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The NCAA whiffed when suspending Peter Jurkin and Hanner Perea

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In case you haven’t heard about it yet — I mean, you should have, because there wasn’t anything else important going on in the news last night, was there? — Indiana has had two of their incoming freshmen suspended by the NCAA for the first nine games of the season.

Peter Jurkin and Hanner Mosquera-Perea won’t be allowed to suit up for the Hoosiers until a Dec. 15th game against Butler, and Jurkin must repay $250 and Perea $1,588.69 to a charity of their choosing. It’s a pretty stiff punishment, and it all stems from $185 that was spent more than two decades ago.

Mark Adams was the AAU coach for both players and, at one point, had attempted to become Perea’s legal guardian. The nature of their relationship would have allowed Adams to legally, in the eyes of the NCAA, spend the almost-$15,000 on things like lap tops, cell phones, meals and housing that make up the illegal benefits the NCAA has busted Jurkin and Perea with. But between 1986 and 1992, Adams’ ex-wife donated $185 — never more than $30 at once — in order to get an alumni sticker to put on her car. He’s permanently and forever considered a ‘booster’ for the school.

Seriously.

I’m not kidding.

The ex-wife of an AAU coach cost two players nine games and almost $2,000 in charity payments all for $185 that was spent on stickers before they were even born.

And you wonder why no one in their right mind trusts a decision that the NCAA makes.

The common theory being tossed around is that this is the NCAA reaching out and smacking IU for their association with Adams. You see, Adams runs a foundation called A-HOPE — African Hoop Opportunities Providing an Education — that brings players from abroad to the United States to help them get an education and find a place to play college basketball. But, as was exposed in this ESPN investigation last April, there is plenty of smoke and all kinds of rumors floating around basketball circles about Adams’ relationship with IU and whether or not it is too close.

But that theory doesn’t exactly hold water.

If message board fodder is all that it took to get a player suspended, Shabazz Muhammad would never play college basketball. Kyle Anderson wouldn’t, either. Anthony Davis probably would have been one of a handful of Kentucky recruits that went the way of Enes Kanter. Baylor would never get an elite prospect eligible and the Canada-Findlay Prep-Texas pipeline would have been shut down a long time ago.

Could it simply be that the NCAA was actually able to find some kind of wrongdoing, even if that wrongdoing is one of the most ridiculous, letter-of-the-law interpretations that the NCAA has ever come up with?

“There’s no question they’re contributors in this program right away, but the bigger concern right now is for both Hanner and Peter individually,” Indiana coach Tom Crean told SiriusXM’s Jeff Goodman on Tuesday night. “They don’t really know why this is happening and it’s really hard for us to explain it to them because I don’t really know why this is happening.”

Well, it’s simple, Tom. The NCAA doesn’t like your affiliation with Adams or A-HOPE, and they wanted to send a message about it. Since they couldn’t find anything illegal about the recruitment of the players, they are dropping the hammer on a technicality. They are trying to make a statement.

And they did. The irony, however, is that the ‘statement’ the NCAA made has more to do with the inept, archaic rules we’ve all come to know and abhor than with the two Hoosier freshmen.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Conference Preview: OVC adds Belmont, seeks multiple tournament bids

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Top 25, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

The 2012-2013 season could be the Ohio Valley Conference’s finest hour. With the mid-major landscape in a state of flux, this could be the season that the OVC legitimizes itself as a basketball conference. The conference features a first team All-American, two 2012 NCAA tournament appearances, a future-Hall of Fame coach, and anywhere from two to six future-NBA players. A lot of things have to go right, but there’s a definite possibility the OVC sends at least two teams to the NCAA Tournament.

