Rivalry renewed: Georgetown wins, but it wasn’t the same without Boeheim

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — It’s no longer a conference game, and given the fact that both teams are likely bound for the NCAA tournament regardless of the outcome, it’s now a relatively meaningless December non-conference game between a team that probably won’t win the Big East and a team that probably isn’t going to win the ACC.

Good luck explaining that to Georgetown and No. 14 Syracuse.

Or their fans.

It was business as usual for them, a sea of Orange flooding the bars of D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood prior to the first game between the two arch-rivals since the Orange took down Georgetown in overtime during the 2013 Big East tournament. As has become commonplace for when these games get played in the District, the upper deck of the Verizon Center was a sea of orange and navy blue. Meanwhile, the Georgetown season-ticket holders that meander to their seats in the middle of the first half when teams like Bryant and Maryland-Eastern Shore visit the Phone Booth were there, beer already in hand, before the lights went down for Georgetown’s introductions.

The rivalry was officially renewed, the 33-month hiatus doing little to quell the healthy dislike between the two programs. The Verizon Center was packed, the atmosphere was awesome, and, as always, John Thompson Jr. — the man responsible for sparking this rivalry — was perched on the baseline, watching over his son, who now runs the program Pops built into a national power.

The only thing that was missing was the bespectacled curmudgeon himself.


48 hours before Syracuse was to tip off in the Verizon Center, the NCAA finally ruled on a Syracuse appeal of the punishment that was handed down earlier this year for violations that were committed within the program. Jim Boeheim’s nine-game suspension was no longer going to be put off until the start of ACC play.

It was going into effect immediately.

That’s why Boeheim wasn’t on the sideline on Saturday afternoon, instead watching the game at home on the couch by himself. That’s why longtime Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins was coaching his first career game, a moment that he’s been waiting for for a long, long time. Hop has been with the Syracuse program for more than half of his life. After playing for Syracuse for four seasons, he’s been on Boeheim’s staff for two decades. He bleeds Orange as much as anyone in Upstate New York, a region that cares about their college hoops almost as much as Kentucky cares about their’s.

Hop has long been a named that pops up during the coaching carousel. He’s been in the mix for more than a few jobs, but has yet to make it past the interview stage. Why hire someone you know is going to be gone the second the 71-year old Boeheim decides to call it a career?

“I’ve been preparing myself to be a head coach for 20 years,” Hopkins said. “It’s always what I wanted to be and I always visualize myself doing it. I was really excited to go out there. First game ever is one of the greatest rivalries in college basketball was kind of surreal.”

But it was more than that, too.

You see, during Boeheim’s suspension, not only is he not allowed on the sidelines during games or at practices while he’s away, he’s not allowed to speak to anyone on the team. Not the players, not the coaches, not the managers. He can’t even send Hop a text telling him he did an admirable job as a Division I head coach for the first time in his life.

He’s completely isolated.

And for Hop, that’s the toughest part.

“Imagine all of a sudden someone came and said you can’t talk to your father for a month and they live down the street,” Hop said, struggling to hold back tears for the second time during his press conference. “That’s tough.”

The first time?

It was when he explained that the Orange had left a seat open on the bench, a message to the coach that they cannot contact that he’s still with them now.

“I wanted this win for him tonight,” Hop said.

“I think it’s getting to him a little bit,” senior guard Trevor Cooney said. “It’s a tough situation to be in but I think he’s handling it well.”

Boeheim played as much of a role in making this rivalry a thing as John Thompson Jr. did. He built the program into a national title contender the same way Big John did the Hoyas, but he, too, was unafraid of creating a firestorm with what he said publicly about the Hoyas. Big John told us that Manley Fieldhouse was officially closed. Boeheim told us that Michael Graham punched his player, and that the better team didn’t win.

