No. 1 Virginia runs past No. 4 Iowa State

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
0 Comments

CHICAGO — The United Center was a sea of red and essentially doubled as Hilton Coliseum East on Friday night.

No. 1 seed Virginia didn’t seem to mind.

The Cavaliers jumped out to a 12-2 run to open the game and silenced the heavily pro-Cyclone crowd numerous times as Virginia advanced to the Elite Eight with an 84-71 win over No. 4 seed Iowa State in the Midwest Regional.

Virginia (29-7) prevented “Hilton Magic” from crossing state lines into Illinois as the Cavalier offense looked unstoppable against a helpless Cyclone defense for most of the game. Even with senior Malcolm Brogdon (12 points, 4-for-13 shooting) having a so-so night, Virginia carved up the Iowa State zone, and when the Cyclones tried to switch to man, they didn’t fare much better.

Virginia shot 56 percent (32-for-57) from the field for the game and collected seven offensive rebounds that led to 12 second-chance points.

The inside duo of senior Mike Tobey (18 points, seven rebounds) and senior Anthony Gill (23 points, seven rebounds) proved to be too much for Iowa State’s interior defense to handle as they combined to shoot 16-for-22 from the field, soundly outplaying struggling Iowa State senior center Jameel McKay (four points, four rebounds).

“Since he had 20 rebounds our last [home regular season] game, he’s been playing that way since then,” teammate London Perrantes said of Tobey’s play. “I think it finally clicked that it’s his last go-around. So he’s not going out without a fight.”

Iowa State (23-12) never held a lead on Friday and also dealt with foul issues to star senior forward Georges Niang. When Niang picked up his fourth foul early in the second half, Iowa State had made a run to cut the Virginia lead to eight, but the Cavaliers pushed their lead back to 15 when Niang had to sit a few minutes. Niang led the Cyclones with 30 points and eight rebounds but he didn’t get much help from his teammates.

“I probably could have done a better job of putting myself in a better position, being a senior and not putting myself in position to pick up fouls,” Niang said. “Obviously that was frustrating, but this is do or die, win or go home, so I really just had to figure out a way to get through it.”

Junior Matt Thomas also added 12 points for the Cyclones while junior point guard Monte Morris finished with 10 points and eight assists. Deonte Burton added 11 points off the bench for Iowa State.

From there, the Cavaliers melted away clock with its patient offense and held on for the rest of the game. Virginia only committed seven turnovers for the game and made it difficult for Iowa State to get back in the game once they took the commanding early lead. Junior London Perrantes played a solid floor game to finish with six points and nine assists while sophomore Isaiah Wilkins added 12 points.

Virginia moves on to its first Elite Eight since 1995 and head coach Tony Bennett is building a force to be reckoned with in the ACC. The Cavaliers play a slow tempo and haven’t produced a lot of NBA-caliber talent over the last few years, but they continue to be one of the ACC’s best programs as they’re now one game away from the Final Four.

“You know, we’ve had a long season, and I feel like we’ve just gotten better and better,” Brogdon said. “We’ve battled through our ups and downs, and it’s a huge accomplishment.”

With a loaded recruiting class coming in next year, it’s not likely that Virginia falls from this kind of success anytime soon as they should have enough talent next season to be a major competitor in the national landscape as well.

This was the last chance for Iowa State to make a run behind Niang, who finishes his career as one of the Big 12’s best players in recent memory. With Niang, McKay and Abdel Nader all exhausting their eligibility, we’ll start to see more of an Iowa State roster that is Steve Prohm’s and it’ll be interesting to see how that transition goes after the talent assembled by former coach Fred Hoiberg starts to move on.

Prohm will have a lot of pressure on him to win with his own players, but he had a successful Sweet 16 run with this group and they were able to come together after a miserable stretch in the middle of the season that saw the Cyclones lose five of eight.

Virginia will face the winner of the No. 10 seed Syracuse and No. 11 seed Gonzaga game at the United Center on Sunday. The Cavaliers have previously defeated the Orange in ACC play, as Virginia won, 73-65, at home on Jan. 24.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

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

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

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

uconn
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
0 Comments

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.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

Getty Images
0 Comments

TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

Getty Images
1 Comment

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.