Wyoming’s Larry Shyatt reprimanded by Mountain West for scathing comments

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Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt has been publicly reprimanded by the Mountain West Conference following the comments he made regarding the league’s decision to only invite the top eight teams from an 11-team conference to the postseason tournament.

The change will be implemented beginning in 2017. The conference also announced earlier this month that the league tournament will continue to be held at the Thomas & Mack Center, UNLV’s full-time home court, through 2019. It’s been at the T&M every year since 2007 and 13 of the last 16 seasons. That has also irked Shyatt.

Shyatt read the statement on behalf of the other ten coaches in the conference.

Here is Shyatt’s statement in its entirety:

“As chairman of the men’s basketball coaches, I feel it’s appropriate to address the shocking announcement for all of our student-athletes and coaches who were recently stripped, removed and/or eliminated from their ‘opportunity’ to qualify for the Big Dance. A dream of every men’s basketball player ever since the inception of conference tournaments.

Since I represent the men’s coaches, my comments will be on their behalf, although I do realize over 28 percent of all of our men’s and women’s student-athletes have now been eliminated from their opportunity they so deserve. I have also waited a couple of weeks to remove the emotion and collect as many thoughts from the people whose opportunities have been stripped, student-athletes and coaches.

Moreover, the way in which these student-athletes and coaches were to find out, in an age of student-athlete opportunity and welfare is pursuant, becomes even more disappointing and embarrassing. As chairman of the men’s basketball coaches, I am on the phone every two to three days each and every week to stay in constant communication with anything related to our student-athletes and discussions that are relevant. When the presidents and athletic directors met a couple weeks ago there was no, I repeat no communication or dialogue to discuss any such action. I spoke constantly with our assistant commissioner for men’s basketball who also had no communication or dialogue about the action that would take place. In an age of mass communication it’s embarrassing that perhaps the most intelligent group of men and women at our institutions would choose to eliminate, strip and remove from three teams the opportunity they have always worked two semesters for without any discussion or opportunity to speak to not one single coach or student-athlete involved.

Furthermore, it would be equally distressing if there was a president or any athletic director that thought for a moment or spoke or suggested something like ‘who cares what the coaches or student-athletes think about this action.’ Could there be a more sad and shallow kind of communication and understanding? Yes, we the coaches and student-athletes were bamboozled as President Obama would say. Was the need to strip, remove and eliminate these teams from their dreams and opportunity so important to come to an extremely curious and suspiciously quick vote without further research that is necessary? Could no one in the room perhaps suggest that we could ‘General Patton’ the situation and look at all the other options as to not strip, remove and eliminate these student-athletes’ opportunity to qualify for the NCAA tournament? What was the rush? A week, a month, three months to find perhaps yet another alternative as to not foil these student-athletes’ dreams.

Shortly after this surprising vote took place, I was informed by our commissioner that there were two reasons given, No. 1 finances and No. 2 that this was something that was similar to what some other sports in our league were experiencing. Men’s basketball, however, has been the torch bearer for our league. Specifically since the departure of Utah, BYU and TCU recently. In fact in men’s basketball we have received 17 NCAA bids the last five years. That is approximately 3.5 bids per year, nothing like a one-bid league. Here are the 20 conferences who continue to provide all of their men’s student-athletes the opportunity to have one more chance to run the table to the big dance: ACC, Atlantic 10, Atlantic Sun, Big 12, Big East, Big Sky, Big South, Big Ten, Colonial, Horizon, MAAC, Mid-American, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Pac 12, Patriot, SEC, SoCon and West Coast. And here are the only three that have removed a large (over 25 percent) of their student-athletes opportunities: Ohio Valley, Southland and Sun Belt.

Obviously this action to remove, strip and eliminate student-athletes’ opportunity is on that has been taken in low-budget and one-bid leagues. It is both and insult and embarrassing especially that the surprise vote and action was taken with no interesting in searching for the student-athletes and coaches involved. In situations where there is such a surprise with no notice, no inclusion and no communication, not one word uttered to an assistant commissioner, there seems to be a degree of behind-the-scenes plotting by someone or someones as to not let the cat out of the bag. We coaches are often critized by making quick emotional decisions and often are asked to go up to our athletic directors about certain issues. When we deal with our young student-athletes, however, we don’t expect them always to come to us with their concerns, interests and issues. We go to them both individually and collectively. In my opinion that is how trust and communication works best for all.

Months ago, I purposely brought up at the our spring meetings that as soon as our basketball coaches reach 14 or 15 wins, we should proudly communicate our student-athletes have become “bowl eligible.” It drew a snicker, which it was supposed to, because my point was precise. Those student-athletes work really hard and deserve their accolades and opportunities, as 82 out of 128 (64 percent) of them will have this additional postseason opportunity. Our young men too work their tails off on and off the court every bit as hard as others, deserve to be congratulated and praised as well. In the case of the latest action taken from our presidents and athletic directors quite the opposite approach was taken. We coaches all knew that, regardless of the research, we would continue to play our men’s tournament on UNLV’s home court because of financial reasons only. That was coming, but the decision to strip, eliminate and remove the opportunity of our men’s student-athletes’ was not even spoken about with any of us.

