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Saturday’s Things To Know: A recap of all of today’s college hoops action

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PLAYER OF THE DAY: Markus Howard, Marquette

Marquette was a team badly in need of a win entering Saturday’s date with No. 12 Kansas State in Milwaukee.

The Golden Eagles had whiffed on their chance to land a marquee win last week, blowing an 11 point first half lead against No. 2 Kansas, a loss that forced them into a consolation game against Louisville instead of the NIT title game against No. 5 Tennessee. They had lost by 23 points at Indiana. Their best win of the year to date was a three point overtime win against a Louisville team that is profiling as a borderline top 25 team.

With the Big East looking like it is going to be a hodge-podge of mediocrity this year, the Golden Eagles need everything they can get out of their non-conference slate, and they got a big win on Saturday, beating No. 12 Kansas State, 83-71.

And the hero was exactly who you would expect it to be.

Markus Howard, the all-american.

He went for 45 points on just 17 shots on Saturday, going 11-for-17 from the floor, 4-for-10 from three and 19-for-21 from the line. The rest of his team combined for 38 points on just 27 shots and 15 free throws.

We’ve seen Howard have explosions like this before, and part of the reason that Marquette is a team that I’ve been bullish on since the preseason is that when he gets on a role like he did today, Howard can carry Marquette to a win over literally anyone. Kansas State has one of the best on-ball defenders in the country in Barry Brown, and he got cooked.

It’s hard to top all of that.

TEAM OF THE DAY: Gonzaga

The Bulldogs went into Omaha on Saturday as the No. 1 team in the country and quickly realized why we always talk about how the CHI Health Center is one of the most difficult places to play in America.

The Bluejays got on an early role, with Ty-Shon Alexander and Mitch Ballock burying some threes and Davion Mintz dunking on the entire frontline of the Zags, and with all 18,000 people in the building going absolutely bonkers, the Zags slowly but surely cut away at what was at one point an 11 point lead. By the time it was all said and done, the Zags had a 103-92 road win that will carry some weight come Selection Sunday.

And perhaps the best part of this for head coach Mark Few was that the Zags didn’t simply rely on one guy going nuts. Yes, Zach Norvell Jr. caught fire in the second half (22 of his 28 points), but Gonzaga wouldn’t have been in firing range if it wasn’t for the play of Brandon Clarke (27 points, 10 boards, two steals, two blocks), Rui Hachimura (22 points, 11 boards, three assists, three steals) and Josh Perksins (13 points and 13 assists).

Just an all-around solid win.

ONIONS OF THE DAY: Lagerald Vick, Kansas

Vick has been the most important player this season for Kansas. He bailed them out against Vermont and Louisiana, shooting 15-for-20 from three in those two games, scoring an average of 32.5 points and helping the Jayhawks avoid bad home losses in the process.

On Saturday, he did the same thing against Stanford, hitting the game-tying three to force overtime and then lighting up the Cardinal with the first eight points of the extra frame:

We wrote about Vick last week. Bill Self ran him out of the program. He declared for the draft with the intention of signing with an agent before he realized the NBA wasn’t in his future and returned to school, only without the same number or any guarantee of playing time.

SATURDAY’S BIGGEST WINNERS

MARQUETTE: We touched on it above, but Marquette landed a win that they really, really needed to get. Playing in a league where the best team is a Villanova that is not the same Villanova that we’ve known for the last half-decade, the Golden Eagles needed to do some work in the non-conference to ensure that A) they get into the tournament, and B) they get into the tournament with a seed that allows them a chance to make a run.

Thanks to that 45 point outburst from Howard, they now have one of those wins. Combine that with a win over Louisville and, potentially, wins against Wisconsin and Buffalo, and that would be a solid start to a tournament resume.

LOUISVILLE: The Cardinals picked up a pretty nice road win over Seton Hall on Saturday, coming back from an early double-digit deficit to pick up a 70-65 win in Newark. This comes of the heels of Chris Mack’s ballclub knocking off No. 9 Michigan State in Louisville on Wednesday night. The Cards are putting together a pretty solid non-conference resume. They’ll have a couple more chances to add to it, with games against Indiana and Kentucky remaining.

