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Monday Overreactions: Indiana, Kansas prove basketball is a ‘make or miss’ sport

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Chris Clemons, Campbell

Oh boy, did Chris Clemons have himself a week.

It started on Wednesday, when the Campbell Fighting Camels went into Radford to take on the Highlanders, who sat all alone in first place in the Big South with an undefeated league record and a win at Texas to their name this season. What did Clemson do? He scored a cool 39 points, shooting 11-for-22 from the floor and 8-for-15 from three en route to a 68-67 win.

He capped it off in style as well:

That wasn’t the end of it, either.

On Saturday, Clemons followed up his first 39 point performance of the week with … another 39 point performance, one that took him past college basketball legends like Larry Bird and Tyler Hansbrough on the career scoring list. All told, Clemons finished the week with 78 points in two games, shooting 23-for-43 from the floor and 18-for-33 from three with just four turnovers.

Unreal.

For the sake of humanity, we need to find a way to get Clemons into the NCAA tournament. There isn’t a person on the planet that would not enjoy seeing Clemons go out and try to put a 50-burger on whatever No. 2 seed the Camels would draw in the first round.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Baylor Bears

Can someone please explain to me what in the hell is going on down in Waco?

Let me lay this one out for you. Playing without Jake Lindsey this season, Baylor started out the year with losses to Texas Southern, Stephen F. Austin and a bad Wichita State team before kicking off Big 12 play with two losses in three games that coincided with Scott Drew finding out that he will be without Tristan Clark, who was developing into one of the best big men in the conference, for the rest of the season.

And what has happened?

The Bears have turned around and become the hottest team in the conference. They’ve won six straight games. They are sitting in first place in the league, tied with Kansas State and a half-game in front of both Iowa State and Kansas, as a week that saw them beat Oklahoma by 30 points in Norman and then smoke TCU by 26 points at home.

So what’s the secret?

It might be as simple as this: Makai Mason, who scored 40 in the win over TCU, missed nearly two full seasons with foot injuries at Yale and then sat out the first three games of the season this year. He’s grown into his role and seems to have figured things out, as has Mario Kegler, who missed the first six games of the season and is now being asked to carry more of the load with Clark gone. Throw in freshman Jared Butler, who was supposed to be at Alabama this year, and what you get is a team that featured nine newcomers finally figuring each other out.

(Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)

MONDAY OVERREACTIONS

1. INDIANA FINALLY DECIDED THEY WANTED TO PLAY HARD

It’s hard to believe that the same team that we all watched lose seven straight games, capped by digging a 17-0 hole at home against Michigan and losing at Rutgers, could waltz into East Lansing on College Gameday and beat Michigan State, but that is now a reality that we live in.

The Hoosiers knocked off the Spartans, 79-75, in overtime despite the fact that they played without Juwan Morgan for more than two-thirds of the game; he injured his shoulder diving for a loose ball early on. He was replaced by the bigger, more physical De’Ron Davis, who has 12 points, six boards and four assists in 25 minutes, more than he played in all of January combined. Devonte Green was back from his three-game suspension as well, but that does not tell the whole story of what happened here.

Indiana played like they actually gave a damn. That’s the truth. They worked defensively. They were unselfish on the offensive end of the floor. They got back in transition and slowed down Sparty’s high-powered fast break. They pounded the offensive glass and created second-chances. They were tough, they were competitive and they played like a team with something to prove, which is what we have been waiting to see out of this group for weeks.

The truth is that the Hoosiers are not as talented as many seem to believe. Romeo Langford is a top ten pick and Juwan Morgan is a really good college player, but the rest of the roster is really young and many of them are in over their heads playing at this level, at least right now, anyway. This is not a roster full of blue-chippers that can show up and win games with their talent. They are blue-collar grinders that have to embrace playing that way.

And they did on Saturday.

