Three Things To Know: Stanford is good, Virginia Tech is better, big night for the Atlantic 10

Darryl Oumi/Getty Images
1 Comment

It was looking like college basketball was going to have a relatively quiet night even with the start of the Maui Invitational, but that plan was shot to hell thanks to Virginia Tech and Mike Young.

Here is everything you need to know from the night in college basketball.

1. VIRGINIA TECH RUINED OUR SHOT AT A TOP FIVE MAUI TITLE GAME

No. 3 Michigan State is not playing well right now. I think that much is very clear, and we’ll have something coming on Michigan State in the near future.

But that’s not what we are talking about right now.

Because as flawed as Michigan State is at the moment, they are still one of the best teams in the sport and Virginia Tech went out and beat them in a pretty convincing matter. Yes, the final score was 71-66 and no, this was not a blowout win by any stretch of the imagination.

My point is that this wasn’t a fluky loss. Virginia Tech is a good team that is exceptionally well-coached, executes and, on Monday night, played about as well as they can. Landers Nolley put on a show. When Virginia Tech needed a bucket down the stretch it was Nolley that they went to, and he delivered, beating Aaron Henry on back-to-back possessions for a floater and a three that kept the Spartans at bay.

Wabissa Bede played well. So did P.J. Horne. The thing that I like about this team more than anything else is that they understand what they are and what they are not. They are a team with a ton of shooting that can space the floor and make opposing defenses uncomfortable with the sets that they run. They are a team that has enough good individual defenders to be tough enough on that end of the floor to execute a game-plan. They are not a group that will let you get them playing at a pace they aren’t comfortable with, and they are not a team that is going to beat themselves.

I did not expect much from this team this season. I don’t think anyone did. But after this win in Maui, the Hokies are sitting at 6-0 on the season.

Credit where it is deserved: Mike Young has done a terrific job to date.

Now if he only could have held off on this breakout until after we saw No. 3 Michigan State and No. 4 Kansas play for the Maui title.

2. DAYTON AND RICHMOND SHOW OUT FOR THE ATLANTIC 10

We knew that the Atlantic 10 was going to be better this season than it has been in the past, and Monday night certainly did not change that feeling.

The win that everyone is going to be talking about tomorrow was Dayton knocking off Georgia and potential No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards. That’s because it came in the first game of the Maui Invitational and featured another potential first round pick in Obi Toppin popping off for 25 points and four boards on national television in a game every college basketball fan was locked in on.

But the team that might have actually landed a more impressive win was Richmond.

Now, it was not that long ago that Richmond fans were protesting the fact that head coach Chris Mooney had not been fired yet. I think they are going to come to regret that, because on Monday night, the Spiders went into the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and knocked off Wisconsin, 62-52. Blake Francis had 19 points and six assists to lead the way while Grant Golden chipped in with 16 points and 12 boards.

The Spiders now have a date with Auburn on Tuesday night, and it was these Auburn Tigers and lit the soul of Davidson on fire earlier this month.

I still think VCU is probably the best team in the Atlantic 10 – they have yet to do something to convince me otherwise – but Dayton has proven themselves to be damn good, and Richmond is not all that far behind.

It may not be exactly the teams we expected, but it turns out the A-10 is pretty top heavy after all.

3. STANFORD MIGHT BE FOR REAL

I’ll be honest. I did not expect anything out of Stanford this season. That might end up being a mistake. The Cardinal improved to 7-0 on the season by beating previously undefeated Oklahoma by 19 points, 73-54, in the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City on Monday night.

Tyrell Terry led the way with 20 points and 11 boards for Stanford. A 6-foot-1 freshman from Minneapolis, Terry has been awesome Jeron Haase to date, averaging 15.2 pints, 4.2 boards and 3.3 assists. His addition has allowed Haase to play small-ball and move Daejon Davis to an off-guard spot.

The Sooners get Butler tomorrow night. That will be a nice test for both teams.

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.

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.