SAINT LOUIS: The Atlantic 10 desperately needed someone to start picking up some wins, and the Billikens have been doing so. They won at Seton Hall in November, and on Saturday they added to that with a win over Butler at home. They still get Southern Illinois, Oregon State, Houston and Florida State during non-conference play. That probably won’t be enough to get them an at-large bid given just how bad the rest of their league has been, but it could be enough to get them to a good seed should they earn the league’s automatic bid.

MICHIGAN: The No. 7 Wolverines capped off a wonderful week with a beatdown of No. 19 Purdue on Saturday. The final score was 76-57, but the game never really felt that close. Carsen Edwards finished with 19 points, but the preseason All-American never really felt like he was a threat to do all that much.

More importantly, as we discussed after Wednesday night’s win over North Carolina, was that Michigan was a juggernaut offensively once again. They scored 76 points on 62 possessions, shooting 13-for-26 from three after going 11-for-22 from deep against UNC. This is fun with small sample sizes, but in the last two games, Michigan went from outside the top 25- in three point percentage to 77th.

NEVADA: The Wolf Pack were down by by seven late in the first half at USC. They were up by 16 eight minutes into the second half. This team is talented, explosive and mature enough to not get flustered when they are down early. The problem? Next Friday’s date with Arizona State is the last time they’ll play a game that is actually relevant.

SATURDAY’S BIGGEST LOSERS

STANFORD: The Cardinal had a chance to turn their season around. They had played terrific for 39 minutes and 45 seconds in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, and held a 75-72 lead on the Jayhawks, the No. 2 team in the country. That’s the kind of win that can immediately vault a team into the NCAA tournament discussion and, at this point, it’s almost the kind of win that a borderline team from the Pac-12 needs to get an at-large bid.

Alas, Stanford decided not to foul up three, Lagerald Vick tied the game and the rest is history. Oh well.

CREIGHTON: Like Stanford, Creighton really missed on a chance to land a marquee win. When you play that well against the No. 1 team in the country, it’s not pleasant to lose out in the end, and while I hesitate to credit the Bluejays with a moral victory — who the hell wants one of those? — we did get a glimpse of just how dangerous this group can be. They’re young and talented, and this was, at the very least, a nice little learning experience.

MEMPHIS: The Tigers were up by nine at the half and led by double-digits in the second half against No. 20 Texas Tech. The Red Raiders scored 50 second half points and won by double-figures. Penny is going to be fine in the long run, but there are going to be some growing pains this season.

FINAL THOUGHT

I have never in my life seen a bigger mismatch than watching No. 3 Duke go up against 1-7 Stetson.

The Hatters were a constant stream of turnovers that led to a never-ending series of fast break dunks for Duke. At one point during the second half, Duke led 87-29. I don’t even want to mention the final score here. There’s no need to rub salt in the wound.

And I guess what my biggest question here is ‘Why?’ Why did Duke play this game? I understand why it would make some sense for Stetson to play it. How often do you get to play in a building like Cameron Indoor Stadium? How often do you get to play after three future top five picks? There’s literally no downside — the worst-case scenario is they leave with a game check and the beatdown that everyone expected, while there is always that possibility of that miracle win. That is, after all, why people play the Powerball.

But I don’t understand why this is the game that Duke would schedule.

Quite literally the only thing they are going to get out of it is a chance to play some of their bench guys major minutes in an actual game. I guess there is something to letting Alex O’Connell go out there and show out, but at the same time, with 13 minutes left and Duke up 56 points, Zion Williamson checked back into the game.

Stetson is one of the worst programs in the sport. They were 338th in KenPom entering today. They were 318th in KenPom last season. They have finished inside the top 300 in KenPom just once in Corey Williams’ six-year tenure. Nothing about this result will surprise anyone.

So what’s the point of playing it?

