College Hoops Week in Review: Frank Kaminsky, Michigan earn weekly honors

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

I made a joke on twitter during Wisconsin’s win over Iowa on Saturday, saying, essentially, that if you’re a 6-foot-10 stiff, you should go to play for Bo Ryan because he’ll make you awesome in three years. I thought it was funny, because Wisconsin always manages to churn out big men that hit threes and post double-doubles like it’s nothing. Brian Butch to Jon Leuer to Jared Berggren to Kaminsky.

But, as always, tone got lost on twitter and some folks did not realize that what I was saying was tongue-in-cheek, because Kaminsky, like Berggren and Leuer and Butch before him, is not a stiff. At all. He’s a burly seven-footer that has an array of moves on the block, can beat big men off the dribble and buries threes. He may not be jumping out of the gym and he doesn’t have the kind of wingspan that makes NBA scouts drool, but he’s as skilled offensively as any big man in the country.

The last two games have been the perfect example, as he averaged 23.0 points and 9.0 boards  while shooting 19-for-29 from three in wins at Michigan and Iowa.

Kaminsky’s development is the reason the Badgers are one of the Big Ten’s best against this season.

They were good, too:

  • Terran Petteway, Nebraska: After scoring 23 points in Nebraska’s win at Michigan State last Sunday, Petteway averaged 27.5 points in a pair of wins for the Cornhuskers this week. Nebraska is playing like an NCAA tournament team.
  • Doug McDermott, Creighton: This week is the perfect example of why McDermott is a shoe-in for National Player of the Year. He scored 55 points in wins at Marquette and at home against Seton Hall, and the national reaction was, basically, ‘meh’.
  • Leslie McDonald, North Carolina: McDonald averaged 20.0 points and shot 14-for-21 from the floor and 6-for-10 from three in wins over Wake Forest and Duke this week.
  • Julius Randle, Kentucky: Randle had 25 points and 13 boards in Tuesday’s win at Ole Miss, following it up with 15 boards and a game-winning putback to beat LSU in overtime.
  • Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico: Bairstow had 18 points, six boards and five blocks in a win at UNLV, following that up with 26 points and nine boards in UNM’s blow-out win over San Diego State on Saturday.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines finished off a sweep of intra-state rival Michigan State on Sunday, notching a come-from-behind win over the Spartans thanks to their talented perimeter duo. Caris LeVert scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half, while Nik Stauskas chipped in with 21 of his 25 points, busting out of a massive slump where he had scored just 51 points in his previous five games.

LeVert’s development is huge for the Wolverines. They need a secondary scorer, and he’s proven that he’s talented enough to carry the Michigan offense for stretches. But without Stauskas playing like ‘Nik Stauskas, All-American’, the Wolverines are simply quite beatable. It’s more than his ability to score — which, I should emphasize, is prolific; 21 points in a half is not that surprising out of the 6-foot-6 Canadian.

Stauskas is a tremendous playmaker. He’s not Trey Burke, and he’s not great going left, but when Michigan runs him off of ball-screens and curls on the left-hand side of the court so he can drive right, he’s able to find the open man. LeVert gets his buckets going one-on-one, and that’s important. But Stauskas, when he’s playing well, just opens up Beilein’s offense. Everyone becomes better, and that’s why Michigan is in the driver’s seat when it comes to the Big Ten regular season title.

They were good, too:

  • SMU: The Mustangs picked up a massive win on Sunday afternoon, notching their first notable road win of the season at UConn.
  • Louisville: The Cardinals, like SMU, needed to make a statement on the road. They did it on Saturday, when Russ Smith hit a game-winning jumper at Cincinnati. That followed up a win over South Florida.
  • Stanford: The Cardinal all-but locked up a bid to the NCAA tournament when they knocked off UCLA at home on Saturday afternoon. That followed a win over USC.
  • UMass: The Minutemen had struggled for a couple months, but after beating GW on the road last Sunday, UMass knocked off VCU on Friday night in Amherst. They’re now in a three-way tie for second-place in the conference.
  • BYU: The Cougars put themselves in great position to earn an at-large berth by beating Gonzaga on Thursday.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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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

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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

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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.