in the win over Kansas State, Robinson had 17 points and nine boards.

Washington State: The Cougars have fallen down to fourth in the Pac-10 standings, but that doesn’t mean this is a team that you can write off just yet. They proved that fact with an 87-80 win over Washington on Sunday night. When Klay Thompson, Faisal Aden, and Reggie Moore are all playing well, Wazzu is not a team that you want to be playing.

VCU: The Commodores moved into sole possession of first place in the CAA with a 3-0 week, which included a statement win over Hofstra. I saw this team play at the Preseason NIT in November, and I said then that they looked like a group capable of winning a game or two in the NCAA Tournament. They are balanced, they have a ton of shooters, and they have a high-major post presence in Jamie Skeen.

Northern Iowa: The Panthers have now won seven straight games in the Valley, capping off that streak with a hard fought, 61-60 win over Missouri State on the road. The Panthers are the hottest team in the conference, sit just a game back of both the Bears and Wichita State, and own road wins over both the teams they trail in league play.

Morehead State: The Ohio Valley may not be the two team race we all expected it to be as five teams are within a game of first place. But thanks to a 2-0 week against two of those five teams, the Eagles find themselves just a game behind Austin Peay and Murray State in the loss column.

Seton Hall: I want the Pirates to be successful this season. We all talk about how devastating this season has been for Thomas Robinson, but no one mentions that the Pirates are a misplaced defibrillator and a poorly aimed bullet away from losing their two best players, Herb Pope and Jeremy Hazell. This past week, the Pirates started their season in the right direction, beating Syracuse by 22 points in the Dome and knocking off Providence.

Texas Tech and Oklahoma: Neither Texas Tech nor Oklahoma will be fighting for an at-large bid this season, but it appears both teams are fighting to keep their coaches employed. Both the Red Raiders and the Sooners are on three game winning streaks right now.

Matchups of the Week:

  • 1/31 – 7:00 pm: Louisville @ Georgetown
  • 1/31 – 9:00 pm: Texas @ Texas A&M
  • 2/1 – 7:00 pm: Purdue @ Wisconsin
  • 2/1 – 9:00 pm: Vanderbilt @ Florida
  • 2/1 – 9:00 pm: Boston College @ North Carolina
  • 2/2 – 7:00 pm: Syracuse @ UConn
  • 2/2 – 7:00 pm: Marquette @ Villanova
  • 2/2 – 7:00 pm: George Mason @ Hofstra
  • 2/2 – 9:00 pm: Duke @ Maryland
  • 2/5 – 12:00 pm: Butler @ Cleveland State
  • 2/5 – 12:00 pm: West Virginia @ Villanova
  • 2/5 – 2:00 pm: Old Dominion @ George Mason
  • 2/5 – 4:00 pm: UNLV @ BYU
  • 2/5 – 4:00 pm: Memphis vs. Gonzaga
  • 2/5 – 9:00 pm: Kentucky @ Florida
  • 2/6 – 1:00 pm: Wisconsin @ Michigan State
  • 2/6 – 2:00 pm: Ohio State @ Minnesota

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.