NCAA reverses ruling on Silvio De Sousa, clears him for 2019-20 season

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Silvio De Sousa’s appeal has been approved.

On Friday afternoon, the NCAA announced that they will be reversing their original decision, allowing the Kansas center to be eligible to play during the 2019-20 season. He was suspended for the entirety of the 2018-19 season.

“Kansas appealed the NCAA staff decision of a two-season withholding to the Division I Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee, which determined additional relief was appropriate,” the NCAA said in a statement.

This decision came just hours after De Sousa’s final appeal formal appeal and not a moment too soon; Wednesday marks the final day that players that have declared for the NBA draft can withdraw and return to school. It is unlikely that De Sousa would get drafted should he be forced to leave his name in the draft.

The NCAA originally determined in February that De Sousa would have to sit out the remainder of the 2018-19 season and the entire 2019-20 season after allegations arose that his guardian, Fenny Falmagne, had accepted at least $20,000 in order to steer De Sousa to Kansas. These allegations arose as a result of the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball.

De Sousa was a freshman during the 2017-18 season, averaging 4.0 points and 3.7 boards as Kansas made a run to the Final Four. He will join Udoka Azubuike and David McCormick in the Jayhawks oversized frontline.

NCAA president Mark Emmert made $2.9 million in 2017

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Mark Emmert holds the top job of a major organization. It oversees thousands of people and generates billions in revenue. It’s not surprising the guy makes a lot of money.

It always just looks silly, though, as Emmert is the president of the NCAA, which does not allow its athletes compensation beyond the scholarships schools give them. So, we’ll take a minute to highlight that silliness here.

Emmert, who has led the NCAA since 2010, made $2.9 million in net compensation in 2017, USA TODAY reports after examining the organization’s tax filing.

The 66-year-old was credited with $3.9 million in total compensation, but $1 million of a deferred $1.4 million payment had been reported in prior years, according to USA TODAY.

Three other NCAA executives cleared $1 million in salary in 2017.

Again, given the scope, size and profitability of college sports, it’s not surprising that Emmert and his execs are well compensated, but it’s always worth pointing out that finances in college athletics – from administrative and coaching salaries to facilities to travel – are all inflated because athletes are prohibited from taking part in the profit-taking.

With news coming that athletes could be in line to profit off their name and likeness sometime in the near future and the NBA signaling the end of the one-and-done era, there is progress in player compensation, but during that time, there are a lot of checks getting cashed without players’ names on them.

Seven returning collegians among Team USA U19 invites

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USA Basketball is welcoming seven sophomores among its 34 total invitees to training camp next month ahead of the FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece.

Incoming freshmen and Class of 2020 will vie for 12 roster spots with Kansas State coach Bruce Weber helming the team and being assisted by Washington’s Mike Hopkins and North Carolina Central’s LaVelle Moton.

The returning college players garnering invites are Kessler Edwards (Pepperdine), Tyrse Haliburton (Iowa State), Kira Lewis (Alabama), Isaac Likekele (Oklahoma State), Trevion Williams (Purdue) and Bryce Willis (Stanford), along with Jayden Scrubb from the junior college ranks.

“The committee is excited at the level of talent that will be at training camp for the USA U19 World Cup team, and we expect to have a difficult decision trying to narrow down the group to 12 team members,” Matt Painter, Purdue coach and cahr of the junior national team committee, said in a statement.

R.J. Hampton, Samuell Williamson, Scottie Barnes and Jalen Suggs are some of the headliners from the group of players without college experience.

Sophomores

Kessler Edwards (Pepperdine/Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.)

Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State/Oshkosh, Wis.)

Kira Lewis Jr. (Alabama/Meridianville, Ala.)

Isaac Likekele (Oklahoma State/Mansfield, Texas)

Jayden Scrubb (John A. Logan College/Louisville, Ky.)

Trevion Williams (Purdue/Chicago, Ill.)

Bryce Wills (Stanford/White Plains, N.Y.).

Incoming freshmen

Eric Dixon (Abington H.S./William Grove, Pa.)

