The Morning Mix

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Today’s Morning Mix is rather light. We want you to save up you energy for tomorrow, which looks like the most fully loaded day of hoops we’ve seen all season.

Oh, and you can take tonight off. There are only three games on tonight. We got you covered.

Lets hit the links.

Friday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Stony Brook @ Vermont
7:00 p.m. – Jacksonville @ North Florida
7:00 p.m. – Fairfield @ Iona
 
 
Read of the Day:
Former-Virginia Tech forward Allen Chaney was away from the game for 44 months thanks to viral myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, but he’s now getting a second shot at hoops at High Point, and making the most of it. Ryan Fagan has the story. Read it. (The Sporting News)
 
 
Top Stories:
No. 10 Florida holds Elston Turner to four points, beats Texas A&M: Four days after going into Lexington and earning a win against Kentucky, Texas A&M was set to host a beat up Florida team with a chance to really make a statement to the folks that put together bubble projections. Unfortunately for the Aggies, Elston Turner scored 37 points less that he did on Saturday and the Gators rolled over Texas A&M with “Johnny Football” in attendance.

No. 5 Michigan holds on to win at No. 9 Minnesota, 83-75: m Hardaway Jr. led Michigan with 21 points and Trey Burke added 18 points and nine assists as the Wolverines opened up an 18-point lead and withstood a strong Gophers comeback to earn the bounce-back on the road at the Barn.

10 tidbits to know: Great coaching in the state of Maryland: NBC Sports Talk’s College Hoops Insider, Vin Parise, is back with his weekly look at ten interesting tidbits. This week he dishes on the coaching success taking place in “The Old Line State”, and an interesting non-conference game taking place this weekend.

Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee looking to leave Sun Belt early? Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee are reportedly negotiating with the Sun Belt Conference to leave after the current academic year instead of waiting until 2014 according to Dan Wolken of USA Today. The two programs will join the reconfigured Conference USA, which will lose four of its members to the Big East Conference at the end of the 2012-13 academic year.

Frank Haith’s lawyer speaks about potential NCAA infractions: The Missouri head coach is still tangled up in the mess that is the Nevin Shapiro scandal at Miami, and with the notice of allegations on the way, his lawyers have issued a statement filled with lawyer-speak.

Report: James Southerland eligibility issue centers around term paper: According to Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard the current eligibility issue may center around the writing of a term paper. Specifically, whether or not a tutor wrote part of Southerland’s term paper.

 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Chris Webber’s ban from being associated with Michigan will end in May and the university is currently discussing how to handle issues surrounding the Fab-5. (Detroit News)

– San Diego State guard Xavier Thames tweaked his back in practice yesterday and his status for the Wyoming game this weekend is questionable. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

– R.J. Williams returned from his suspension last night as Loyola (Md.) handled Marist at home 72-58. (D1scourse)

– UConn guard Shabazz Napier is dealing with a shoulder injury but hopes to be able to play against Pittsburgh this weekend. (New Haven Register)

– Seton Hall landed a commitment from 2013 shooting guard Jerron Wilbut. (South Orange Juice)

– Central Florida junior Isaiah Sykes returned to practice on Thursday for the first time since injuring his ankle last weekend. He hopes to be able to play this weekend against Houston. (Orlando Sentinel)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Valparaiso snapped Detroit’s 17-game home winning streak thanks to 31 points from Kevin Van Wijk. The Crusaders trailed by 18 at the half, but scored 57 points in the second half in order to win the rematch of last season’s Horizon League Championship game. (Detroit Free-Press)

– Bradley head coach Geno Ford was in attendance for the Wednesday night game between Chicago high schools Simeon and Morgan Park, in which a man was shot and killed following the game. (Peoria Journal-Star)

– A lot of people were hesitant about Illinois’ early season surge, and they can now pat themselves on the back. The Illini dropped their third straight with a lethargic loss to Northwestern last night. (State Journal-Register)

– With the conference realignment impacting the Sun Belt Conference, here is a look at some of the facilities of potential Members. (App State Nation)

– Andy Glockner provides his take on the conference power rankings. I too agree that the Mountain West is third best. (Sports Illustrated)

– A history lesson about win-less teams and when they usually get their first win of the season. (Eye on College Basketball)

– The Big-Ten is usually the conference people think about when an ugly, low-scoring game is on. But this season, the ACC seems to be the posterboy for scoring deficiency. (Tech Hoops)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
As if his team’s performance wasn’t bad enough, an Illinois fan got ejected from Assembly Hall last night. The Illini lost to Northwestern last night in pathetic fashion.

source: AP

Dunk: of the Day:
Glenn Robinson III had himself a big game last night against Michigan. He scored 20 points and threw down a 360 dunk on a fast break. Personally, I’m not a big fan of 360s. First, they aren’t real 360s because the rotation starts before they leave the ground. Second, it just doesn’t look as pretty as a poster-dunk or wind-mill jam. But the people sure do like them.

 
 
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Christian Vital going back to UConn for junior season

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Dan Hurley is keeping his roster intact at the top.

Christian Vital, UConn’s second-leading scorer a season ago, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, he announced Monday via social media.

“Great Talk Today Coach! Appreciate The Wisdom You Have Let Me In On!” Vital wrote “I Think It’s Time To Get Back To Winning Ways In Storrs! I’m Going To Need That #1 Back ASAP! WE GOT (UNFINISHED) BUSINESS!”

The 6-foot-2 junior-to-be Vital joins Jalen Adams, who was the Huskies’ top-returning scorer, back in Storrs in Hurley’s first year. Vital averaged 14.9 points on 38.3 percent shooting. Adams previously announced he would return to school without declaring for the draft.

