Men's College Basketball
NCAAB News Wire
  • Thursday, October 23, 2014
    Arizona easy choice as Pac-12 basketball favorite
    By The Sports Xchange

    Picking the preseason No. 1 in Pac-12 basketball is easy.

    • Predicting which teams come next is mostly a roll of the dice.

      Arizona was the runaway winner of the media poll at Pac-12 Media Day in San Francisco on Thursday, picking up 31 of the 32 first-place votes. The other first-place nod went to UCLA, prompting Pac-12 Networks analyst Kevin O'Neill to quip on air that the voter "was drunk that day."

      Utah edged Colorado for second place in the balloting. UCLA was fourth, followed by Stanford and Washington.

      Arizona is loaded.

      The Wildcats return senior point guard T.J. McConnell, junior shooting guard Gabe York, junior center Kaleb Tarczewski, junior forward Brandon Ashley and sophomore wing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Add in five eligible newcomers, notably freshman wing Stanley Johnson -- arguably the best player to come out of famed Southern California powerhouse Mater Dei -- and coach Sean Miller's primary concern appears to be keeping everybody happy in what he says will be a balanced approach.

      "We're at that point now where, as we start to define roles, it's important that guys stay within the framework of that role, embrace it and do the very best they can," Miller said.

      Arizona, which reached the NCAA Tournament West regional final last season, is No. 2 in the national preseason coaches poll and is No. 1 in multiple publications, including the Sporting News. No other Pac-12 team will start the season in the coaches' Top 25.

      Arizona State coach Herb Sendek called Arizona the "clear-cut" leader but noted the competitive depth in the league. Last season, one game separated third place from ninth place.

      "As for the rest of the league, you could probably put everybody in a hat, shake it up, and have just as good a chance at predicting the order of finish as we are able to do sitting here today," Sendek said.

      "We all know at the end not only will the league standings be close ... but beyond that, the games are going to come down to the final possession. So how anybody short of Nostradamus could sit here today and predict like there really is a difference between ninth and 10th or eighth and ninth just is unreasonable."

      Utah appears poised for a breakthrough after finishing 9-9 in the league a season ago. The Utes return every key player, including senior guard Delon Wright, arguably the best player in the Pac-12. He averaged 15.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting 56.1 percent from the field in his first season out of junior college.

      "He's a classic definition of a stat-sheet stuffer," said Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak.

      "People talked about needing to be stronger. He's gotten stronger and put on weight. Shooting ability, I have no question in my mind that he's going to be consistent from the perimeter. Finally, the most important thing is his ability to now be a leader."

      Colorado returns everybody of importance, minus departed point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who missed the last half of last season anyway because of a knee injury. The Buffs will be led by senior guard Askia Booker, junior forward Xavier Johnson and junior forward Josh Scott. Coach Tad Boyle added freshman guard Dominique Collier, who turned down offers from Arizona and Kansas.

      "What I love about our team is we have good versatility," Boyle said. "We have a lot of guys that can guard a lot of positions, play multiple positions. We have good basketball players that have good basketball instincts."

      UCLA lost NBA first-rounders Zach LaVine, Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson from a team that went 28-9 and reached the Sweet 16 in Steve Alford's first season as the Bruins coach. He'll turn to son Bryce, a sophomore point guard, to emerge from his role as a valuable reserve.

      "Bryce has the ability to lead; he has the ability to make people around him better," Alford said. "He understands ball control, understands what we want to do offensively and defensively. I think he's a guy that the team will look to for leadership, and that's going to be a key for us."

      UCLA and everybody else will be trying to prevent Arizona from winning back-to-back regular-season titles while boosting the Pac-12's mediocre reputation. Cal, Oregon, Arizona State, USC, Washington State and Oregon State rounded out the second half of the media poll.

      "There are a number of teams that are going to be quality this year," said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. "The other teams people don't recognize as much are going to really try to step it up to make sure they match the top-level teams here."


      --Washington State's Ernie Kent is one of three new coaches in the league, although he's not exactly new, having coached Oregon from 1997 to 2010. Most recently, he worked as an analyst with the Pac-12 Networks. "I feel like a big bear that's been in hibernation," Kent said, "and now it's time to come out and eat."

      Kent added about his return to the court: "I'm just amazed at what it's done for me in terms of your energy, your spirit. It means so much to be able to step away from this game and see it from a different angle because you come back refreshed, rejuvenated, but with a different approach to how you would coach the game."

      --Coach Wayne Tinkle takes over at Oregon State for Craig Robinson, who drew a lot of attention for being the brother of First Lady Michelle Obama. While on the main interview stage Thursday, Tinkle was jokingly asked by a media member, "Coach, what does your brother-in-law do?"

      --That question to Tinkle stood as the funniest until the very last one. The mother of Arizona forward Brandon Ashley (whose family lives in the Bay Area), got the mike and asked her son, "Are you taking your vitamins?"

      --The Colorado-Utah road trip looms as the toughest in the Pac-12. Buffs coach Tad Boyle said the one-two punch especially will benefit the home team on the second game of the week. "We play at altitude, which makes it hard to begin with," he said. "If they played Utah, hopefully Utah has taken some of their legs, beat them up a little bit. Hopefully, we can reciprocate and take something out of those teams on the first game of a two-game leg."

  • Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    SEC media day: Can others catch up to Kentucky, Florida?
    By The Sports Xchange

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Florida and Kentucky are both coming off Final Four seasons.