Unlike Boeheim, Big John’s coaching career came to an end, but he is omnipresent within the Georgetown program, forever perched on the Verizon Center baseline, posted in the back of every press conference, unafraid of piping up and letting an unwitting reporter know how he feels about a dumb question.

I’m not here to stand up for Boehiem or to say his punishment was wrong. His program cheated under his watch and he opted, last February, to impose a postseason ban in the middle of the season, meaning his seniors would never get to play in an ACC or NCAA tournament game again.

That’s despicable.

I’m not here to fight a public relations battle for him.

But I will lament the fact that the NCAA couldn’t have held out on their ruling until Monday.

Georgetown students will probably disagree. The “Where is Boeheim?” chants started during warmups. The Georgetown Stonewalls, a group of fans that sit in the lower bowl near the visitor’s bench, put together a tifo with pictures of Boeheim looking embarrassed and the NCAA’s statement on his violations. They enjoyed taking their shots at him almost as much as they enjoyed the win.


But this game — this rivalry, this event — just wasn’t the same without Boeheim stalking the sidelines. The renewal of the rivalry deserved to have both of the men that ignited it there.


The game itself wasn’t much to speak of.

Senior big man Bradley Hayes led the way with 21 points and 10 boards and Isaac Copeland chipped in with 14 points and four boards of his own as Georgetown knocked off No. 14 Syracuse, 79-72.

“He’s a senior at Georgetown playing against Syracuse,” John Thompson III said. “If he’s not fired up for this game we made a lot of mistakes he last four years.”

The Hoyas jumped out to a 26-12 lead midway through the first half on the strength of their front court, as Marcus Derrickson and Copeland were able to pick apart the Orange 2-3 zone from the high post. JT III is known for a Princeton-style offense that makes man-to-man defenses pay for being overaggressive, but on Saturday afternoon, his Hoyas put on a clinic in how to run zone offense.

Derrickson was the unsung hero. Not only did he finish with 13 points, ten boards and a pair of assists, but he also took three key charges, two of which came early in the second half as Georgetown was able to extend the lead out to 20 points. “I love it when Marcus rebounds like he did today,” JT III said. Syracuse made a run late in the game, cutting the lead to single-digits with time left on the clock and getting as close as six points late, but the Hoyas made just enough free throws to avoid a complete collapse late.

The Orange really struggled on the offensive end of the floor in the first half, shooting just 2-for-13 from beyond the arc as the Hoyas made a concerted effort to run them off the three-point line. Hopkins credited Georgetown’s ball-screen defense. Cooney said it was due to the way that the Hoyas help on the weak side, but regardless of why, the point remains the same: This Syracuse team relies heavily on the three-ball, and their struggles to get good looks from deep is why they found themselves in a huge hole early.

The biggest issue for the Orange is when they face teams with powerful front lines. Their best offensive lineup features Tyler Lydon at the five and Tyler Roberson at the four, but that leaves them susceptible to guys like Hayes, big men that can establish post position and score on duck-ins. DaJuan Coleman is really their only option at center, but he finished Saturday afternoon’s game without a single defensive rebound and takes away their ability to stretch the floor offensively.

The bottom line is that the Hoyas outplayed Syracuse.


This wasn’t just a result of Boeheim not being on the sideline.

“Mike, he’s been sitting on that bench over half his life,” JT III said, a statement meant as a compliment that also drove home a point: There should be no asterisk next to this game. Georgetown didn’t win because Boeheim was gone. “[Hop]’s not going to try to reinvent he wheel. It is what it is.”

“He’s had a lot of input in what they do as time has gone on.”


Big John has never been afraid of taking a shot at the Orange publicly.

In a moment of honesty, he may actually tell you it’s his favorite this to do. In addition to closing Manley Fieldhouse, Big John also said to a room full of reporters, after Georgetown’s 61-39 win over the Orange in their last regular season Big East tilt, “Kiss Syracuse goodbye!”

Did he have anything planned for today?

