Late Night Snacks: Georgetown likely NIT bound following loss to DePaul

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Wednesday’s Bubble Banter

GAME OF THE DAY: UCF 94, Temple 90 (2OT)

Outside of keeping their seasons alive there wasn’t much on the line in this contest, and that motivation proved to be enough in a game that needed two extra sessions. Isaiah Sykes scored 36 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the way for UCF, who will take on top-seed Cincinnati on Thursday night. Quenton DeCosey scored 28 points and Will Cummings 25 for the Owls, who finished its tough season with a record of 9-22.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) American 55, Boston University 36

Mike Brennan’s Eagles, picked to finish ninth in the Patriot League’s preseason poll, won the automatic bid thanks in large part to their stifling defense. Playing man for much of the first half, American’s 2-3 zone made life difficult for the Terriers in the second half. And in their three-game run to the Patriot League crown American allowed no more than 0.87 points per possession, with BU scoring 0.64 points per possession.

2) DePaul 60, Georgetown 56

John Thompson III’s Hoyas needed to make a run in New York City to feel good about their chances of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. That won’t be happening, as Billy Garrett Jr. and Forrest Robinson helped lead the Blue Demons to their first Big East tournament win since 2009. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks combined to score 38 points for the Hoyas but they didn’t receive much help offensively, resulting in the close loss.

3) Colorado 59, USC 56

For bubble teams avoiding bad losses is just as important as picking up quality wins, and that’s exactly what the Buffaloes did in Las Vegas. Askia Booker played well, finishing with 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and Colorado also benefitted from USC shooting 5-for-22 from beyond the arc. The win sets up a very important matchup with Cal on Thursday, with the Golden Bears having defeated Colorado by a point in the regular season finale for both.

STARRED

1) Isaiah Sykes (UCF) 

Skyes scored 36 points to go along with nine rebounds and three steals in the Knights’ 94-90 double overtime win over Temple.

2) Jeremy Ingram (North Carolina Central) 

Ingram made nine of his 12 shots from the field, finishing the Eagles’ 92-46 win over Howard with 30 points, two assists and two steals.

3) Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)

Accounted for 18 points (6-for-10 FG), seven rebounds and seven assists in the Cowboys’ 80-62 win over Texas Tech.

STRUGGLED

1) D.J. Irving (Boston University)

Shot 1-for-10 form the field in the Terriers’ 55-36 loss to American in the Patriot League title game.

2) Alex Barlow and Kellen Dunham (Butler) 

Combined to shoot 3-for-21 in Butler’s 51-50 loss to Seton Hall in the first round of the Big East tournament.

3) Tahj Shamsid-Deen (Auburn) 

Made just one of his ten shot attempts in the Tigers’ 74-56 loss to South Carolina in the first round of the SEC tournament.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

  • American: Rutgers outlasts USF
    A missed box out with five seconds remaining allowed Rutgers’ J.J. Moore to grab a key offensive rebound in the final seconds, leading to the Scarlet Knights beating USF 72-68. Rutgers advances to take on two-seed Louisville in the quarterfinals.
  • Atlantic 10: Fordham’s Ryan Canty dominates the glass
    Ryan Canty’s struggled with foul trouble at times this season but that wasn’t the case in Fordham’s 70-67 win over George Mason. Canty grabbed 19 rebounds and blocked three shots in the win, and next up for the Rams is a game against five-seed Dayton on Thursday.
  • ACC: Georgia Tech ends Boston College’s season
    Brian Gregory’s Yellow Jackets beat the Eagles for the third time this season, winning 73-70 in overtime. Georgia Tech advances to play Clemson on Thursday, with Wake Forest (beat Notre Dame) and Miami (beat Virginia Tech) moving on as well. Wake will play Pittsburgh on Thursday, with the Hurricanes facing N.C. State.
  • Big 12: Baylor, Oklahoma State take care of business
    No surprises on day one in Kansas City, with the Cowboys coasting past Texas Tech and Baylor holding off TCU. Oklahoma State gets another shot at Kansas, which will be without Joel Embiid, on Thursday and Baylor plays two-seed Oklahoma.
  • Big East: Seton Hall hangs on to beat Butler
    Kevin Willard’s Pirates will play top-seed Villanova on Thursday afternoon thanks to a 51-50 win over Butler. The Bulldogs rallied late but fell just short, with guard Kellen Dunham and Alex Barlow combining to shoot 3-for-21 from the field.
  • Conference USA: Host UTEP among winners on day two
    UTEP isn’t one of the top four seeds in the Conference USA tournament but having the event on their home floor makes the Miners a threat to win the automatic bid. Tim Floyd’s team beat East Carolina 77-68, advancing to play Southern Miss in one of Thursday’s quarterfinals. The other winners: Charlotte (over UAB), Old Dominion (over Marshall) and Tulane (over North Texas).
  • MEAC: Coppin State knocks off Hampton
    Top-seed North Carolina Central rolled in its opener but two-seed Hampton wasn’t as fortunate, as they fell 83-77 to Coppin State. The two winners advance to Friday’s semifinals, with NCCU taking on the winner of Thursday’s Savannah State/Norfolk State contest and Coppin State playing the winner of the Morgan State/Florida A&M quarterfinal.
  • MAC: Seeds hold to form on day two
    Just two games in Cleveland on Wednesday as the Mid-American Conference staggers its bracket to favor the teams who performed the best during the regular season. Ohio and Eastern Michigan advanced, setting up quarterfinals against Akron and Buffalo, respectively.
  • Mountain West: Utah State rallied to stun Colorado State
    Leading by nine with 1:35 remaining, Colorado State looked well on its way to meeting San Diego State in the quarterfinals. But Utah State had other ideas, storming back to win 73-69. In the other two first-round games Fresno State held off Air Force, and Boise State throttled San Jose State in a game they led 25-0 at one point.
  • Pac-12: Bubble teams go 3-0
    With Oregon (88-74 win over Oregon State) presumed to be safely into the NCAA tournament field, Utah and Stanford joined Colorado as teams needing to win on Wednesday. Utah made key plays late to hold off Washington, and Stanford managed to beat Washington State. All four winners will have the opportunity to strengthen their case on Thursday, with the top four seeds providing the opposition.
  • SEC: Two winners and one coaching change
    Both lower-seeded teams won on Wednesday, with Mississippi State beating Vanderbilt and South Carolina defeating Auburn. That loss was also the final game for Auburn head coach Tony Barbee, who was relieved of his duties shortly after the game’s end.
  • Southland: No surprises on opening day
    Five-seed Nicholls State and Six-seed Oral Roberts advanced, with Nicholls State beating Southeast Louisiana 71-64 and ORU holding off McNeese State 66-62. Next up for Nicholls State is a game against Northwestern State, and ORU will face Sam Houston State on Thursday.
  • SWAC: Texas Southern wins its opener
    Texas Southern beat Grambling State 79-54, with Aaric Murray scoring 18 points and blocking six shots to lead the way. In the other quarterfinal Prairie View A&M whipped top-seed Southern, 64-46. With the Jaguars and Tigers falling, just one team ineligible for postseason play (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) remains in the event.

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.