2. INDIANA’S WIN ALSO PROVES BASKETBALL’S OLD AXIOM: ‘IT’S A MAKE OR MISS SPORT’

Indiana had been the worst three-point shooting team in the Big Ten entering Saturday. They had made just 25 percent of their threes in league play, a major problem for a team that often plays with four primarily perimeter pieces.

On Saturday, the Hoosiers shot 10-for-20 from three. Five players made at least one three, and three hit multiple triples. During one stretch of the second half, the Hoosiers knocked down six straight three-balls. Including overtime, they were 7-for-10 from beyond after halftime. All of that was happening while Michigan State, who entered Saturday shooting 74 percent from the charity stripe, made just 8-of-22 free throws. Nick Ward shot 1-for-9 from the free throw line.

All of these things are connected. Individually, shooting is about confidence. Collectively, shooting can be contagious. And I firmly believe that the toughness and confidence that Indiana played with defensively impacted the way they were making shots no the other end of the floor. None of this happened in a vacuum, and none of it should take away from what the Hoosiers were able to accomplish.

They went into East Lansing and beat a top ten team on national television.

But pretending that their atypical three-point shooting and Michigan State’s lemon booty performance from the foul line didn’t happen would be like putting air in a flat tire while ignoring that there is still a nail in the treads.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

3. WHICH IS WHY I’M NOT WORRIED ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE, OR MICHIGAN

I know that this is supposed to be a column where I overreact to things that happened during a college basketball weekend, but I just can’t do it with these two teams.

Indiana is better than what they were in January, and they decided to play that way for the first time in a month when they visited East Lansing as one team shot the lights out and the other might as well have let the front row of the student section shoot free throws for them.

It happens.

And the same can be said about Michigan’s loss at Iowa. The Wolverines got in early foul trouble, their backups got whooped by Iowa’s big men (shoutout to Luka Garza and Ryan Kreiner, they had themselves a day) and Michigan as a team just did not play well. Iowa did, and they got a 15 point win out of it.

If anything, this is a sign to me of why it is so difficult to make it through a Big Ten regular season without a loss regardless of how good a basketball team is. Michigan had a couple early whistles go against them, they were not playing well to begin with and Iowa — a top 25-30 team in their own right — capitalized by pounding them into submission.

That happens, too.

4. MY OPINION WON’T CHANGE ON KANSAS UNLESS THEY PROVE THIS SHOOTING WASN’T A ONE-DAY THING

Kansas is another team that found themselves on the right side of a make or miss sport.

In a 79-63 win over Texas Tech on Saturday, the Jayhawks shot 13-for-30 from three. Lagerald Vick, Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes all made multiple three-pointers. The only perimeter starter that didn’t hit multiple threes for the Jayhawks was Ochai Agbaji, who was the best shooter of the group entering the day. The Red Raiders are as good as anyone in college hoops at running shooters off of the three-point line, and Kansas made 6-of-8 to start the game and open up a big first half lead.

I wrote a ‘What’s Wrong With Kansas?‘ column last week, and one of the points that I made was their perimeter pieces were not scoring enough. They weren’t taking the pressure off of Dedric Lawson, who had two and three defenders hounding him every time he touched the ball. The best way to force teams to guard Lawson one-on-one — a losing proposition for anyone — is to make them pay by burying threes.

I’ll buy back into Kansas as one of college basketball’s elites this season if they prove that this shooting performance was not a one-day thing.

5. BUFFALO LOSING DOESN’T MATTER

The last thing I want to point out is that Buffalo lost a road game to Bowling Green on Friday night.

Typically, a mid-major losing in league play is the kind of thing that can cost them a shot at the tournament. Bowling Green was tied for first with Buffalo in the MAC entering Friday night. They were playing at home. If we’re going to be capable of understanding that Michigan can take a loss on the road in league play because winning on the road is hard, then we have to do the same for Buffalo.

Ivy League calls off fall sports due to outbreak

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The Ivy League on Wednesday became the first Division I conference to say it will not play sports this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press. The league left open the possibility of moving some seasons to the spring if the outbreak is better controlled by then.

The decision was described to the AP by a person speaking on the condition of anonymity in advance of the official announcement.