    • The two heavyweights are expected to contend for a Southeastern Conference title again this season. The question remains: Can the rest of the league close the gap in talent and performance?

      "I believe that you will see five or six teams from the SEC in the NCAA Tournament this season," first-year Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.

      Last year, the SEC only qualified three teams for the NCAA Tournament, with all three having success. In addition to Florida's run to the Final Four and Kentucky's ascent to the NCAA title game, Tennessee reached the Sweet 16.

      Kentucky, with three starters returning from its national championship team, was picked to finish first in the SEC in the preseason media poll. And for good reason.

      Kentucky returns 12 players (including walk-ons) from a team that went 29-11 overall and 12-6 in SEC play. The current roster includes nine former McDonald's All-Americans.

      For Kentucky, the preseason No. 1 team in USA Today poll, the season will be about managing expectations.

      "We can't really listen to it," said Kentucky sophomore guard Aaron Harrison, who was named SEC preseason player of the year. "We just have to go out there and play. And no matter what anyone says about us or how good they think our team is, we don't really know how good we are."

      But Kentucky was able to get a sneak peak of its talent level during a 10-day trip to the Bahamas in August that included scrimmages against professional teams.

      Calipari said he intends to play two five-man units during the course of the season in an effort to utilize all of the talent on the roster.

      "These kids have bought in," Calipari said. "They're fine. These kids are all within five percent of each other. When we go in and practice, there are no blowouts."

      Florida went 36-3 last season, winning a school-record 30 straight games before losing to Connecticut in the Final Four.

      The Gators, picked to finish second in the SEC in this year's preseason media poll, were the first team in SEC history to finish an 18-game regular-season schedule unbeaten and went on to win the SEC Tournament.

      Florida coach Billy Donovan is concerned that the success from last season could create unrealistic expectations for his returning players that are stepping into new roles to replace four former senior starters.

      "I've been coaching a long time and I've never been a part of a team that won 30 straight games and went 125 straight days without losing a game," Donovan said. "It's so far removed from reality and I have to help them stay in reality."

      The Gators' lone starter returning, junior guard Michael Frazier II, was named to the All-SEC first team. Frazier shot an SEC-best 44.7 percent from 3-point range last season.

      The Gators also return SEC sixth man of the year Dorian Finney-Smith, a 6-8 forward, and McDonald's All-American sophomores Kasey Hill, a 6-1 guard, and Chris Walker, a 6-10 forward-center.

      Hill will likely start at point guard and Walker in the frontcourt.

      "We can learn from last year's team," Frazier said. "But we can't duplicate it."

      --- New Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said he's grateful for a second chance in coaching after leading Tennessee to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances before being fired in 2011 because of NCAA recruiting violations. His three-year show cause from the NCAA expired in August.

      "I'm accountable for what I did, but I'm really proud of our record," Pearl said. "And I'm not talking wins or losses. I would put our record for graduating student-athletes, for service in the community, up against anyone. So it's really not about any redemption in that regard."

      On the court, Pearl hinted that he could play as many as four guards at the same time with the addition of Niagara transfer guard Antoine Mason, who led Division I in scoring last season at 25.6 points per game.

      --- Georgia coach Mark Fox said expectations should be higher for the Bulldogs this season.

      The Bulldogs were picked to finish fifth in the SEC in the preseason media poll.

      Georgia returns three starters from a team that finished 20-14 and 12-6 in the SEC.

      "People are not looking past us," Fox said. "I think they know we had a solid team last year and we should be solid again, but in this league, you better be able to saddle up because there are no off nights."

      --- First-year Missouri coach Kim Anderson thought his window had closed for a chance at a major Division I job, but the 59-year-old former Missouri assistant under Norm Stewart was hired from Division II Central Missouri after Frank Haith left during the offseason for Tulsa.

      "The timing was right; maybe a longing to get back to how things were 15 years ago," Anderson said. "I understand that Division II coaches don't get opportunities like this. I hope we have success and I can represent them well."

  • Wednesday, October 22, 2014
    Big East media day: Wojo's new world
    By The Sports Xchange

    NEW YORK – The first time Marquette guard Matt Carlino saw Steve Wojciechowski was on television – not playing, but conducting a halftime interview as a coach.

    • "I was a little young to see him play, but he always did the halftime interview for Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) at Duke," said Carlino at BIG EAST Media Day at Madison Square Garden.

      Wojciechowski, who starred in the backcourt at Duke before serving 15 years as an assistant to Krzyzewski, was named Marquette's head coach in April, replacing Buzz Williams, who moved to Virginia Tech.

      "The transition is going well," admitted Wojciechowski. "Being around Coach K taught me the importance of relationships with your players and people around the program, the value of preparation for your team and to do everything with a passion.

      "Those are the three things I think about every day."

      The 38-year-old Wojciechowski inherits a program that missed the post-season in 2013-14 for the first time in 13 seasons. The Golden Eagles start the season without a player over 6-6, as they await 6-11 Luke Fischer, a transfer from Indiana, to become eligible.

      "We don't have great size, so we're going to try to do some things defensively to use that to our advantage," said Wojciechowski. "I think our guys are competitors. They're used to working. I think we'll be good defensively, and then will figure out what the best kind of offense to play is."

      Marquette, picked to finish eighth in the conference by the head coaches, will benefit from Carlino, a transfer from BYU who is eligible immediately. He should provide a boost to a perimeter offense that was lacking last season.