With the addition of Belmont, the OVC has split up into and East and West divisions. The Bruins enter the season as the prohibitive favorites to win the East division. Head coach Rick Byrd has compiled a 545-284 record in his 26 years at Belmont, and brings his squad into the OVC for the first time looking to do what they do almost every year, which is make the NCAA tournament. The Bruins joined the OVC because a) it made more geographical sense and b) the competition is better, plus they might actually tout the best back-court in the OVC, made up of Kerron Johnson and Ian Clark. Tennessee State returns four starters from the 2011-2012 that handed Murray State  it’s first and only loss of the regular season and will compete with Belmont for the top spot.  They are led by sharpshooting wing Robert Covington, arguably the conference’s best scorer not named Isaiah Canaan. Tennessee Tech has to replace Kevin Murphy, who was drafted by the Utah Jazz, but second year head coach Steve Payne returns forward Jud Dillard, a first team All-Conference selection last season. The Owls have talent and experience, two items essential in making a late season run.  Morehead State doesn’t have Kenny Faried anymore, but they have first year head coach Sean Woods, who did great things at Mississippi Valley State. The Eagles won’t be a title contender, but they will be a very difficult-out.

Murray State is the conference’s “golden goose”,  and the favorite to come out of the West division, led by first team All-American guard Isaiah Canaan. The senior guard torched the competition en route to the nation’s longest undefeated streak (23-0) and an conference record for wins (31-2). The question is, can he do it again? The Racers graduated three  significant pieces and lost another (Zay Jackson) to a season-ending suspension. If Ed Daniel and Latreze Mushatt can elevate their games, Isaiah Canaan is a special type of player. The west division is Murray State’s for the taking, but Southeast Missouri  has improved tremendously under third year head coach Dickey Nutt, and put up a very tough fight on both occasions against Murray State last season.  The Redhawks return All-OVC players in junior forward Tyler Stone and senior guard Marland Smith.

While Murray State and Belmont are the only two teams with real, legitimate at-large potential, there are at least three teams that have the talent needed to win the OVC Tournament. There’s a real possibility that the OVC has three representatives come March Madness time.

Take the time now to mark down your schedules for March 6-9 in Nashville, because the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament may end up being the most exciting three days of the college hoops season.

Don’t be shocked to see three OVC representatives in the Big dance.

All-Conference Team (* denotes Player of the Year)
G Isaiah Canaan (Murray State)*
F Robert Covington (Tennessee State)
G Jud Dillard (Tennessee Tech)
G Kerron Johnson (Belmont)
F Tyler Stone (Southeast Missouri)

Predicted Standings
East
1. Belmont
2. Tennessee State
3. Tennessee Tech
4. Morehead State
5. Eastern Kentucky
6. Jacksonville State

West
1. Murray State
2. Southeast Missouri
3. Austin Peay
4. SIU-Edwardsville
5. Eastern Illinois
6. UT-Martin

Top 25 Countdown: No. 20 North Carolina Tar Heels

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Top 25, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Last Season: 32-6, 15-3 ACC (1st); Lost to Kansas in the Elite 8

Head Coach: Roy Williams

Key Losses: Kendall Marshall, Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson

Newcomers: Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Joel James, JP Tokoto, Luke Davis

Projected Lineup:

G: Marcus Paige, Fr.
G: Dexter Strickland, Sr.
G: Reggie Bullock, Jr.
F: Brice Johnson, Fr.
C: James Michael McAdoo, So.
Bench: Leslie McDonald, Jr.; PJ Hairston, So.; JP Tokoto, Fr.; Joel James, Fr.; Desmond Hubert, So.

Outlook: Roy Williams has been here before.

After he won the national title in 2005, Williams watched Ray Felton, Sean May, Rashad McCants and Marvin Williams all make their way to the NBA, leaving him with an unproven and youthful roster to work with the following year. That team, led by freshman All-American Tyler Hansbrough, had some ups-and-downs that first season, but eventually grew into a national champion four years later. That 2009 title team lost quite a bit of talent as well, with Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson and Danny Green joining Hansbrough in the NBA.

Williams didn’t win a national title in 2012, but that wasn’t due to a lack of talent on his roster. Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Kendall Marshall are all making seven figures this season as first round NBA Draft picks, meaning that, once again, the Tar Heels are going to be heading into a season having to reload.

