Thursday’s Things To Know: Nebraska moves toward inevitable, Big East middle remains weird, John Beilein becomes internet star

Getty Images

Thursday didn’t produce a ton of interesting basketball, though there were some bubble implications, but there were some significant outcomes, both for on-court and off-court reasons. Here’s what you need to know from the night across the country:


There was hope there for a bit. Maybe misplaced, conceivably a tad bit delusional and perhaps just wishful thinking, but when Nebraska pulled out of its seven-game losing streak with wins over Minnesota and Northwestern, there was at least a glimmer of hope that Tim Miles might be able to salvage this season and possibly extend his tenure in Lincoln.

That belief seems all but extinguished now.

Nebraska lost again, for the third-straight time and 10th in the last 12, in ugly fashion with an 82-53 loss at No. 9 Michigan.

The Cornhuskers just never seemed competitive in the game, and it’s difficult to see that changing down the home stretch of their season with a trip to Michigan State and a home tilt against Iowa on the docket before the Big Ten Tournament. It just felt like the last gasps of the Miles era.

Miles, who talked openly about his job status earlier this month, has gone 112-111 overall and 51-75 in the B1G since taking over the program from Doc Sadler in 2012-13. There’s one NCAA tournament appearance during that time along with a near-miss last year, and Miles’ struggles at Nebraska may underscore the difficulties of that job more than reveal whatever shortcomings he possesses.

The Huskers have just seven tournament appearances in their history and had gone 16 years without one until Miles got them there in 2014. They have never won an NCAA tournament game. There’s fan support and great facilities now, but zero natural recruiting base and no tradition. If Nebraska does move on from Miles, someone will either be enticed with what looks to some as a place with the pieces in place to win big or the big money they could offer, but history suggests this job ends poorly for everyone.

It looks increasingly likely that is coming quickly for Miles.


We know Marquette and Villanova are the Big East’s best teams. After ‘Nova’s win over the Golden Eagles last night, which team of those two is superior is an open question, one that the league will endeavor to answer over the season’s final weeks and then at Madison Square Garden.

There’s no figuring out that conference beyond those two, though.

St. John’s lost at home Thursday to Xavier, 84-73, to leave third place through 10th place in the conference separated by just two games. Four teams have eight losses (St. John’s, Xavier, Seton Hall and Georgetown), two have nine (Creighton and Butler) while two have 10 (Providence and DePaul).

Glass half-full argument here would be that there’s a ton of parity in the conference and its cannibalizing itself, but that seems a charitable interpretation. More likely, it’s just that the league is pretty mediocre.

St. John’s spot in the NCAA tournament looks secure, but a home loss to Xavier isn’t going to do much to improve its or the Big East’s reputation. Though the league is so jumbled, who knows what’s a bad loss or a good win beyond those two teams at the top.

It’s just hard to make much sense of the whole thing.


We already covered the Nebraska/Michigan game above, but the entire idea of this post is that it contains everything you need to know from the night of hoops. And this John Beilein video is absolutely essential and fantastic enough it needs its own section.

It’s beautiful.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK

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

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

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

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

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

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.