      "It's been great learning from him," Carlino said of his new coach. "Communication has been the key and I'm learning the fundamentals of defense from him."

      The real change could begin next season. Wojciechowski's initial recruiting class is rated by many as one of the five best in the nation.

      DePaul looking to get back on track

      Despite finishing last in the Big East every season since it joined in 2010-11 and getting picked last in the pre-season poll, DePaul coach Oliver Purnell remains optimistic about this seasons Blue Demons.

      Sophomore guard Billy Garrett, Jr., the 2014 conference Rookie of the Year, headlines a cast that returns nine players from a 12-21 squad that was plagued with off-court distraction. Purnell's team lost a combined 33 points a game with the departures of Cleveland Melvin (left school in February) and Brandon Young (graduation).

      Purnell recruited three juco transfers (guards Aaron Simpson and Derrick Wood and forward Rashaun Stimage) who he hopes will take some of the scoring burden from Garrett.

      "I like this group," said Purnell. "I think if we continue to grow and work hard we have a chance to compete very well in the Big East. "Any time you don't have things you can count on is hard. Now we can grow.

      "A big thing for us this year is to believe and trust each other. I commend a lot of these guys who hung in there last year and played some really good basketball at the end of the season."

      A Bluejay flies away

      Creighton coach Greg McDermott starts the rebuilding process after his son Doug, the National Player of the Year, was drafted by the Chicago Bulls this summer. The younger McDermott and three other starters are gone from the conferences second place team.

      But Greg McDermott is prepared to move on with guard Austin Chatman, the sole returning starter, and the best fan base in the conference. In June, Creighton opened its Championship Center, a $13 million practice facility with a weight room, offices and training facility.

      "I coached 20 years before I coached Doug," said his dad, "and I plan to coach a long time after. Obviously it was a blessing to coach your son for four years, especially as we transitioned to the Big East.

      "To watch his (Doug's) experiences and the team's experiences was unbelievable as a father. But this group has worked extremely hard. They knew their time was coming. They are going to have to blaze their own trail."

      Greg McDermott believes the expectations are high, at least internally. The Bluejays were picked ninth in the pre-season poll.

      "I've never paid attention to polls, good or bad," he said. "We just went over 15,000 season tickets for the second straight season. So there is excitement for basketball in Omaha. It's our responsibility to put a good product on the floor and that's what we intend to do."

      NOTES: With four starters returning from last year's team that won the Big East regular season, Villanova was chosen to win this season's title by a vote of the head coaches. The Wildcats received all nine possible first-place votes. Georgetown was second, followed by St. John's, Xavier, Providence, Seton Hall, Butler, Marquette, Creighton and DePaul. … Georgetown G D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera was chosen as the 2014-15 Big East Preseason Player of the Year by a vote of the league's head coaches. Smith-Rivera is the sixth Georgetown player in conference history to earn the award. … Seton Hall freshman G Isaiah Whitehead was named the BIG EAST Pre-season Rookie of the Year. Whitehead, a 6-4 guard, was a 2014 McDonald's All-American at Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, N.Y. where he was named Mr. Basketball in New York. … The DePaul women were selected to win the conference after advancing to the Sweet 16 last season. The Lady Blue Demons return four starters from their 29-7 team last year. … Creighton junior G Marissa Janning claimed the conference's Player of the Year for the second straight season.

  • Tuesday, October 21, 2014
    N.Y. court reinstates slander case vs. Boeheim
    By The Sports Xchange

    Former Syracuse ball boys Bobby Davis and Mike Lang have a "reasonable view" that they were slandered by head coach Jim Boeheim in 2011 when the longtime coach called the boys liars and accused them of chasing money.

    • Boeheim made the comments when accusations that Boeheim's top assistant coach, Bernie Fine, had molested the boys when they were children.

      Fine did not face criminal charges because of the state statute of limitations.

      Davis and Lang, who are stepbrothers, appealed the Oct. 2013 state appellate division dismissal of the slander case. At the time, their attorney, Marian Wang, told the Syracuse Post-Standard that Boeheim should be held accountable.

      "When victims of childhood sexual abuse at last have the courage to come forward and speak about their suffering and experience, those in positions of power with access to the facts must speak responsibly and carefully, not recklessly," Wang said. "They should not attack the victims."

  • Friday, October 17, 2014
    Syracuse to go before NCAA infractions committee
    By The Sports Xchange

    Syracuse officials will meet with the NCAA's Committee on Infractions later this month as part of an inquiry into the athletic department, according to reports.

    • Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim and athletic director Daryl Gross both refused to comment to the Syracuse Post-Standard on whether they would be present at the hearing. reported in March 2013 that the NCAA was investigating the men's basketball program over major and wide-ranging violations.

      One of the alleged violations involves the academic record of former Orange player Fab Melo. The 7-foot center played for Syracuse from 2010 to 2012.

      Boeheim mentioned in his new book, "Bleeding Orange," that the school is currently part of an NCAA investigation

      In the book, Boeheim also addressed Melo's situation: "We suspended him for three games. After that, we were under the impression that he could appeal and do some academic work to get himself eligible. He did that work.

      "But then there arose a question about how he had gotten eligible, and he was declared ineligible again, right before the NCAA Tournament. The issue is extremely complicated, and at any rate I can't really go into it because it is part of an ongoing NCAA investigation."