Dajuan Gordon (Curie H.S./Chicago, Ill.)

R.J. Hampton (Little Elm H.S./Little Elm, Texas)

Justin Moore(DeMatha Catholic H.S./Accokeek, Md.)

Casey Morsell (St. John’s College H.S./Washington, D.C.)

Zeke Nnaji (Hopkins H.S./Hopkins, Minn.)

Isaac Okoro (McEachern H.S./Powder Springs, Ga.)

Onyeka Okongwu (Chino Hills H.S./Chino, Calif.)

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (IMG Academy, FL/Overland Park, Kan.)

Isaiah Stewart (La Lumiere School, IN/Rochester, N.Y.)

Anton Watson (Gonzaga Prep/Spokane, Wash.)

Mark Watts Jr. (SPIRE Institute/Pontiac, Mich.)

Romeo Weems (New Haven H.S./Chesterfield, Mich.)

Samuell Williamson (Rockwall H.S./Rockwall, Texas).

Class of 2020

Scottie Barnes (University School/West Palm Beach, Fla.)

Nimari Burnett (Prolific Prep, Calif./Chicago, Ill.)

Joshua Christopher (Mayfair H.S./Lakewood, Calif.)

Sharife Cooper (McEachern H.S./Powder Springs, Ga.)

Cade Cunningham (Montverde Academy, Fla./Arlington, Texas)

Hunter Dickinson (DeMatha Catholic H.S., Md./Alexandria, Va.)

Jalen Green(Prolific Prep/Fresno, Calif.)

Walker Kessler (Woodward Academy/Newnan, Ga.)

Caleb Love (Christian Brothers College H.S./St. Louis, Mo.)

Evan Mobley (Rancho Christian School/Temecula, Calif.)

Ethan Morton (Butler H.S./Butler, Pa.)

Jalen Suggs (Minnehaha Academy/Minneapolis, Minn.)

Ziaire Williams (Notre Dame H.S./Sherman Oaks, Calif.).

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey: Transferring players need ‘deterrent’

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The NCAA is granting too many waivers allowing players who transfer to compete immediately, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said Wednesday, calling the requirement that players sit out a year a useful “deterrent” to players switching schools.

Brey made his comments at a meeting of the Knight Commission, a nonprofit that pushes for reform in college sports. While the commission has not taken a position on transfer waivers, it often advocates for players being given more freedom to pursue their professional ambitions.

“As coaches we’re concerned about the number of waivers, to the point where the NCAA has given too much of a blueprint on how to get a waiver,” Brey said. “Kids feel they can go and, you know, bring up enough of a case to get eligible right away. So they’re more apt to want to go.”

In April 2018, the NCAA relaxed its waiver requirements, allowing a transferring player to suit up immediately if there are “documented mitigating circumstances that are outside the student-athlete’s control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete.”

During the 2018-19 academic year, 79 men’s basketball players requested waivers and 44 were granted, a 56% success rate, according to NCAA data. Men’s basketball accounted for 33% of all waiver requests, the NCAA said.

Commission co-chairman Arne Duncan, the former U.S. Secretary of Education, declined to comment on waivers but lauded the “transparency” of the NCAA’s transfer portal, in which players submit their names if they want to switch schools.

Brey said he believes players should be free to transfer and that it’s up to coaches to make their players want to stay, but he said sitting out a year can be beneficial and prevents players from transferring for immature or capricious reasons.

“It’s a bit of a deterrent for a kid. The year in residency saves kids from themselves sometimes,” Brey said. “I’ve seen some kids then come back, stick it out, and now they’re in the lineup and they come back five years later and go, ‘I was an idiot.’ Because every kid thinks about (transferring) when he’s not playing.”

ROADBLOCKS TO REFORM

Brey’s comments were one of a few examples from Wednesday’s meeting of the basketball establishment pushing back against reforms that would give players more autonomy or promote transparency about the way schools profit from college athletics.