While there is some talent on this roster, including a potential lottery pick in sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo, there are a couple of question marks as well, the biggest being the smallest guy on the roster — Marcus Paige.

Paige, a freshman from Iowa, is the heir-apparent to Marshall at the point guard spot. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again quite a few times before the season starts, but I believe that Marshall is one of the two most difficult players to replace this season (the other being Anthony Davis, for obvious reasons). North Carolina’s system thrives on point guard play, and what made Marshall so valuable wasn’t only his unreal playmaking ability (he averaged almost 10 assists per game) but how good he was at hitting ahead in transition. He made the Heels’ fast break just that much more deadly, and there’s certainly no questioning how much better he made his teammates — specifically Barnes — simply by being on the floor. Remember what UNC looked like before he took over for Larry Drew in 2010-2011? Remember what they looked like when he was injured in last season’s tournament?

The bottom-line is this: that role is going to fall into the hands of a freshman — a talented one, but still a freshman — who will be backed up by a transfer from Gardner-Webb, Luke Davis, and a senior combo-guard, Dexter Strickland, coming off of a torn ACL. With so much youth and inexperience on this roster, how Paige handles the pressure at the point could end up making or breaking North Carolina’s season.

The good news is that Paige will have plenty of perimeter talent surrounding him. Strickland, a senior that doubles as UNC’s best perimeter defender, should be back to 100% by the time the season starts. Leslie McDonald should be as well; he tore his ACL before last season even began. One of the more interesting subplots of UNC’s season will be seeing how Williams divvies up minutes on the wings. Strickland and McDonald are the vets that have earned their playing time, but both PJ Hairston — a sophomore — and Reggie Bullock — a junior — are bigger and more talented scorers, and that’s before JP Tokoto, a talented freshman, is factored into the equation.

McAdoo will be UNC’s anchor up front. A top ten recruit coming out of high school, McAdoo spent much of last season watching Zeller and Henson from the bench. He averaged just 6.1 points and 3.9 boards in less than 16 minutes as a freshman, but some impressive play during the postseason — McAdoo averaged 10.6 points and 4.8 boards in the final seven games after Henson hurt his wrist, including a 15 point performance against Kansas and Thomas Robinson in the Elite 8 — combined with his size, strength and athleticism has many predicting McAdoo to become an all-american candidate.

The question is who joins him up front? Will it be athletic-but-slender freshman Brice Johnson? Will it be burly freshman Joel James? Or seldom-used sophomore Desmond Hubert? Will Williams be willing to use a four-guard attack given the size of Bullock, Tokoto and Hairston?

Predictions?: UNC unquestionably has talent on their roster, as always. But there are also question marks. How good is Paige? How good is McAdoo? What happens in the front court? Who makes the leap from role player to secondary scorer? The Heels will still make the tournament and should finish in the top three in the ACC — and they could be even better than that — but given the youth, the inexperience and all the new faces in new roles, this is a tough group to project.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

John Calipari doesn’t anticipate eligibility problems for Nerlens Noel

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On Monday afternoon, the Boston Herald broke the news that Nerlens Noel — the top recruit in the Class of 2012 and Anthony Davis’ heir apparent to the title of No. 1 draft pick — was taking two summer school classes in an effort to become eligible for the 2012-2013 season.

Noel, who is John Calipari’s prized-recruit this season, is apparently taking the classes to try and boost his GPA. With the NCAA looking into his academic background, it makes sense that Noel would want all of his t’s cross and i’s dotted.

And, according to Coach Cal, that is all this is:

Calipari said the highly-touted Kentucky freshmen class was in attendance (Alex Poythress,Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley) at the workouts Monday except for the top center in the class and a projected top two pick in 2013 in Nerlens Noel.

“He’s not here,” Calipari said. “Since he reclassified he had to do a few more academic things and he’s finishing school. We only have one summer session (to work the team out).”

Calipari said he doesn’t anticipate any eligibility problems for Noel to start the season.

Cal’s confident, which is probably a better sign than if he were to say that they needed to start preparing for the season as if they weren’t going to have Noel. But Cal was also confident that he’d have Enes Kanter eligible. Confidence doesn’t necessarily translate to eligibility.