      It's unclear whether the NCAA investigation extends beyond the basketball program at Syracuse.

  • Thursday, October 16, 2014
    College roundup: Kentucky preseason No. 1, again
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Kentucky Wildcats are in familiar territory.

    • For the second consecutive season, the Wildcats sit atop the first preseason USA TODAY Coaches Poll, which was released Thursday.

      Kentucky garnered 24 of the 32 first-place votes. No. 2 Arizona earned three, No. 3 Duke received two first-place votes and No. 4 Wisconsin received No. 1 consideration with three votes.

      Kansas, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Louisville and Texas rounded out the top 10.

      Kentucky was voted preseason No. 1 last year based on an influx of high school All-Americans. The team jelled midseason and caught fire on its way to the national championship game where the Connecticut Huskies beat the Wildcats, 60-54.

      Head coach John Calipari welcomes back most of that team. Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison will be joined by another group of highly sought recruits including centers Karl Towns and Trey Lyles.

      --Wisconsin might be a unanimous pick to win the Big Ten basketball title but other usual suspects can't be overlooked.

      The Badgers, who reached the Final Four in Dallas but lost to Kentucky in a thriller last season, were the top choice in a poll released Thursday at Big Ten media day.

      Michigan State, the 2014 Big Ten tournament champion, and Ohio State were second and third, respectively, in Thursday's media survey.

  • Thursday, October 16, 2014
    Badgers top Big Ten pick, but usual suspects loom
    By The Sports Xchange

    ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Wisconsin may be a unanimous pick to win the Big Ten basketball title but other usual suspects can't be overlooked.

    • The Badgers, who reached the Final Four in Dallas but lost to Kentucky in a thriller, were the top choice in a poll released Thursday at Big Ten media day.

      Michigan State, the 2014 Big Ten tournament champion, and Ohio State were second and third, respectively, in Thursday's media survey.

      But Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan shrugs off the attention while his players focus on the here and now.

      "Most of (them) played in high schools where their teams were targeted, where their teams were marked," Ryan said. "So I think they're kind of used to that kind of attention to where it doesn't affect how hard they know they need to work."

      Returning senior Frank Kaminsky was named preseason player of the year. He was also a unanimous preseason All-Big Ten pick. Junior forward Sam Dekker also landed on the first team.

      Wisconsin went 30-8 last season and the Badgers were knocked out of the Big Ten tournament in semifinal play. They regrouped in the NCAA Tournament and reached the Final Four before a one-point loss to Kentucky.

      Wisconsin's lone loss from that team was point guard Ben Brust, who owns the all-time 3-point record at the school.

      "He stretched the defenses, he was a great rebounder for his size," Ryan said. "Nobody for his size rebounded the way he did. He gave us some dimensions that might be a little difficult to replace, but we've got some guys that are trying to do that right now."

      Seven of Wisconsin's top eight scorers from last season are back. Other top returnees included backcourt duo of seniors Josh Gasser and Traevon Jackson and Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year Nigel Hayes.

      Around the Big Ten

      --The Iowa Hawkeyes suffered a late-season collapse with seven losses in their last eight games in 2013-14, closing 9-9 (sixth) in league play.

      Scoring leader Roy Devyn Marble (17 points) departed for the NBA but Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery eyes better outcomes this time with a group led by senior forward Aaron White, the team's No. 2 scorer (12.8 points) and top rebounder.

      "Well, the leadership and talent, obviously it shifts to Aaron White," McCaffery said. "It's Aaron White's team. But again, he's got two other seniors and four juniors all of whom played a lot, and they're all good people and they're all good players."

      Iowa, with three starters back from an NCAA Tournament team, will also be deep with seven upperclassmen with major minutes last year and 10 letter winners.

      White leads the league among active rebounders with 653 and is the top returnee in field goal percentage (.584 percent).

      There's more than basketball on McCaffrey's mind these days as his 14-year-old son, Patrick, continues to recover from surgery and treatment for thyroid cancer.

      "We were very fortunate when we found it," said McCaffery said on Thursday. "That's the important thing no matter what age you are. The treatment's going well."

      McCaffery lost both parents to cancer and is active in Coaches vs. Cancer fundraising.

      --The Golden Gophers hope to take another step forward after a National Invitation Tournament championship in head coach Richard Pitino's debut season at Minnesota.

      Minnesota and Big Ten honorable mention guard Andre Hollins (13.6 points) are projected in the middle of the Big Ten pack to start the new season.

      "The difference between this year and last year is our newcomers fit the way that we want to play a lot more so than maybe last year, and I think that will help with our defense," Pitino said. "It'll help with our press, all those little things that we're trying to do when building kind of the brand that we want to play."

      First up for Pitino is a matchup against his dad, Louisville's Rick Pitino. The coaches chat freely about their teams but phone calls will grow more guarded as a Nov. 14 clash in Puerto Rico nears, the second all-time meeting between father and son.

      "It's weird because we're so invested in each other's programs," said Richard Pitino on Thursday. "We talk daily and we're both kind of waiting to start hiding information from each other. I see it coming. I'm glad we're playing early. We can play, we can move on and start rooting for each other again."

      Pitino, Sr. claimed a 79-55 victory in 2012 when his son coached at Florida International.

      --Michigan State, the reigning Big Ten tournament champions (29-9), welcome back starters Branden Dawson and Denzel Valentine from a team that reached the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight last season.

