Reserve outrage over Rasheed Sulaimon going to Maryland

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Former Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon announced on Monday that he will continue his college career at Maryland. If he finishes his undergraduate requirements this summer and graduates from Duke, he will be eligible immediately.

And thus completes a spring that could not have gone any better for Mark Turgeon or the Terps. Not only did Melo Trimble, a potential all-american point guard, return for his sophomore season, but Maryland landed a commitment from top ten recruit Diamond Stone and got wing Jake Layman back for his senior season. All that came after they avoided an upset at the hands of Valpo in the opening round of the NCAA tournament thanks to this no-call. The only real question mark heading into the 2015-16 season, if there was one, was at the off-guard spot, and that’s no longer an issue with Sulaimon entering the fray.

Maryland could very well end up being the preseason No. 1 team in the country when those polls are released in the fall. As of today, we have Maryland at No. 2 in the country with the addition of Sulaimon.

And that will surely be a point of contention for some.

Let me explain.

Sulaimon’s career never took off the way many expected in Durham. After a strong freshman campaign, averaging 11.6 points, that had the former McDonald’s All-American considering a jump to the NBA, Sulaimon struggled the last two years as he failed to find a way to fit into a role on the Duke roster. In late-January of 2015, Sulaimon became the first player to ever be dismissed from the Duke program in Mike Krzyzewski’s tenure.

That dismissal came a month before The Chronicle, Duke’s student newspaper, published a story that claimed two female students had accused Sulaimon of sexually assaulting them while hinting that the investigation into those accusations played a role in Sulaimon’s dismissal. No allegations were ever filed with Duke’s Office of Student Conduct or the Durham police, and Sulaimon strongly and publicly denied the accusations in an interview last month.

In other words, not only Sulaimon was never formally charged, he was never formally accused of sexual assault. Sulaimon told ESPN that he was investigated and cleared by Duke’s Office of Student Conduct after they received word of the claims, which were made at a group retreat during Sulaimon’s sophomore year. Both Sulaimon and the Duke program have stressed that his dismissal had everything to do with, as Coach K put it, Sulaimon’s inability to “consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program,” and nothing to do with the sexual assault allegations. And after his dismissal from the basketball team, he has remained in school, on track to graduate in August.

That doesn’t sound like Duke believes Sulaimon to be a sexual predator, and that means the onus is on Maryland to determine whether or not they are comfortable allowing him to spend a year on their campus.

“We did our due diligence,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon told ESPN.com. “We were extremely thorough and talked to a lot of people and vetted the entire situation.”

You can be sure they did.

Maryland accepted Dez Wells, who was an all-conference guard for the Terps, as a transfer three years ago after Wells was accused of sexual assault at Xavier and expelled from the university. Wells denied those accusations, and had a county prosecutor back him up. He filed a lawsuit against the university over his expulsion and settled out of court a year ago. You can also bet that the university is well aware of what happened at Oregon last year, when Brandon Austin, who was accused of sexual assault at Providence before leaving the school, was again accused of sexual assault after arriving on the Eugene campus.

Maryland knows the risks associated with bringing in a player that has this hanging over his head.

And if they’re comfortable with it, if they did their homework and believe what Sulaimon is saying, then I have a hard time being outraged by this decision.

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.