In my 41 years as a basketball coach, I have seen some wonderful illustrations of these second-opportunities being afforded. In 2001, a ninth-seeded Connecticut ran the table to win the Big East tournament. They then went on to beat our own San Diego State in the Sweet 16 and became national champions. Just last year, our Wyoming team led our conference to six weeks only to have two key forwards contract mono and have us slip to fifth place. Four weeks later a healthy team came back with their last, but deserved, opportunity to win the conference tourney and compete in the big dance. What if our team had been a solid fourth place, slipped to eighth or ninth and was now stripped, eliminated or removed from that deserved opportunity. Also, what about three or four-way ties in the final week of conference play? What do the fans and family members of those student-athletes plan? (flights/hotels/tickets) Will they be reimbursed? In an age of fiscal responsibility do we now choose to neglect those monetary needs?

In my opinion, this action was wrong, non-inclusive and quite opposite to where student-athletes’ welfare has gone in the last few years. If we can take action for unlimited nutrition and meals and add the cost of attendance money for student-athletes, why would we limit the men’s basketball conference tournament opportunities? Simply to save money?

This goes against the core of where main-stream collegiate athletics has been headed, which is student-athlete opportunities and well-being. Why remove the over 28 percent of our young student-athletes’ last opportunity and their dream to compete for a berth in the big dance. I only pray that these opportunities for these student-athletes will be restored soon.”

College basketball broadcaster Billy Packer dies at 82

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday. He was 82.

Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.

Packer’s broadcasting career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer said. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”

Packer played three seasons at Wake Forest, and helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Final Four in 1962, but it was his work as an analyst that brought him the most acclaim.

He joined NBC in 1974 and called his first Final Four in 1975. UCLA beat Kentucky in the title game that year in what was John Wooden’s final game as coach.

Packer was also part of the broadcast in 1979 with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad in the title game. That remains highest-rated game in basketball history with a 24.1 Nielsen rating, which is an estimated 35.1 million viewers.

Packer went to CBS in the fall of 1981, when the network acquired the rights to the NCAA Tournament. He remained the network’s main analyst until the 2008 Final Four.

In 1996 at CBS, Packer was involved in controversy when he used the term “tough monkey? to describe then-Georgetown star Allen Iverson during a game. Packer later said he “was not apologizing for what I said, because what I said has no implications in my mind whatsoever to do with Allen Iverson’s race.?

Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said Packer was “synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and set the standard of excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport.” McManus said. “In true Billy fashion, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, yet always kept the focus on the game. As passionate as he was about basketball, at his heart Billy was a family man. He leaves part of his legacy at CBS Sports, across college basketball and, most importantly, as a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Packer was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale took to Twitter as word of Packer’s death spread. “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball,” Vitale tweeted. “My (prayers) go out to Billy’s son Mark & the entire Packer family. Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP.”

College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted: “We fell in love (with) college basketball because of you. Your voice will remain in my head forever.”

Packer was viewed as a controversial figure during his broadcasting days, often drawing the ire of college basketball fans, particularly on North Carolina’s “Tobacco Road.”

“As a kid, I was a big NC State fan growing up, and I would watch a game and the next day I’d be like, `Boy you sure have it out for NC State, don’t you?’ And he would just laugh,” Mark Packer said.

The younger Packer, who is the host of ACC PM on the ACC Network, said it didn’t matter what school – most fans felt the same way about his father.

“He would cover North Carolina game and Tar Heels fans would be like, `you hate North Carolina,”‘ Mark Packer said. “Wake (Forest) fans would be like, `you hate us.’ And Billy just sort of got a kick out of that.”

Mark Packer said that while most fans will remember his father as a broadcaster, he’ll remember him even more for his business acumen. He said his father was a big real estate investor, and also owned a vape company, among other ventures.

“Billy was always a bit of a hustler – he was always looking for that next business deal,” Packer said.

Clemson starter Galloway will miss time after surgery

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson starter Brevin Galloway is expected to miss games for the 24th-ranked Tigers after having surgery on his groin area Thursday.

The 6-foot-3 Galloway has started 20 of 21 games after transferring from Boston College this past offseason.

Galloway posted on social media that he’d had the surgery. Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that Galloway had the operation.

Galloway said in his post he will be in uniform soon. He is not expected to play at Florida State on Saturday.

A fifth-year player, Galloway has averaged 10.6 points a game this season. He’s second on the Tigers with 55 assists and 18 steals.

The Tigers (17-4) lead the Atlantic Coast Conference at 9-1 in league play.

Clemson is already down two experienced players due to injury.

Point guard Chase Hunter, who started the team’s first 18 games, has missed the past three with a foot injury.

Guard Alex Hemenway, in his fourth season, has missed the past nine games with a foot injury. Hemenway was the team’s leading 3-point shooter (27 of 54) before getting hurt.