The Knight Commission is pushing the NCAA to release to the public the financial details of contracts between athletic departments and shoe and apparel companies, a proposal that has not gained much traction. In the past, the commission has persuaded the NCAA to release graduation rates and other financial data, including compensation for coaches.

“The shoe companies, there has to be agreement across the board, that there has to be willingness and openness to share all those records. Candidly, I think more work needs to be done,” said Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president for Division I governance. “We don’t control all the third parties and their ability to cooperate with us. More conversation needs to continue to occur within the NCAA and between the NCAA and the third parties if we want to move the ball.”

Two NBA executives told the commission the league is in talks with the players’ union about lowering the NBA’s minimum age to 18, prompted largely by a recommendation by the Commission on College Basketball to rid the sport of the “one-and-done rule.”

But even that proposal is meeting some resistance in the NBA. David Krichavsky, the league’s senior vice president and head of youth basketball development, said some in the league would rather raise the age limit than lower it.

“Many teams and general managers would still be in favor of going to 20, given the additional scouting information you receive on players, seeing them compete at the NCAA level for two years after high school,” Krichavsky said, “but at the same time we recognize that the world has changed and will continue to change.”

COACHES BEHAVING BADLY

Brey, the president of the board of directors of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, said he’d like to see coaches reach a consensus about how to police their own behavior.

An ongoing federal investigation into illicit payments made to players during the recruiting process led Louisville to fire longtime coach Rick Pitino, but some other coaches implicated in the probe have held onto their jobs. Brey said schools ought to move more aggressively to fire coaches for cause when they violate NCAA rules.

“We all have clauses in our contracts about NCAA rules and behavior, all of us. If those are violated, doesn’t that start on the campuses?” Brey said. “And no question the NABC could make a stronger stand. We have not maybe been as vocal about some of the things that have gone on.”

Report: NCAA will give more notices of allegations soon

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Now that the FBI’s college basketball corruption cases are complete, the NCAA will likely move forward with more notices of allegations.

Speaking to ESPN’s Heather Dinich on Wednesday at the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, NCAA vice president of Division I Governance Kevin Lennon said that more investigations could come “in due time and I think  very quickly.”

The NCAA needed to wait for the FBI’s trials to finish up before launching its own investigations on schools mentioned over the past 18 months. We could see a high number of big-name programs get investigated during the NCAA’s process.

“You don’t get in the way of a federal investigation,” Lennon said Wednesday. “Activity was going on during that span that was within our purview, but now that the court cases are done, now we’re in a position where you’re likely to see notices of allegations going to institutions that have violated NCAA rules, etc. I think you can anticipate notices of allegations will be coming.”

Following the completion of the first FBI trial in October 2018, the NCAA already reportedly sent notice of allegations to Arizona, Kansas, NC State and Louisville. Other prominent programs, including but not limited to, Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma State and USC have also been mentioned during recent college basketball corruption trials.

While the NCAA will seek all documents that schools turned over to the federal government during legal procedures, the real difficulty in the NCAA’s investigations will be getting third-party participants to speak — or even cooperate in the first place. Those not tied to the NCAA through member schools have no legal obligation to help the NCAA during their investigation process.

Wednesday’s Knight Commission meeting also went over processes discussed or implemented because of the Rice Commission’s April 2018 report. Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey, president of the board of directors for the NABC, made waves by questioning where accountability comes from when it comes to coaching penalties.

Asking why “there’s been no hammer from the top of campus,” Brey asked why schools haven’t been accountable with coaches who break the rules.

“Why hasn’t an athletic director or a president acted in some of these current cases?” Brey said.

“I think a lot of our coaches want to know why hasn’t the hammer come down? I’m a little naïve to it. Is it legal stuff? A lot of lawyers? I think our profession would love to see the hammer be dropped on some of these situations. We need an explosion back.”

Brey has every right to question where penalties are coming from since only Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has lost his job among head coaches during this scandal. There seems to be a lot of confusion on where some things stand with the NCAA, and its rules, but maybe we’ll get more clarification now that the FBI trials are done.