Although the coalition of eight academically elite schools does not grant athletic scholarships or compete for an NCAA football championship, the move could have ripple effects throughout the big business of college sports. Football players in the Power Five conferences have already begun workouts for a season that starts on Aug. 29, even as their schools weigh whether to open their campuses to students or continue classes remotely.

The Ivy decision affects not just football but everything before Jan. 1, including soccer, field hockey, volleyball and cross country, as well as the nonconference portion of the basketball season.

Power Five conferences told The Associated Press on Wednesday that they were still considering their options. But it was the Ivy League’s March 10 decision to scuttle its postseason basketball tournament that preceded a cascade of cancellations that eventually enveloped all major college and professional sports.

“What’s happening in other conferences is clearly a reflection of what’s happening nationally and any decisions are made within that context,” said Dr. Chris Kratochvil, the chair of the Big Ten’s infectious disease task force, adding that there is no “hard deadline” for a decision.

“Clearly, regardless of what happens in the fall, sports are coming back eventually,” he said. “So we want to make sure that whenever that time (is) right to return to competition, that we have the infrastructure and the recommendations in place to be able to do so safely for the student-athletes, staff, coaches, fans, students.”

Ivy League schools are spread across seven Northeastern states that, as of mid-July, have seen some success at controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. But most of those states still ban large gatherings; under the Massachusetts reopening plan, Harvard would not be allowed to have fans in the stands until a vaccine is developed.

Harvard has already announced that all classes for both semesters will be held virtually; dorms will be open only to freshmen and seniors. Yale said it would limit its dorms to 60% capacity and said most classes would be conducted remotely. Princeton will also do most of its teaching online, with dorms at half capacity.

Coaches 4 Change: Siena’s Carmen Maciariello spearheads social justice initiative

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Carmen Maciariello found himself in the same place so many of us did in the days after George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis.

Devastated by what he was seeing. Motivated to find a way to use his platform as the head coach at Siena College to enact change. Struggling with how, as he puts it, “a white head coach from privilege at a school in New York,” can have real, honest, open dialogue with his majority-Black roster.

So he picked up the phone. He called Louis Orr, his former college coach and now an assistant coach at Georgetown. He called his closest friends in the coaching business. He called his advisor, Brad Konerman, an entrepreneur who connected him with a couple of talented website designers. By early June, 25 like-minded people from all walks of life were on a zoom call.

“I’ve never been pulled over and feared for my life for not using my blinker,” Maciariello, who is white, told me. “We had those conversations. How are we talking to our teams about that? What are we doing with the police? How can we help our young people navigate through these tough times?”

That’s how Coaches 4 Change was born.

Maciariello has grand plans for the organization. On a zoom call with nearly all of the 43 coaches that have committed to the group to date, he said he wants “to try to change the world. Let’s not think small, we’ve gotta think big with this.” He is not lacking for ambition.

But Maciariello also understands that something like this has to start small and it has to start locally. It’s why he limited the first group of invitees to coaches that are “doing this for the right reasons.”

“I didn’t want to have a donate link and bring in coaches that felt like, ‘I donated money, I did my part supporting it,” he said. “It was about the time commitment and the vision. We have to focus on one thing first.”

That first thing?

Voting.

C4C developed a sleek, interactive website to help educate young people about social injustice and the Black Lives Matter movement, things as basic as the difference between systemic and systematic racism and Jackie Robinson’s impact on sports. But the site also provides users with all of the information necessary to vote in this year’s elections, information on what makes voting so important in a democracy and — most importantly — a tutorial for how a person in every state can register to vote, where their polling stations are and whether or not they are eligible for mail-in voting. Their website also has a ‘Keep Learning‘ page that links to all documentaries, podcasts, audiobooks and literary resources available on all streaming platforms, including content for children.

C4C has partnered with Vote.org with a goal of “100 percent voter registration for all college athletes” regardless of the sport they play, Maciariello said.

