Late Night Snacks: No. 3 Arizona, No. 7 Virginia shine on a busy Saturday

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T.J. McConnell and Kevin Pangos (Getty Images)

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 3 Arizona 66, No. 9 Gonzaga 63 (OT)

T.J. McConnell made two huge shots in overtime and Arizona’s defense turned stifling over the course of the final nine minutes as the Wildcats knocked off Kevin Pangos and Gonzaga at the McKale Center on Saturday night. Our Raphielle Johnson is on site and will be filing from the game, but two notes I noticed from couchside:

  • McConnell, and not all-american Kevin Pangos, made all the big plays down the stretch. Pangos had a key three, but he also had a pair of bad turnovers.
  • Yeah, we need to do this again come March. How about we run it back in the Elite 8? Anyone say no?

PLAYER OF THE DAY: London Perrantes, Virginia

The No. 7 Cavaliers went into the Siegel Center on Saturday afternoon and put a whooping on VCU in one of the toughest environments in college basketball. Justin Anderson was the leading scorer and Malcolm Brogdon is the most well-known player on the roster, but I’ve giving this award to Perrantes because of how well Virginia handled VCU’s pressure and executed offensively in the half court. They were 28-for-41 from the floor and Perrantes had nine assists and three turnovers in 35 minutes.

TEAM OF THE DAY: NJIT 72, No. 17 Michigan 70

The Highlanders were a joke four years ago. They lost more than 50 consecutive games, one of the worst teams in the history of Division I basketball. Now? They still don’t have a conference — they are the lone Division I independent left — but they went into Ann Arbor and knocked off the Wolverines despite the fact that Michigan hit 11 threes and got 32 points from Caris LeVert.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES:

1. No. 2 Wisconsin 49, Marquette 38: Sam Dekker still doesn’t look like himself, but Frank Kaminsky does. He had 15 points, 10 boards, four steals and three blocks to lead the Badgers to a win over arch-rival Marquette at the Bradley Center. It was a nice way to bounce back from Wednesday’s loss to Duke.

2. Green Bay 68, No. 15 Miami 55: The Phoenix manhandled Miami on the road, running them off the floor in the second half despite the fact that their star guard Keifer Sykes was just 5-for-15 from the floor.

3. St. John’s 69, Syracuse 57: D’Angelo Harrison had 24 points and Phil Greene scored 11 straight points late in the second half to give the Johnnies a nice road win over the Orange.

STARRED:

1. Kyle Collinsworth, BYU: Tyler Haws had 30 points in a win for BYU over Hawaii, but Collinsworth was the best player on the floor. He finished with 19 points, 12 boards and 10 assists, adding two blocks and one steal to boot.

2. Alex Caruso, Texas A&M: Caruso finished with 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting, adding six steals, six assists and six boards as the Aggies came from behind to beat Arizona State on Saturday afternoon. Texas A&M was down as much as 13. Kourtney Roberson hit a free throw with 5.1 seconds left for the win.

3. Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall: The star freshman for the Pirates seems to be hitting his stride. He finished with 25 points on 9-for-15 shooting (4-for-5 from three), five assists, three steals and no turnovers in a blowout win over Rutgers.

STRUGGLED:

1. Phil Forte, Oklahoma State: There aren’t five shooters in the country more lethal than Forte. You wouldn’t know it based on Saturday. He was 1-for-14 from the floor and 1-for-10 from three.

2. Purdue: The Boilermakers looked really good during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge when they knocked off N.C. State at Mackey Arena. On Saturday, they followed that up by losing to North Florida, 73-70.

3. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets lost to USC Upstate at home despite the face that the Spartans shot 30 percent from the floor.

NOTABLES

  • Oklahoma State suffered its first loss of the season in rough fashion, falling 75-49 at South Carolina. Duane Notice led the Gamecocks with 20 points.
  • Texas A&M erased an 11-point halftime deficit to beat Arizona State 72-71 in College Station. Kourtney Roberson’s free throw with 5.1 seconds remaining was the difference.
  • Tennessee managed to hold off Kansas State 65-64, with the Wildcats’ Marcus Foster going on a late three-point barrage that nearly erased a ten-point Volunteer lead.
  • Harvard needed two overtimes to vanquish Vermont but the Crimson got the job done, winning 64-52 in Burlington. Wesley Saunders (25 points, seven steals and six assists) led the way for Harvard.
  • Guards Ralston Turner, Anthony Barber and Trevor Lacey combined to score 50 points as NC State beat Wake Forest 78-65 in the ACC opener for both.
  • Northern Iowa is now 8-0 after beating George Mason 71-65 in overtime.
  • Xavier and Alabama combined to score 110 points in the second half of their game Saturday, but it was the Musketeers’ play in the first half that gave them the cushion needed to beat the Crimson Tide 97-84.
  • Having lost two of their last three games Rhode Island got back on track in emphatic fashion, winning 75-43 at Southern Miss.
  • Since suffering a disappointing home loss to USC, New Mexico has won two straight. Saturday they won 63-46 at 8-2 Valparaiso.
  • Derrick Marks scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Boise State to an 82-71 win at Saint Mary’s.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 8 Wichita State 81, Saint Louis 52
  • No. 10 Villanova 74, Saint Joseph’s 46
  • No. 14 Ohio State 70, Colgate 50
  • No. 19 Michigan State 85, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 52
  • No. 21 Maryland 82, Winthrop 62
  • No. 23 Butler 65, Northwestern 56
  • No. 24 Illinois 70, American 55

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.