      Add sixth man Travis Trice as the new starting point guard and the Spartans have the makings of another top conference contender.

      "I kind of like this team," said Spartans coach Tom Izzo, entering his 20th season. "I think it's a team with the same kind of passion we had last year, the same kind of camaraderie, but a little better leadership. Last year it wasn't a strength of our team. It wasn't necessarily a weakness, but we didn't have quite the leadership that I think we have with Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine."

      The Spartans were picked second behind Wisconsin in a preseason media survey.

      --Last year's Big Ten regular season champ has a first-team preseason pick in Caris LeVert but Michigan was not voted among the top three teams in a Big Ten preseason poll released on Thursday.

      LeVert averaged 12.9 points and 4.3 rebounds last year for a 28-9 team.

      "You never know, but he was in it a bit last year," Michigan coach John Beilein said. "There were games when we went to him because people were doing things with Nik (Stauskas), with Glenn (Robinson III), with Jordan Morgan. So we just went with him. I love his personality because he doesn't let things bother him much. So I don't think he gets too excited or too worried about these situations."

      Michigan picked up 10 extra practice days thanks to an offseason trip to Italy, offering new players some valuable time.

      "You have a better evaluation of your team, and now your preseason practices should be more on point than they normally would be because we have information that we wouldn't have until two or three weeks into the season," Beilein said.

      --Penn State is no longer the Big Ten's lone eastern outpost.

      The addition of Maryland and Rutgers creates the makings of an East Coast rivalry for the formerly Midwest-based conference.

      "It's great for recruiting, it's great for the current players because their families know that they cannot only come to Penn State, but now they can go up 95 and go to Rutgers and down 95 and go to Maryland," Nittany Lions coach Patrick Chambers said. "I think it's a win-win. A lot of people thought that we were in the Midwest."

      Penn State finished 6-12 and tied for 10th with Northwestern in last year's regular season standings.

      Guard D.J. Newbill, a second-team All-Big Ten pick, is back after finishing second in league scoring with a 17.1-point average. Forward Ross Travis brings in a 7.0-rebound average, fourth in the league last year.

      "I have a good mixture of veterans and youth," Chambers said. "I'm seeing that in practice. Obviously very good leader in D.J. Newbill (and) Ross Travis is coming along terrific helping him in his leadership. … They've taken ownership of this team, and I'm noticing things in the locker room, in practice, in the weight room."

  • Thursday, October 16, 2014
    Kentucky Wildcats earn top spot in preseason poll
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Kentucky Wildcats are in familiar territory.

    • For the second consecutive season, the Wildcats sit atop the first preseason USA TODAY Coaches Poll, which was released Thursday.

      Kentucky garnered 24 of the 32 first-place votes. No. 2 Arizona earned three, No. 3 Duke received two first-place votes and No. 4 Wisconsin received No. 1 consideration with three votes.

      Kansas, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Louisville and Texas round

      out the top 10.

      Kentucky was voted preseason No. 1 last year based on an influx of high school All-Americans. The team jelled midseason and caught fire on its way to the national championship game where the Connecticut Huskies beat the Wildcats, 60-54.

      Head coach John Calipari welcomes back most of that team. Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison will be joined by another group of highly sought recruits, including centers Karl Towns and Trey Lyles.

      "I never expected my guys to return like they did," Calipari told USA TODAY. "I've never had to coach this way, playing so many guys. It's the only way to do it right so these kids get the chance they deserve. But there's a real challenge here. They have to become great teammates. Can they share? Can they sacrifice? Can they handle adversity together?"

      The Wildcats open their season on Nov.14 against Grand Canyon.

  • Friday, October 10, 2014
    Cornhuskers lose freshman F Day for season
    By The Sports Xchange

    Nebraska's basketball suffered another season-ending loss this week when 6-foot-5 freshman small forward B.J. Day suffered a torn ACL in his left knee.

    • The Cornhuskers already have senior Leslee Smith for the entire season after he suffered a knee injury during the summer.

      "It is difficult because B.J. has worked hard in the offseason to get ready for the start of practice," Nebraska head coach Tim Miles said in a statement. "We look forward to him beginning his rehab, and our goal is to have him ready for the start of next season."

      Day, who is from Lincoln, will apply for a medical redshirt.

  • Thursday, October 9, 2014
    MSU's Izzo has successful hernia surgery
    By The Sports Xchange

    You can't keep a good coach down for long.

    • Michigan State men's basketball coach Tom Izzo is expected to be back in the office by the weekend after undergoing hernia surgery Wednesday morning.

      The surgery was a success, the school said. Dr. Troy Ferguson at McLaren Greater Lansing performed the surgery.

      The Spartans kick off their season on Nov. 14 against Navy in Annapolis, Md.

  • Thursday, October 9, 2014
    Marquette gets pledge from top 10 recruit
    By The Sports Xchange

    Coach Steve Wojciechowski and Marquette landed another star prospect on Thursday, when Henry Ellenson chose the Golden Eagles over Kentucky and Michigan State.

    • Ellenson is listed as a five-star recruit and in the top 10 for multiple recuiting sites.

      Shooting guard Haanif Cheatham, center Matt Heldt and point guard Nick Noskowiak are four-star recruits who are helping push Marquette's 2015 class toward top 10 and even top-5 consideration.