Currently, the only coaches involved with C4C are men’s college basketball coaches, but that will change. They are in the process of reaching out to counterparts on the women’s side, and will eventually invite staff members from other sports as well. One of the barriers to entry to become a member will be ensuring that every player on a coach’s team is registered to vote.

Eventually, Maciariello envisions C4C developing community outreach initiatives. He wants the members of C4C to connect with their campus communities and put together voter registration drives for students. He wants to eventually connect with lawmakers and work on changing legislation that helps systemic racism continue to exist.

No one ever said he wasn’t ambitious.

But he knows he has to start somewhere, and that somewhere is this platform.

“I want to engage people in issues,” he said. “Educate them, empower them to change, encourage them to grow and evolve.”

CBT Podcast: Pat Chambers, moving the season up, Running Back Buddy Hield’s 46 points at Kansas

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In the latest edition of the Run It Back podcast, Rob Dauster and Bobby Reagan recap Buddy Hield’s memorable 46-point outburst in a three-overtime loss to Kansas in Phog Allen Fieldhouse in a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 1 back in 2016. The game was unbelievable. Before they dive into the game itself, the boys talk through Pat Chambers’ noose comments to Rasir Bolton and the potential for the college basketball season to get moved up.

Michael Jordan, Roy Williams among UNC greats to condemn systemic racism

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Roy Williams and Michael Jordan joined numerous North Carolina luminaries in condemning systemic racism and voicing support for the Black Lives Matter movement in a video that was released by the school on Monday.

“Systematic racism has to stop now,” Jordan said in the video. “We must take the time to listen and educate our family, our friends, our children on social injustice and racial inequality. Black Lives Matter more now than ever before. We have to get this right, so please take time to educate yourself and improve the lives of many people, many Black people. Thank you.”

James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Tyler Hansbrough, Luke Maye and Sean May were among the former players that appeared in the video.

Williams led by discussing Charlie Scott, who was the first Black scholarship athlete in UNC’s history.

“Some of the greatest to play our game have been Black players, but here we are more than 50 years later and our country is still fighting systemic racism and police brutality against Black men and women,” Williams said. “The North Carolina basketball program, our family, our current and former players believe Black lives matter, and it’s critically important that we don’t just believe it. We must stand together and loudly and clearly demand that we as a country and the world embrace the fundamental human right that Black lives matter.”

Former Penn State guard Rasir Bolton left program after coach Pat Chambers made noose comment

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Former Penn State point guard Rasir Bolton has accused of Pat Chambers of making racially insensitive remarks, including a reference to a noose.

According to Bolton, who tweeted about the incident on Monday morning, midway through his freshman season in 2018-19 with the Nittany Lions, Chambers made a reference to a “noose” about Bolton’s neck.  Bolton described the encounter in an interview with the Undefeated, and said that the phrase was a result of Chambers talking about easing the pressure on his freshman’s shoulders. “I want to loosen the noose that’s around your neck,” Bolton recalled.

Bolton also alleged that after his parents went to the Athletic Director with their concerns about this statement, Chambers told him during an exit interview that he was impressed by how “well-spoken” and “organized” his parents are. Remarks like this are considered racially-insensitive because they are based on the underlying assumption that Black people are not expected to be either organized or articulate.

Chambers, to his credit, admitted his wrong in making the noose comment.

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“I’ve realized the pain my words and ignorance caused Rasir Bolton and his family and I apologize to Rasir and the Bolton family for what I said,” Chambers’ statement read. “I failed to comprehend the experiences of others, and the reference I make was hurtful, insensitive and unacceptable I cannot apologize enough for what I said, and I will carry that forever.”

Bolton left Penn State after his freshman season and transferred to Iowa State. He was given immediately eligibility with the Cyclones after mentioning the noose comment when applying for a waiver. He averaged 14.7 points this past season with Iowa State. He also alleged that after he came to the Penn State athletic department with this claim, they offered him a meeting with a sports psychologist who told him how to “deal with Coach Chambers’ personality type.”