Zach Edey has 19 points, No. 1 Purdue beats Michigan 75-70

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Zach Edey had 15 of his 19 points in the first half and Fletcher Loyer finished with 17 points to help No. 1 Purdue hold off Michigan 75-70 on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten) had a 15-0 run to go ahead 41-28 lead in the first half after there were 10 lead changes and four ties, but they couldn’t pull away.

The Wolverines (11-9, 5-4) were without standout freshman Jett Howard, who missed the game with an ankle injury, and still hung around until the final seconds.

Joey Baker made a 3-pointer – off the glass – with 5.9 seconds left to pull Michigan within three points, but Purdue’s Brandon Newman sealed the victory with two free throws.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Michigan slowed down Edey in the second half by pushing him away from the basket.

“They got him out a little more, and got him bottled up,” Painter said.

The 7-foot-4 Edey, though, was too tough to stop early in the game.

“He’s one of the best in the country for a reason,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s very effective, especially if he’s 8 feet and in.”

With size and skills such as a hook shot, the junior center from Toronto scored Purdue’s first seven points and finished the first half 7 of 12 from the field and 1 of 2 at the line.

“He did a great job in the first half, going to his right shoulder and using his left hand,” Painter said. “He made four baskets with his left hand which is huge.”

Freshman Braden Smith had 10 points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue’s defense ultimately denied Michigan’s comeback hopes, holding a 22nd straight opponent to 70 or fewer points.

Hunter Dickinson scored 21, Kobe Bufkin had 16 points and Baker added 11 points for the Wolverines, who have lost four of their last six games.

Dickinson, a 7-1 center, matched up with Edey defensively and pulled him out of the lane offensively by making 3 of 7 3-pointers.

“Half his shots were from the 3, and that’s a little different,” Painter said. “His meat and potatoes are on that block. He’s the real deal.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Boilermakers got the top spot in the AP Top 25 this week after winning six games, a stretch that followed a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3 that dropped them from No. 1 in the poll. Purdue improved to 7-2 as the top-ranked team.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: Edey can’t beat teams by himself and he’s surrounded by a lot of role players and a potential standout in Loyer. The 6-4 guard was the Big Ten player of the week earlier this month, become the first Boilermaker freshman to win the award since Robbie Hummel in 2008.

“Fletcher is somebody who has played better in the second half, and on the road,” Painter said.

Michigan: Jett Howard’s health is a critical factor for the Wolverines, who will have some work to do over the second half of the Big Ten season to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Howard averages 14.6 points and is the most dynamic player on his father’s team.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Boilermakers were away from home for 12 of 23 days, winning all five of their road games. They won at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since the 1997-98 season and beat the Spartans and Wolverines on their home court in the same season for the first time in 12 years.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Hosts Michigan State on Sunday, nearly two weeks after the Boilermakers beat the Spartans by a point on Edey’s shot with 2.2 seconds left.

Michigan: Plays at Penn State on Sunday.

Miller scores 23, No. 10 Maryland tops No. 13 Michigan 72-64

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Diamond Miller scored 23 points, and No. 10 Maryland closed the first quarter with a 13-2 run and led the rest of the way in a 72-64 victory over No. 13 Michigan on Thursday night.

Abby Meyers contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (17-4, 8-2), who won for the 10th time in 11 games. Lavender Briggs scored 14 points and Shyanne Sellers added 13.

Maryland gained a measure of revenge after losing twice to Michigan last season – including a 20-point rout in College Park.

Leigha Brown led the Wolverines with 16 points.

Michigan (16-5, 6-4) led 13-9 in the first quarter before a three-point play by Miller started Maryland’s big run. Briggs and Faith Masonius made 3-pointers during that stretch.

The Terps pushed the lead to 16 in the third quarter before the Wolverines were able to chip away. Miller sat for a bit with four fouls, and Michigan cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines still wasted too many possessions with turnovers to mount much of a comeback.

Michigan ended up with 24 turnovers, and Maryland had a 25-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

Miller fouled out with 2:19 remaining, but even after those two free throws, the Terps led 65-57 and had little trouble holding on.

Michigan lost for the second time in four days against a top-10 opponent. No. 6 Indiana beat the Wolverines 92-83 on Monday.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Whether it was against Maryland’s press or in their half-court offense, the Wolverines turned the ball over too much to score consistently. This was a lower-scoring game than the loss to Indiana, but the margin ended up being similar.

Maryland: While Miller clearly led the way, the Terps had plenty of offensive contributors. They also held Michigan to 13 points below its season average entering the game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Wolverines have appeared in 48 straight AP polls, and although a two-loss week could certainly drop them, the quality of their opponents could save them from a substantial plunge.

Maryland is tied for 10th with an Iowa team that beat No. 2 Ohio State on Monday night. Now the Terps can boast an impressive victory of their own.

UP NEXT

Michigan: The Wolverines play their third game of the week when they visit Minnesota on Sunday.

Maryland: The Terps host Penn State on Monday night.

 

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.