Thursday’s Shootaround: SDSU survives, Southern Miss takes control of CUSA

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No. 14 Georgetown 58, UConn 44: See here.

No. 12 San Diego State 58, Boise State 56: On Saturday afternoon, San Diego State was drilled by Colorado State, losing by 17 in a game that was never much in doubt after the first 10 minutes. On Wednesday, the Aztecs did everything they could to try and earn their second straight upset loss. They shot just 31.3% from the floor. They went just 3-19 from three. They got behind by as much as 12 points in the second half. And after using a 22-3 run to take a seven point lead with six minutes left, the Aztecs nearly blew it. On the game’s final possession, Boise State, who was only down two after Chase Tapley missed a free throw, somehow managed to find a wide-open Thomas Bropleh, but his three was off the mark.

That’s called escaping.

There are a couple of things to take out of this game. For starters, this is the second time that Boise has given a league favorite a run for their money; they took UNLV to overtime earlier this season. And while their record in league play may not be all that pretty (0-6 rarely is), this is a young group that is still learning to play at the collegiate level. I’d put money on the Broncos pulling off a couple of upsets before the season is over and really making a name for themselves next year.

The mark of a good team is that they are able to win games when they don’t play their best basketball, and if this game showed us anything, its that SDSU is apparently a good team. They do, however, need to get this slump figured out. Steve Fisher’s team is guard-oriented this season, which means that there are going to be some games where the Aztecs cannot buy a jumpshot. They cannot, however, allow one bad game to beget another.

No. 13 UNLV 82, Colorado State 63: Perhaps the only people rooting for Bropleh’s game-winner to drop more than Boise State fans were UNLV fans. Had the Broncos knocked off the Aztecs, than UNLV’s 19 point win over Colorado State would have moved the Rebels into first place in the MWC. Anthony Marshall and Oscar Bellfield combined to go for 29 points, 13 assists and just four turnovers as UNLV shot 50% from the floor and hit nine threes in a game that was never really in doubt.

This loss adds more credence to the notion that UNLV is the best team in the conference, not SDSU. The Aztecs lost to Colorado State by 17. UNLV beat them by 19. That’s a big difference, although neither team was as impressive as New Mexico in their 33 point win over the Rams. Maybe Colorado State is simply team schizophrenia.

No. 6 Baylor 63, Texas A&M 60: Pierre Jackson is a bit of a polarizing figure in college basketball circles. Some love him as a player, others simply love his athletic ability and some believe he is going to eventually be the downfall of Baylor’s team this season. All are fair perspectives. Jackson is a ridiculous athlete with the ability to do some incredible things on a basketball court, but there are times where he buys into his own hype too much. When he plays as Pierre Jackson, he’s great. When he tries to be Steve Francis, he struggles. Its that simple.

But the one thing that no one can disagree with is his ability in the clutch. He’s proven time and time again that he’s a player that can be trusted with the ball in his hands at the end of a game. On Wednesday, he hit a three with 17 seconds left to put Baylor up 61-60 and followed that up with two free throws after Elston Turner missed a tough fadeaway jumper. (Jump to the 2:45 mark):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlVNt_sXbP8%5D

Its the fourth time this season that Jackson has made a play in the final minute that has won a game or forced overtime. Against BYU, his block of a Brandon Davies’ three saved the game. Against West Virginia, he forced OT with a three. And in a win over Mississippi State, he scored the game-winning bucket on a driving layup in the final minute.

No. 22 Michigan 68, No. 20 Indiana 56: Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Indiana lost on the road to a quality opponent. This game was eerily similar to the loss the Hoosiers had at Michigan State earlier in the season. The Wolverines jumped out to a 13-0 lead and led by as much as 20 in the first half, but the Hoosiers came storming back. They got within two points late in the second half, but Stu Douglass and Tim Hardaway, Jr., hit back-to-back threes to push the lead back up to eight points. The win moved Michigan into a tie with Wisconsin for second place in the league, one game behind Ohio State in the loss column and one game ahead of Michigan State in the win column. Trey Burke led the way with 18 points, four boards and four assists.

Southern Miss 75, Memphis 72: In one of the best games of the night — a game that didn’t actually get on the air until midway through the first half thanks to a high school football all-star game — Southern Miss won their 16th game in the last 17 outings, taking over sole possession of first place in the Conference USA standings. Darnell Dodson had 23 points and Neil Watson added 17 as USM did everything they could down the stretch to give the game back to Memphis. Chris Crawford missed a decent look at a three as time expired, however, the first time Southern Miss has beaten the Tigers in 18 tries. Its worth noting that, when USM lost to Memphis, it was because the Golden Eagles missed a three at the buzzer to win it. Can we get a grudge match?

Texas-Arlington 67, Texas-San Antonio 66: LaMarcus Reed scored 24 points as UTA christened their new arena with a win that moved them into sole possession of first place in the Southland.

The Atlantic 10: The conference just gets weirder and weirder. So here’s what happened last night: Xavier won a tight game against George Washington; UMass lost in overtime to Rhode Island; St. Joe’s beat Richmond on the road; Temple and La Salle beat Fordham and Charlotte, respectively, at home; Dayton lost their third game in a row to Duquesne at home; and St. Bonaventure blew out St. Louis.

Ok.

What’s that mean?

La Salle (?!) is currently sitting all alone in first place in the league at 6-2. Temple, at 5-2, and Xavier, at 6-3, are both a half game back. St. Louis, UMass and St. Bonaventure are all 5-3 while Dayton, Duquesne and St. Joe’s are all 4-4. Got it? Good. There will be a quiz on Friday.

The CAA: Quite obviously, the big news in the Colonial is that George Mason, who had been holding on to first place in the conference, lost at Delaware on Wednesday night. With Drexel and VCU both winning, it now means there is a three-way tie for first place in the league, with Old Dominion sitting just a game back in the win column.

The rest of the top 25:

No. 8 Kansas 84, Oklahoma 62: Thomas Robinson has 20 points, 17 boards, four assists, two blocks and two steals while Tyshawn Taylor added 21 points and six assists in a Jayhawk win.

No. 12 Creighton 102, Illinois State 74: The Bluejays got 25 points from Doug McDermott as they stayed a game in front of Wichita State in the MVC standings. The Shockers beat Missouri State 74-67 on the road.

No. 24 Florida State 68, Georgia Tech 54: Michael Snaer scored 21 points and the Seminoles bounced back from a halftime deficit to knock off the Yellow Jackets.

Other notable scores:

– Davidson 71, Furman 53
– Akron 86, Toledo 72
– Marshall 63, Tulane 44
– Stony Brook 82, Binghamton 48
– NC State 56, Boston College 51
– Miami 90, Maryland 86 2OT
– Ohio 67, Northern Illinois 58

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.