Late Night Snacks: No. 1 North Carolina, No. 23 Purdue roll

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GAME OF THE DAY: Lafayette 87, Saint Peter’s 86 (OT)

Sunday afternoon’s matchup between the Leopards and Peacocks was a wild one, as Fran O’Hanlon’s team led by as much as 17 before Saint Peter’s mounted a rally to trim their halftime deficit to five points. Saint Peter’s was able to take a two-point lead in the final minute of regulation, but two Matt Klinewski free throws sent the game into overtime. SPC scored 11 of the first 13 points of overtime and looked to be well-position to grab the win away from home, but three Lafayette steals and ten points from Nick Lindner over the final 1:30 of overtime gave the defending Patriot League tournament champions the one-point victory.

Lindner finished the game with 22 points and six assists, with Trevis Wyche accounting for 18 points and five assists to pace the Peacocks.

SCORES YOU NEED TO KNOW

No. 1 North Carolina 92, Fairfield 65: The top-ranked Tar Heels moved to 2-0 on the season with a comfortable win over visiting Fairfield. Nate Britt led the way offensively with 17 points and five assists, with four other Tar Heels finishing in double figures. Britt, whose shooting woes led to him switching shooting hands (from left to right) before his sophomore season, made four of his six attempts from beyond the arc. Sophomore wing Theo Pinson led the Tar Heels, who assisted on 22 of their 33 made field goals, with eight helpers on the afternoon.

As a team North Carolina shot just 8-for-23 from three but they found quality looks inside of the arc, shooting 58.1 percent from two and scoring 40 points in the paint. UNC also outscored the Stags 22-0 in the points off turnovers category, and they shot nearly 55 percent from the field in the second half to pull away from a team they led by just eight (40-32) at the intermission.

No. 23 Purdue 107, Vermont 79: Purdue shot so well from three that “The Paint Crew” ran out of placards to signal each made three-pointer. Matt Painter’s Boilermakers shot 18-for-36 from three against the Catamounts, who focused their defensive efforts on keeping Purdue out of the paint. Purdue outscored Vermont 54-15 from three, which more than made up for the Catamounts’ 36-34 edge in points in the paint. Dakota Mathias led the way for Purdue with 17 points in 20 minutes off the bench, one of six players to reach double figures for the home team.

Isaac Haas added 16 points and forwards Vince Edwards and Caleb Swanigan tallied 14 apiece, with the latter also grabbing 13 rebounds for his second double-double in as many games. The front court more than made up for the absence of A.J. Hammons, who was sidelined for a third consecutive game (one exhibition and two regular season games) for an unspecified reason. Ernie Duncan scored a game-high 18 points to lead Vermont, who was allowed to have 2015 signee Josh Speidel on their bench for the game. Speidel, who suffered a serious head injury in a car accident last February, was honored prior to Sunday’s game.

No. 17 Wisconsin 92, Siena 65: Bo Ryan’s Badgers rebounded from their season-opening loss to Western Illinois in a big way, taking care of the Saints by 27 in Madison. Bronson Koenig led the way with 23 points, five rebounds and four assists, and as a team Wisconsin shot 58.5 percent from the field. Wisconsin was also better defensively than they were in the opener, as Siena shot just 39.3 percent from the field and 3-for-16 from three. Guards Nico Clareth (21 points) and Marquis Wright (17) led the way offensively for the Saints, who opened their season with road games against last year’s national finalists.

Valparaiso 83, Iona 58: Two teams expected to be among the best mid-major programs in the country met in Valparaiso, and the game wasn’t close at all. Bryce Drew’s team controlled the action from start to finish, with their defense doing a good job of limiting Iona’s quality looks. Tevonn Walker scored 17 points and Shane Hammink 16 to lead the way for the Crusaders, who finished with five players in double figures. Iona, which shot just 29 percent from the field in their season opener, received 12 points apiece from A.J. English and Deyshonee Much. Much, who began his career at Buffalo, was granted a waiver that made him eligible to compete immediately just hours before Sunday’s game.

STARRED

Elijah Brown, New Mexico: Brown scored 31 points, shooting 13-for-14 from the foul line, while also grabbing six rebounds to lead the Lobos to an 83-74 win at rival New Mexico State.

Cat Barber, NC State: Barber led the Wolfpack to an 88-70 win over South Alabama, tallying 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.

Mike Brown, Western Carolina: Brown accounted for 29 points, four rebounds and seven assists in the Catamounts’ 90-81 win over UNC Asheville.

Jae’Sean Tate, Ohio State: Tate finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and three assists in Ohio State’s 76-54 win over Mount St. Mary’s.

STRUGGLED

Robert Morris: The Colonials couldn’t get anything going at Cincinnati, shooting 27.7 percent from the field and committing 24 turnovers in a 106-44 loss.

Emile Blackman, Niagara: Blackman made just one of his 12 shots from the field, scoring five points in the Purple Eagles’ 73-62 loss at Saint Joseph’s.

Ryan Bowie, UTSA: Bowie shot 2-for-13 from the field, scoring six points in the Roadrunners’ 78-45 loss at Clemson.

Iona: One of the nation’s top scoring teams last season, the Gaels shot just 29 percent from the field in an 83-58 season opening loss at Valparaiso.

NOTABLES

  • Farad Cobb scored 15 points to lead eight players in double figures as Cincinnati whipped Robert Morris, 106-44. Mick Cronin’s Bearcats are a team to keep an eye on as the season progresses; they have enough talent to make some serious noise.
  • Thomas Welsh scored 22 points and Tony Parker added 16 and 13 rebounds to help UCLA hold off Cal Poly by the final score of 88-83. UCLA managed to rebound from their overtime loss to Monmouth on Friday.
  • Florida State opened its season in impressive fashion, shooting 65.5 percent from the field in a 109-62 win over Nicholls State. Freshmen Dwayne Bacon (23 points) and Malik Beasley (21) led the way offensively for the Seminoles.
  • Thad Matta picked up his 300th win as head coach at Ohio State, as the Buckeyes beat Mount St. Mary’s 76-54 in Columbus.
  • Wake Forest, which went 2-10 in road games last season, mounted a second half comeback to win 90-82 at Bucknell. The Demon Deacons outscored the Bison 53-34 in the second half.
  • Illinois rebounded from its season-opening loss, scoring 52 points in the second half to come back and beat North Dakota State 80-74. Mike Thorne Jr. scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Alex Austin helped change the momentum on the defensive end in the second half.
  • Aaron Brown and Isaiah Miles scored 14 apiece to help lead Saint Joseph’s to a 73-62 win over Niagara. If players such as Brown, Miles and Pierfrancesco Oliva can step forward to consistently help DeAndre Bembry offensively, the Hawks can make significant strides within the Atlantic 10.
  • Dorian Pickens tallied 20 points, six rebounds and eight assists and Rosco Allen added 19 points and six boards as Stanford rolled past Charleston Southern. Due to injuries the Cardinal are using Christian Sanders at the point, and as a team they racked up 20 assists Sunday night.

 

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.