      Ellenson, a 6-10 forward with shooting skills and the ability to pass from the high post, can play inside or hold his own from the perimeter. He joins his older brother, Minnesota transfer Wally Ellenson, at Marquette.

      "I felt Marquette was a place where I could make an immediate impact," Henry Ellenson said. "I feel that I will have an opportunity to play multiple positions and show my versatility. Also, I was the most comfortable with the coaching staff, and a chance to play with my brother was something that was always big to me."

  • Sunday, October 5, 2014
    Two Ducks charged in shoplifting
    By The Sports Xchange

    More problems continue to dog the Oregon Ducks basketball program.

    • Multiple sources reported that Jalil Abdul-Bassit and Elgin Cook were cited last month and charged with shoplifting at a grocery store right across the street from Matthew Knight Arena.

      The Register-Guard first reported that Abdul-Bassit and Cook were caught with stolen goods on Sept. 12.

      Cook and Abdul-Bassist were both cited in lieu of custody for theft in the third degree, a Class C misdemeanor where the stolen property is less than $100, and given a date to appear in court, the Portland Oregonian reported.

      Oregon head coach Dana Altman said he was aware of the incident the day it happened and the two players have been disciplined.

      "We are disappointed with these two young men," Altman said. "We expect our student-athletes to conduct themselves as solid members of this community and team. Both were being disciplined internally."

      The two arrests come months after the Oregon program saw three players kicked off the team following sexual assault accusations.

  • Friday, October 3, 2014
    Kentucky combine to air on national TV
    By The Sports Xchange

    Kentucky's preseason combine for NBA scouts will be televised by ESPNU, the school announced Friday.

    • The network will air part of the event staged next Friday afternoon in Lexington, Ky., for talent evaluators -- and the cable-viewing public.

      Last month, coach John Calipari said he decided to hold a combine for scouts this year rather than have individual teams come through Lexington throughout the season to size up potential the Wildcats' NBA draft picks.

      There's certainly no shortage of talent at Kentucky. Capitari has sent 19 players to the NBA since 2010 and his teams have reached the final Four in three of the past five years.

      "All 30 teams would have been at my first week of practice anyway," Calipari told "This gives us a chance to control it a bit and get on with our business. Let's say one of the kids doesn't show well. OK, it's early in the season. It gives us and the NBA a base to start with.

      "Our players will know without anyone saying anything where they are. For me, I'll be able to talk to all these teams and tell me where I need to take each individual guy. The NBA will give me the information I need from the horse's mouth. I don't see the downside to doing this."

      Karl Towns, Dakari Johnson, Wille Cauley-Stein and Andrew Harrison are potential first-round picks in 2015. Aaron Harrison and Alex Poythress also are expected to be drafted.

      Kentucky opens its regular season at home on Nov. 14 against Grand Canyon.

  • Thursday, October 2, 2014
    Miller takes leave as Butler coach
    By The Sports Xchange

    Two days before the start of practice for the 2014-15 season, Butler coach Brandon Miller was granted a leave of absence for medical reasons, the school announced Thursday.

    • Assistant Chris Holtmann will take over as interim coach. It was not known when Miller might return to the job or the nature of his medical issues.

      "Brandon Miller has requested a leave of absence for medical reasons, which the university has granted," Butler athletic director Barry Collier said. "We are not in a position to further elaborate and we ask that everyone respect Brandon's privacy."

      Butler begins practice on Saturday. The regular season opens Nov. 15 against Maine. The Bulldogs are scheduled to face North Carolina in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 26 in the Bahamas.

      The 35-year-old Miller took over as coach last season when Brad Stevens left for the Boston Celtics. The Bulldogs finished 14-17 overall and 4-14 in the Big East in Miller's first year.

      Holtmann came to Butler a year ago after coaching Gardner-Webb to a school-record 21 wins the previous season.

  • Wednesday, September 17, 2014
    Missouri suspends Gant, Allen
    By The Sports Xchange

    Missouri suspended freshmen Jakeenan Gant and D'Angelo Allen following their arrests over the weekend on suspicion of third-degree assault for allegedly jumping three men near campus.

    • Missouri coach Kim Anderson suspended both players from all team activities.

      "We have high standards for the conduct of our student-athletes and expect much more from them as members of our program," Anderson said Tuesday night.

      Allen and Gant were arrested after officers responded at 1:34 a.m. Sunday in the area on the edge of Missouri's campus. According to a police report obtained by the Columbia Daily Tribune, three men were "jumped" by three to four men on a city street.

      Gant, a 6-foot-8 forward from Springfield, Ga., was the Tigers' top recruit when he signed last November. Allen is a 6-7 forward from Dallas.

  • Tuesday, September 16, 2014
    Charleston settles with ousted coach
    By The Sports Xchange

    The College of Charleston reached a $400,000 settlement with fired men's basketball coach Doug Wojcik.

    • The 50-year-old Wojcik was dismissed last month after allegations of verbal abuse with players, assistant coaches and staff members surfaced. The school's investigation that resulted in a 50-page report included interviews with Wojcik, current and former players, staff members and athletic director Joe Hull.

      College of Charleston hired Earl Grant, a former assistant coach at Wichita State and Clemson, to replace Wojcik two weeks ago.

      The settlement, which is the equivalent of one year's salary, will be paid to Wojcik with $150,000 in funds from the university and the remainder from the state's Insurance Reserve Fund.

      "The matter has been resolved and it's good for everyone involved that we've come to a resolution," Wojcik's attorney, Eric Bland, said.