The return of UConn’s top two scorers underscores an even bigger trend under Hurley as the Huskies appear to have avoided any major defections from last year’s roster despite the coaching change.

UConn is coming off a 14-18 season that proved to be the last of coach Kevin Ollie’s six years with the Huskies that included a national championship but also back-to-back losing seasons.

Chris Silva returning to South Carolina for senior season

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South Carolina is getting an first-team all-SEC performer back.

Chris Silva, who led the Gamecocks in scoring and rebounding last season, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, the school announced Monday.

“I’m thankful for the experience of going through the draft process,” Silva said in a statement. “I want to thank all of the teams that gave me the opportunity to workout for their organization. I’m excited to announce that I’m returning to South Carolina for my senior season. I can’t wait to get back on the court with my brothers and continue to work on my game.”

The 6-foot-9 Silva, who did not get an NBA draft combine invite, averaged 14.3 points and 8 rebounds per game as a junior.  He shot 46.7 percent from the floor.

“Going through the evaluation process was an unbelievable experience for Chris and us,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said in a statement. “He comes back to a place he loves with some knowledge on some of the things that we have to help him improve on in his efforts to one day fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.”

In addition to being South Carolina’s leading scorer, he was the SEC co-defensive player of the year last season after averaging 1.4 blocks per game. His return to Columbia gives the Gamecocks a potential contender for SEC player of the year in 2018-19.

Kansas fires athletic director Sheahon Zenger

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Kansas has fired athletic director Sheahon Zenger, effective immediately, citing a lack of progress in key areas within the athletic department.

“Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and our athletics department has improved in many areas under his leadership,” Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod wrote in an email to KU faculty and staff. “But athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary.”

Zenger had been in the role of AD since 2011.

The issue, of course, is not the play of the Kansas basketball program. The Jayhawks have won every Big 12 regular season title since 2004, and head coach Bill Self has taken the program to two Final Fours since Zenger was hired.

The football team is still a disaster, but one can’t help but wonder whether or not the real issue at hand here is Kansas’ getting tied into the FBI’s investigation into college basketball.

The Jayhawks were not mentioned in the initial indictments that were handed down, but Kansas was a central figure in the superseding indictments that were dropped after the national title game. The mother of Billy Preston, who did not play for the Jayhawks this season, was alleged to have been funneled $90,000 by Adidas, while Silvio De Sousa’s status is currently in question after the FBI alleged his guardian was paid at least $20,000 to help offset money that the family had already accepted from a rival shoe company.

All of that came in the aftermath of dealing with Cheick Diallo and Cliff Alexander, both of whom had their one season in Lawrence reduced due to off the court issues.

“Since becoming chancellor, I have spent countless hours with higher education peers and Jayhawks to hear their perspective on KU,” Girod wrote. “A common thread in these conversations is that, as a major public university with national aspirations, we must continue to strive for excellence in all areas — including athletics. As I have said many times, a successful athletics department is inextricably linked to our broader mission as a flagship research university.”

Louisville, ex-AD Tom Jurich reach $4.5M settlement

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville has reached a $4.5 million settlement with former athletic director Tom Jurich, who was fired in the wake of a national federal corruption investigation of college basketball.

Jurich disputed his Oct. 18 firing for cause after nearly 20 years as AD and had considered suing the school. The University of Louisville Athletic Association and Board of Trustees on Friday approved the settlement. Jurich’s employment ended “without cause” as a result of his resignation, also described in the settlement as “retirement.”

He’ll also receive another $2.6 million in accrued employment benefits, along with home game tickets and parking for Louisville football and basketball for 20 years.

An audit of the University of Louisville Foundation released last June showed that Jurich averaged annual compensation of more than $2.76 million from 2010-16, including more than $5.35 million in 2016.

Then-interim president Greg Postel had placed Jurich on paid administrative leave in September after the school’s acknowledgement of its involvement in the investigation. Trustees voted 10-3 to fire Jurich, two days after the ULAA unanimously fired Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino.

The former AD said in a joint statement that he “spent the better part of my career” working with dedicated athletes, coaches and staff to elevate Louisville. He added, “I am proud of what we accomplished, which is well documented.”

Jurich’s legal team had stressed that the ex-AD did nothing illegal and hadn’t violated NCAA rules.

Trustee chairman J. David Grissom said in the statement that “Everyone is pleased that this matter has been successfully resolved. All parties can move forward to begin the next chapter.”

Jurich played a major role in Louisville’s success on the field and how the school handled issues off it. He led the school’s 2014 entry into the Atlantic Coast Conference and oversaw numerous program and facility upgrades, including a $63 million expansion of the football stadium due for completion by fall.

He also hired several successful coaches including Pitino, who guided the Cardinals to the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball championship. Louisville ultimately vacated that title in February as part of NCAA penalties for a sex scandal after an escort’s book allegations that former basketball staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with players and recruits.

Pitino has filed a $38.7 million federal lawsuit against Louisville, alleging breach of contract.

Georgia Tech’s Okogie to sign with agent

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Georgia Tech guard Josh Okogie, one of the big winners from this past weekend’s NBA combine, announced on Monday that he will be signing with an agent and remaining in the NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-4 Okogie finished his sophomore season averaged 18.5 points and shooting 38.4 percent from three. The numbers he posted during the athletic testing at the combine, as well as his 7-foot wingspan, makes Okogie an ideal 3-and-D wing at the NBA level.

“Josh is a tremendous young man and an excellent student-athlete,” said head coach Josh Pastner. “He has set a tremendous example, making the Dean’s List this past semester, and deserves a lot of credit for making himself a much better player over the course of his two years here. We will miss him in our program in many respects, from his performance on the court to the energy he plays with and brought to our team. We fully support his decision to take this next step, and wish him all the best.”