LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Is Duke back?

0 Comments

FRIDAY’S THINGS TO KNOW

Is Duke back?

The Blue Devils took advantage of Joel Berry II’s foul trouble by going on a 29-8 run en route to a 93-83 win over arch rival North Carolina in the ACC Tournament title game. Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen were all clicking. Harry Giles showed flashes of the potential he had when he enrolled in Durham. … Isn’t this what we’ve been waiting for from Duke all season long? If so, it couldn’t be happening at a better time. CBT’s Rob Dauster was in Brooklyn and had several takeaways from Duke’s massive comeback win.

Josh Hart made a late push for national player of the year with a 19-point, 10-rebound effort in Villanova‘s Big East Tournament semifinal win over Seton Hall on Friday night. The senior wing made key plays on both ends off the floor, none bigger than a putback lay-in in the final seconds, which ended up being the deciding bucket in a 55-53 win. He gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game after the Pirates led for more than 30 minutes. He and Jalen Brunson, Villanova’s other first-team all performer, scored the team’s final 19 points. The Wildcats are still in line to be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

After a harrowing beginning to Michigan’s trip to the nation’s capital, it wouldn’t have been shocking if the Wolverines were one-and-dones in the Big Ten Tournament. However, Michigan has strung together consecutive wins in D.C., the most recent being a 74-70 overtime win over top-seeded Purdue in the quarterfinals. D.J. Wilson led with 26 points. CBT’s Rob Dauster has more here.

One of the concerns around Kentucky is how it will play when Malik Monk has an off-night. With Monk being limited to only two points, off 1-of-7 shooting, the rest of the Wildcat backcourt answered the call in an SEC Tournament win over Georgia. Isaiah Briscoe had 20 points, six rebounds and two assists. De’Aaron Fox also looked to be back in rhythm. CBT’s Rob Dauster explains why that’s important for Kentucky’s tournament hopes here.

Vanderbilt may have secured its berth in the NCAA Tournament by defeating No. 17 Florida for the third time this season. The Commodores outscored the Gators 14-4 in overtime to earn a marquee 72-62 victory.

STARRED

Semi Ojeleye, SMU — The American Player of the Year scored 17 of his career-high 36 points in the first half, building SMU a comfortable lead. While Mustangs got a scare from East Carolina, they move on to the AAC semifinals. Ojeleye also added 12 rebounds.

D.J. Wilson, Michigan — Back to wearing their regular uniforms, Michigan landed another victory in the Big Ten Tournament, defeating top-seeded Purdue in overtime to advance to the semifinals. Wilson had 26 points and eight boards, all while keeping All-American Caleb Swanigan in check. He had three blocks, none bigger than a rejection on Carsen Edwards which sent the contest to an extra frame.

Jack Gibbs, Davidson — For the sixth time this season, one of the nation’s leading scorers registered a 30-point game. Gibbs dropped 34 points in a win over top-seeded Dayton. The Wildcats advance to the A-10 Tournament semifinals.

Josh Hart, Villanova — The Big East Player of the Year made several key plays, as mentioned above, in a thrilling victory over Seton Hall. His 19 points and 10 rebounds not only serve as the latest proof that he could be the nation’s best player, but it keeps the Wildcats near the top of the list when the selection committee determines the No. 1 overall seed.

Jayson Tatum, Luke Kennard and Grayson Allen, Duke — The trio combined for 62 points, off 17-of-32 shooting. Harry Giles also had an impactful 15 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing seven boards.