      Wojcik had three years left on a contract that would have paid him about $1.2 million. He had coached at the school for two seasons after leaving Tulsa.

      College of Charleston reached the Southern Conference tournament final in Wojcik's first season in 2012-13 but slid to 14-18 last season in its first year as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association.

  • Friday, September 12, 2014
    Elite UCLA recruit ruled ineligible
    By The Sports Xchange

    The NCAA on Friday ruled that UCLA freshman Jonah Bolden, an Australian native, is academically ineligible and will not be allowed to play in games this season.

    • UCLA said the NCAA ruled Bolden a partial qualifier, which allows him to remain on scholarship and practice with the team. The decision is final and there is no appeal process.

      The 6-foot-9 power forward is part of an elite recruiting class assembled by coach Steve Alford.

      According to sources, the NCAA issued its ruling because Bolden left Australia after his senior season had already begun to attend a Las Vegas prep school, and then finished his high school in New Hampshire, ESPN reported.

      UCLA was in need of reinforcements after last season's 28-9 campaign. The Bruins lost three of their top four scorers to the NBA Draft, Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine.

  • Friday, September 12, 2014
    Texas suspends G Walker after assault charge
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Texas Longhorns suspended sophomore guard Martez Walker indefinitely following his arrest on a misdemeanor assault charge, head coach Rick Barnes announced Friday.

    • On Wednesday night, a woman who stated to authorities that she was Walker's girlfriend was transported to an Austin-area hospital for treatment after being assaulted in a campus dorm room.

      "We are aware of the situation with Martez and he is cooperating with campus police officials," Barnes said in a statement. "We have consistently stressed to all of our student-athletes for a long time that any behavior in which women are not treated with respect will not be tolerated.

      "Pending resolution, Martez has been suspended indefinitely from our basketball program and will not participate in any team functions."

      The 6-foot-4 Walker, a native of Detroit, played just under 13 minutes per contest and averaged 4.7 points and 2.3 rebounds as a freshman last season.

      The Austin American-Statesman reported that, according to University of Texas police, the school was notified by Emergency Medical Services at 10:18 p.m. Wednesday that someone had been assaulted in the San Jacinto dorm. Upon arrival, EMS found a female UT student had sustained injuries and was transported to the hospital.

      Walker turned himself into Travis County officials around midnight Friday, according to the newspaper. Court officials said Walker was released on a personal bond. Bail had been set at $7,500.

      UT president Bill Powers released a statement Friday morning:

      "Physical abuse and violence will not be tolerated at the University of Texas. We take this allegation extremely seriously. Coach Barnes has suspended the player from the team and the university has begun to take appropriate action to ensure the safety of our students, even as the investigation continues."

  • Thursday, September 11, 2014
    Illini lose injured PG Abrams for season
    By The Sports Xchange

    Illinois will be without its starting point guard from last season after senior Tracy Abrams suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during a preseason workout.

    • Abrams was one of three returning starters from the 2013-14 team who were expected to lead the Fighting Illini this season. He averaged 10.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists last season.

      "Tracy worked hard in the offseason to put himself in great position heading into his senior year, so he's obviously disappointed, and we are for him as well," Illinois coach John Groce said. "But Tracy personifies toughness; he has the heart of a champion, and I know that he will only come back stronger from this experience when he returns to the court next year.

      "In the meantime, he will continue to play a vital role for our program with his leadership."

      The 6-foot-2 Abrams will take a medical redshirt and be back for the 2015-16 season. He is awaiting surgery on the knee.

      Expected to take over at point guard this year is Oregon State transfer Ahmad Starks, who averaged 10.4 points and 2.2 assists per game in three seasons with the Beavers.

      The Fighting Illini also have redshirt junior Aaron Cosby, a transfer from Seton Hall, and sophomore Jaylon Tate who can play the point.

  • Tuesday, September 9, 2014
    Kentucky plans combine for NBA scouts
    By The Sports Xchange

    Kentucky coach John Calipari wants to avoid a steady stream of NBA scouts showing up at his practices during the season and so he is setting up a two-day combine in October to showcase the talents of his players, according to a report.

    • The combine, scheduled for Oct. 10-11, would include various drills, measurements and full-court five-on-five games with officials, Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday.

      NBA executives have beaten a path to Lexington, Ky., the past few years to view the vast collection of talented players that Calipari has recruited to Kentucky.

      This year alone, the Wildcats have nine McDonald's All-American on their roster. One of those is 7-foot freshman center Karl-Anthony Towns, ranked among the top three prospects for the 2015 NBA Draft.

      Other top players on this season's roster include Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison and Alex Poythress.

      Calapari also hopes to use the combine as a recruiting tool to keep the steady stream of talent flowing through Lexington, Yahoo reported.

  • Friday, September 5, 2014
    NCAA extends Georgia Tech's probation
    By The Sports Xchange

    A two-year investigation into impermissible telephone calls and text messages has resulted in the NCAA extending Georgia Tech's probation for another two years.

    • The men's and women's basketball teams as well as the football team made hundreds of calls and texts to recruits in 2011 and 2012, an investigation by the school and NCAA reveals.

      In a statement, the NCAA said Georgia Tech "failed to monitor its sports programs." In total, nine of the school's programs were cited for making at least 478 impermissible phone calls and sending at 299 text messages to recruits.