We may be waiting for awhile for an official word on this one.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Projecting how Butler and VCU will fare in the A-10

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VCU, along with Butler, is headed off to the Atlantic 10 next season.

One of the most intriguing story lines heading into the year is whether or not two of the nation’s best mid-major programs — the last two mid-majors to make the Final Four, when they squared off in 2011 — will be able to handle the transition to a stronger conference.

As VCU Ram Nation determined, Shaka Smart’s boys shouldn’t have an issue:

VCU has gone 15-5 over the past 10 seasons against current A-10 teams, but grabbed the majority of their Ws against cross-town rival Richmond, notching eight of those 15 victories against the Spiders.

The Rams dominated at home but went just 5-3 in true road games during that span. However, one of those victories included a CBI Championship at St. Louis in 2010.

I urge you to go through and look at the research that Mat Shelton and company did, because it is good stuff. It also got me interested in how Butler fared over that same time frame against the current A-10 schools. The answer? 4-4 (scroll to the bottom for the full breakdown).

Four of those games came against Xavier in the past four season, a series that Butler split despite losing the last two games. While the Final Four battle with VCU is clearly the most important game, the most exciting came back in 2009-2010, when Xavier lost to Butler on a buzzer-beating layup from Gordon Hayward. The game ended in controversy, however. The clock stopped in the final seconds, meaning that instead of Xavier having 1.2 seconds to try and win the game, the referees blew the whistle and ended it.

Here is the full breakdown of games:

2011-2012 (0-1)
Xavier 73, BUTLER 61

2010-2011 (1-1)
XAVIER 51, Butler 49
Butler 70, VCU 62 (Final Four)

2009-2010 (1-0)
BUTLER 69, Xavier 68

2008-2009 (1-0)
Butler 74, XAVIER 65

2004-2005 (0-1)
Richmond 69, BUTLER 68

2003-2004 (0-1)
ST. LOUIS 72, Butler 54

2002-2003 (1-0)
BUTLER 68, St. Louis 46

Who will Steve Lavin choose to replace Mike Dunlap at St. John’s?

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The St. John’s staff has welcomed the positives that come along with sending a coach to the NBA, but there now comes the less glamorous side of the departure: realizing his importance and finding a replacement.

For his two seasons in Queens, Dunlap was Lavin’s in-game tactician, spending much of the 2011-12 season filling in for him as head coach, while Lavin recovered from prostate surgery.

From an X’s-and-O’s standpoint, Dunlap was one of the best in the country at the college level and, with assistant Tony Chiles, who is the Red Storm’s recruiting go-to man, and Rico Hines, who can recruit and develop talent, it would seem likely that St. John’s would look for another Dunlap-type coach to fill his spot.

Jon Rothstein of CBS and Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv have compiled a list of possible candidates, categorized below.

The Former Players

Lavin could bring someone with ties to his former employer, UCLA, to fill the gap, which, according to Zagoria could Gerald Madkins. Madkins has served in the New Orleans Hornets’ front office and as a college assistant.

He could also go with Earl Watson, one of his former players at UCLA, who, as a recruiter, could pitch Lavin’s ability to move players to the NBA. Watson, 33, played for the Utah Jazz last season.

The TV Analysts

Rothstein and Zagoria both mention Paul Biancardi, the former Wright State coach who now works as a national recruiting analyst for ESPN. He could, again, work well as a recruiter, as he has connections at the grassroots and high school level.

Tim O’Toole is also mentioned. O’Toole served as Fairfield’s head coach from 1998-2006 and is now a college basketball analyst for ESPN.

Other Names

Barry Rohrssen, Former Manhattan coach

Tom Abatemarco, Colorado assistant coach

Frank Allocco, De La Salle head coach

Jim Boylen, Indiana Pacers assistant; former Utah head coach

Tim Grgurich, Former NBA assistant coach

Darrick Martin, Former UCLA and NBA player

Lane Odom, Former college assistant

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_