“I like to make him mad,” Big John, never one to shy away from verbal battle, said of Boeheim, with a laugh. “He’s already mad.”

Purdue’s Edey returning to school at NBA draft deadline; Kentucky’s Tshiebwe stays in

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Purdue’s Zach Edey decided it was the right call to go back to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. His predecessor as national player of the year, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, is sticking with his pro pursuit.

And Connecticut’s reign as NCAA champion will begin with multiple starters having left for the NBA draft and one returning after flirting with doing the same.

The 7-foot-4 Edey and UConn guard Tristen Newton were among the notable names to announce that they were withdrawing from the draft, the NCAA’s deadline for players who declared as early entrants to pull out and retain their college eligibility.

Edey’s decision came in social media posts from both the center and the Boilermakers program that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Edey, The Associated Press men’s national player of the year.

But Tshiebwe announced late in the afternoon that he would remain in the draft after a college career that included being named the AP national player of the year in 2022.

For the current champions, Newton (10.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds) is returning after being one of four Huskies to declare for the draft after a run to UConn’s fifth national championship in early April. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in the victory over San Diego State in the title game.

The others were Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, wing Jordan Hawkins and versatile guard Andre Jackson Jr. Sanogo (17.8 points) and Hawkins (16.3) have made it clear they have closed the door on their college careers, while team spokesman Phil Chardis said that Jackson (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists) would remain in the draft.

The Huskies have 247sports’ No. 3-ranked recruiting class for next year to restock the roster, led by McDonald’s All-American point guard Stephon Castle.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 12, but is moot when it comes to college players returning to school due to the NCAA’s earlier timeline to retain playing eligibility.


TREY ALEXANDER: Creighton gets back a 6-4 guard who averaged 13.6 points and shot 41% from 3-point range in his first full season as a starter.

ADEM BONA: The 6-foot-10 forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year is returning to UCLA after starting 32 games as a rookie and averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks – with coach Mick Cronin praising his toughness for “competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could” in a statement Wednesday.

EDEY: He averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 60.7% from the field. His presence alone helps Purdue be a factor in the Big Ten race.

JOSIAH-JORDAN JAMES: The 6-6 guard went through the NBA G League Combine and had workouts with multiple teams before opting to return to Tennessee for a fifth season alongside teammate Santiago Vescovi.

JUDAH MINTZ: The 6-3 freshman averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists for Syracuse, ranking third among Division I freshmen in scoring behind only Alabama’s Brandon Miller and Lamar’s Nate Calmese.

OWLS’ RETURNEES: Florida Atlantic got good news after its surprise Final Four run with the return leading scorers Johnell Davis (13.8) and Alijah Martin (13.4). ESPN first reported their decisions, while Martin later posted a social media statement.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR.: Illinois got a big boost with Shannon announcing his night in a social media post. The 6-6 guard is returning for a fifth college season after averaging 17.2 points.

SPARTANS’ RETURNEES: Michigan State announced that guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Standout guard Tyson Walker had previously withdrawn in April, setting up Tom Izzo to have five of his top scorers back.


KOBE BROWN: Missouri’s 6-8 swingman opted against returning for a fifth college season after being an AP first-team all-Southeastern Conference pick averaging 15.8 points last season.

JAYLEN CLARK: The third-year UCLA guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while leading the Pac-12 with 2.6 steals en route to being named Naismith national defensive player of the year. Cronin called him a winner with strong intangibles who made UCLA “a better program because he chose to be a Bruin.”

BRICE SENSABAUGH: The Ohio State freshman averaged 16.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31 games before missing his final two in the Big Ten Tournament due to a knee injury. He’s a potential first-round prospect.

TSHIEBWE: The 6-9, 260-pound forward is a tough interior presence who led the country in rebounds for two straight seasons (15.1 in 2022, 13.7 in 2023) while racking up 48 double-doubles. But he faces an uncertain next stop and is projected at best as a second-round prospect.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

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Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”