      The NCAA said most of the violations involved men's basketball, women's basketball and football from March 2011 to March 2012. The men's basketball team was cited for making calls just three days after meeting with the NCAA in April 2011, the NCAA said.

      According to the Atlanta Business Journal, Georgia Tech issued self-imposed penalties for each program for the 2012-13 seasons. They included recruiting restrictions, suspending three men's basketball assistant coaches for one conference game and suspending two women's assistant coaches for three conference games.

      On Thursday, the NCAA recommended extending the school's probation until June 13, 2017.

      The NCAA instituted new rules in 2012, but the Georgia Tech violations occurred before then.

  • Thursday, September 4, 2014
    Auriemma's call to Mo'ne Davis violates rule
    By The Sports Xchange

    The NCAA determined Thursday that UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma violated a secondary rule when he made a congratulatory phone call to pitcher Mo'ne Davis after the Little League World Series.

    • Auriemma was told that Davis, who said her dream in life is to play point guard at UConn, is not defined by the NCAA as a prospective student-athlete because she has not begun classses at the high school level and that the call was permissible.

      After a rival coach reportedly raised an issue bout the call, UConn officials opted to self-report it as a potential violation.

      UConn athletic director Warde Manuel said the school does not agree with the ruling but will comply. There was no word on what sanctions the school might face.

      "The nature of coach Auriemma's two-minute conversation with Mo'ne had nothing to do with recruiting and instead had everything to do with congratulating and encouraging Mo'ne to continued success," Manuel said.

      Davis, 13, is in eighth grade. Auriemma said he has no idea if she even plays basketball, but told the Hartford Courant of being called out "That's the world we live in."

  • Monday, August 25, 2014
    Auburn lands top JC guard
    By The Sports Xchange

    A day after his show-cause penalty ended, first-year Auburn coach Bruce Pearl received a commitment from 2015 junior college guard T.J. Dunans from Columbia State (Tenn.) Community College.

    • Dunans, 6-foot-5, is widely considered the top junior college guard in the nation. He averaged 22.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists last season.

      Dunans will likely start for the Tigers, along with Marshall transfer Kareem Canty, in the 2015-16 season.

      Over the weekend, Auburn also got commitments from highly-coveted power forward Horace Spencer and small forward Danjel Purifoy.

      The NCAA imposed the penalty after Pearl was hired last spring. One condition was that he could not have contact with recruits until Aug. 24. Pearl was fired by the University of Tennessee in 2011 for lying to NCAA investigators during an inquiry into a cookout hosted by Pearl for three recruits.

  • Saturday, August 23, 2014
    O'Bannon lawyers seek $52 million from NCAA
    By The Sports Xchange

    Lawyers for the playoffs in the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA are seeking $52.4 million in attorneys' fees.

    • The plaintiffs won a 5-year-old suit against the NCAA earlier this month. A judge had ruled that NCAA restrictions on compensation for major college football and men's basketball players violate antitrust laws.

      The suit was initiated by O'Bannon, a former UCLA basketball star, because the NCAA does not allow athletes to profit from the use of their names, images and likenesses, especially from use in video games.

      The plaintiffs, led by lawyer Michael Hausfeld of Hausfeld LLP, are seeking attorneys' fees of $46,856,319 and recoverable costs of $5,555,739 in a filing made Friday night.

      The attorneys said in the motion that Hausfeld LLP supervised and coordinated the work of 43 law firms "who contributed resources to this landmark limitation in an effort to match the dozens of attorneys litigating on the NCAA's behalf ... as well as the hundreds of attorneys representing the NCAA's member schools and conferences across the country. Each plaintiffs' firm shared in the considerable risk of non-payment given the unique aspects of this litigation and the NCAA's past success in attaining dismissal," based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1984.

      Hourly rates cited by the O'Bannon lawyers ranged from $985 for partners with more than 40 years of experience to $250 for the most junior associate.

      "These historical rates are reasonable first because they are the standard rates charged by Plaintiffs' counsel and comparable to the rates that the NCAA has paid for their own counsel in fiercely defending this litigation," the lawyers wrote.

      They cited other antitrust suits they were previously involved with that included similar rates approved by courts.

      Hausfeld claimed his law firm has spent 29,874 hours working on the case since 2009 that totals $17,078,140 in billing based on historic hourly rates. Also, it claims $2,625,802 in expenses.

      The rates used to calculate those figures "are the usual and customary hourly rates charged for each attorney or staff member's services," Hausfeld wrote.

      The NCAA, which appealed the Aug. 8 ruling, has not revealed how much it has spent on litigating the case.

      The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday set the initial briefing schedule, which runs through January 2015. If the appeal goes to oral arguments, that may not occur until late 2015 or early 2016.

  • Monday, August 18, 2014
    Nebraska lands Kansas transfer
    By The Sports Xchange

    Nebraska picked up a transfer commitment Monday from former Kansas wing Andrew White, reported.

    • The 6-foot-6 White is a former top 50 recruit who never started a game for the Jayhawks while playing behind Ben McLemore as a freshman and then Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden as a sophomore.

      White averaged 2.4 points and 6.3 minutes per game last season for Kansas.

      According to NCAA transfer rules, White will sit out the 2014-15 season and have two years of eligibility remaining at Nebraska.

      Nebraska coach Tim Miles also received a commitment Monday from 6-4 guard Aguek Arop of Omaha, a member of the Class of 2017.