The Secondary Break: Monday’s Links

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Gophers centers push to make each other improve (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Elliott Eliason and Mo Walker have seen their roles grow under first-year head coach Richard Pitino, and they’ve taken advantage of the opportunity while pushing each other to improve on a daily basis. That will need to continue to be the case as Big Ten play wears on, as Minnesota looks to return to the NCAA tournament.

The ramifications of a lengthy layoff for Seton Hall’s Eugene Teague (South Orange Juice)
After losing to Creighton on Saturday afternoon Seton Hall dropped to 1-1 in Big East play. And they’ve been shorthanded of late too, as starting center Eugene Teague’s missed the last two games after a horrific fall in a win over Lafayette. With their lack of interior depth and other players (Patrik Auda, Fuquan Edwin and Aaron Geramipoor) also dealing with recent health issues, what would the impact of Teague missing a a lengthy amount of time on the Pirates be?

Duluth East grad Dyami Starks among scoring leaders in Division I (Duluth News Tribune)
Bryant guard Dyami Starks has been one of the nation’s best scorers this season, scoring up an average of 21.2 points per game. And one reason for the junior guard’s success was his hard work during the summer, with days beginning at 4:00 a.m. with a job at a FedEx facility in Duluth, Minn.

Prosecutor raps reinstatement of Shaw (Logan Herald Journal)
Utah State forward Jarred Shaw was reinstated by head coach Stew Morrill after being suspended one game due to his arrest on a drug possession charge. And the fact that Shaw was reinstated so quickly doesn’t sit well with Cache County prosecutor Tony Baird, who lamented the fact that the decision sends the wrong message to kids who look up to athletes such as Shaw.

Colorado products making impact on Division I hoops teams (Denver Post)
No. 20 Colorado’s win over No. 10 Oregon may have been spearheaded by two guards from California, but the Buffaloes also have two big men from the the state of Colorado in Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon. And they aren’t the only Colorado natives to enjoy success at the Division I level this season, with Colorado State, Denver and Air Force also making good use of local talent.

Alford proving critics wrong with fast, fun Bruins (Fox Sports)
In UCLA’s 107-73 win over USC on Sunday the talent disparity between the two teams was clear, with Steve Alford’s team playing faster than the opposing head coach thought they were capable of prior to the start of the season. And it was the latest positive result for Alford, who’s proving people wrong with this start.

Chester’s Hollis-Jefferson giving Arizona all he’s got (Delaware County Daily Times)
Arizona freshman wing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been a key contributor for the top-ranked Wildcats, filling the sixth man role for much of the season and even starting when Kaleb Tarczewski missed time with a sprained ankle. And Hollis-Jefferson’s goals for the future aren’t limited to basketball either, as he hopes to lift up his hometown of Chester, Penn. as well.

Young Deacons finally provide tangible signs of growth in upset of North Carolina (Wilmington Star News)
Wake Forest’s 73-67 win over No. 19 North Carolina was an outcome fans have been waiting for, with the desire to see any sign of growth from Jeff Bzdelik’s program. The question now is whether or not the Demon Deacons can build on the result as they move deeper into ACC play.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.