RELATED: Get caught up on all of today’s bubble action

REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Dillon Brooks was saddled with foul trouble, but No. 5 Oregon still held off Cal, 73-65, in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals. Even though Cal was without Jabari Bird, who reportedly suffered a concussion, it bodes well for the Ducks to find a way to win when Brooks isn’t at his best. For Cal, this likely spells N-I-T.
  • No. 11 West Virginia scored only 16 first-half points, but rallied, and held on, in the second half against Kansas State. The Mountaineers won, 51-50, and advance to the Big 12 Tournament title game. K-State may have done enough with a win over Baylor on Thursday, but the Wildcats might have to sweat it out on Sunday.
  • No. 12 SMU, the top seed in the American Athletic Conference Tournament, nearly surrendered a 22-point lead, but held on to an 81-77 win over East Carolina in the quarterfinals. Semi Ojeleye had 36 points in the win.
  • Kyle Washington had 21 points, followed by Jacob Evans’ 20, as No. 15 Cincinnati rolled past Tulsa in the AAC quarterfinals.
  • It got closer than Mike Brey would have liked it to be, No. 22 Notre Dame is going to meet Duke the ACC Tournament title game after defeating No. 16 Florida State, 77-73, in the second semifinal from Brooklyn. Duke won the first meeting, led by a combined 56 points from Tatum, Allen and Kennard.
  • Playing its third game in as many days, fatigue may have caught up on TCU. The Horned Frogs trailed by double digits at half en route to an 84-63 loss to No. 23 Iowa State. Deonte Burton led the way with 22 points.
  • No. 24 Wisconsin defeated Indiana for the third time this season, ending the Hoosiers’ 2016-17 with a 70-60 victory in the Big Ten quarterfinals. The usual suspects led the way for the Badgers with Bronson Koenig scoring a game-high 16 points, followed by Ethan Happ with 14. Nigel Hayes was a rebound-shy of a double-double.
  • A 20-2 second half run propelled Northwestern to a 72-64 win over No. 25 Maryland. The Wildcats went on a 31-0 run in the previous round against Rutgers.

NOTABLE

  • The game of the night may have been in the WAC. In the semifinals, top-seeded CSU Bakersfield needed four overtimes to defeat Utah Valley, 81-80. How will the length of that game impact the Roadrunners in Saturday’s championship game?
  • Middle Tennessee State advanced to the Conference USA title game. The Blue Raiders need one more win, and they won’t have to worry about being left on the cutting room floor by the selection committee. The top seed in the C-USA will play No. 6 Marshall in the championship game.
  • Rhode Island, which sits squarely on the bubble in Pittsburgh, landed an A-10 Tournament quarterfinal win over St. Bonaventure behind 19 points and eight rebounds from Hassan Martin.
  • The top seed in the SWAC, Texas Southern, landed a 62-57 win over Grambling. The Tigers are one win away from their third NCAA Tournament appearance in the past four years.
  • Kevin Hervey scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in UT-Arlington‘s 71-54 win over Coastal Carolina in the Sun Belt quarterfinals. The top-seeded Mavericks boast a win at Saint Mary’s this season. They could be a trendy pick for an upset if they reach the NCAA Tournament.
  • Top-seeded Akron is one step closer to an automatic berth, defeating Ball State, 74-70, in the MAC semifinals. The Zips were led by 19 points apiece from Isaiah Johnson and Antino Jackson.
  • Davidson upset top-seeded Dayton in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals. Jack Gibbs, all all-first team selection, came up big with 34 points. It was the sixth time this year he recorded a 30-point performance. Watch the highlights here.
  • New Orleans had a double-bye in the Southland Conference Tournament. After its first postseason win, the Privateers are halfway to an NCAA Tournament appearance. New Orleans, led by conference player of the year Erik Thomas’ 18 points, downed Sam Houston State by a dozen on Friday night.
  • North Carolina Central is one-win away from the program’s second NCAA Tournament appearance, as Eagles defeated Maryland-Eastern Shore, 77-49, in the MEAC semifinals. NC Central’s average margin of victory in the tournament is 31.5 points.
  • The second Big East Tournament semifinal of the evening, ending like the first: in the final seconds. After Xavier‘s Trevon Bluiett tied the score with a step-back three, Marcus Foster buried a triple with 8.3 seconds left to lead Creighton to Saturday’s title game.
  • Texas Southern and Alcorn State, the two top teams in the SWAC, meet for an automatic bid. Texas Southern won both regular season meetings by a combined seven points.

NCAA steering farther and farther away from harsh penalties

ncaa
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
2 Comments

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

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

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

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
2 Comments

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.