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The Morning Dish – Saturday, December 17, 2016

December 17, 2016 The Morning Dish No Comments

By now, most teams are done with final exams. The light period of college basketball is past us and a flurry of games will be on tap between now and next Friday. With little action on the hardwood even last night, it’s a good time to step back and think about what has happened in college basketball.

As we have seen often, the college game is in remarkably great shape, much maligned though it tends to be. The product remains great, with many compelling stories, though the game is not without its areas for concern. It is the latter that we should hope does not take a turn for the worse.

Conference realignment remains a constant threat. Through it, we have lost some amazing rivalries, while others now involve teams playing just once a year instead of twice. We also have conferences that have become walking identity crises like Conference USA and the American Athletic Conference. While both are good, Conference USA’s best days are very much in the rearview mirror and The American has programs itching to leave for another conference.

But whether programs change conferences, there are other issues that came to the forefront recently. For one, we had another coach who got in trouble for conduct toward his players. This time, it is Sean Woods, a promising coach who did a great job at Mississippi Valley State, then got off to a nice start at Morehead State. Woods was suspended for allegedly hitting two players, and he resigned on Thursday. He was 77-65 at the school.

Has a promising coaching career been cut short? It’s entirely possible. You have to think schools will be gun-shy about hiring Woods given his history. The sport has already been rocked by what happened with Mike Rice at Rutgers, and George Washington fired Mike Lonergan very suddenly a few months ago because of alleged mistreatment of some of his players. All three have had their share of success.

And while this happened in college football, the story at Wake Forest of a former player, coach and broadcaster leaking information to other teams will naturally put many coaches’ guards up. This kind of thing can happen in basketball, too – and let’s hope it doesn’t.

Right now, we get to enjoy the games. In the meantime, let’s hope the game’s issues don’t help curtail the enjoyment we get out of the games and the stories that come with it.

 

Side Dishes

Belmont was scheduled to play at Green Bay on Saturday, but that game has been postponed due to Winter Storm Decima. Belmont was unable to make the trip. They have not announced plans to re-schedule the game as of yet.

North Carolina will get back a player they have certainly missed, as Joel Berry II will return to the lineup on Saturday. The Tar Heels play Kentucky in the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas, and Berry has missed the past two games with a sprained ankle. The Tar Heels’ offense was noticeably worse without their floor leader, but he has practiced recently and will be ready to go on Saturday.

Auburn got a boost of a different sort, as Austin Wiley enrolled at the school and thus can play right now. Wiley was slated to come to the school next year, but has been practicing with the Tigers and will play on Sunday when they take on Mercer. The son of Auburn alums, he should be able to help a team that doesn’t rebound especially well.

 

Tonight’s Menu

The slate picks up in a big way on Saturday, including with a few doubleheaders.

  • A great Big East rivalry is renewed as Syracuse hosts Georgetown (noon Eastern).
  • The Honda Center in Houston plays host to Texas A&M and Arizona at noon.
  • South Carolina looks to rebound from a tough loss as they head south to visit South Florida (1 p.m.)
  • In the Metro PCS Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, Florida, Manhattan takes on Florida State (1:30 p.m.)
  • The Crossroads Classic takes place in Indianapolis and starts with Notre Dame taking on Purdue (2 p.m.), then Butler takes on Indiana (5 p.m.)
  • The CBS Sports Classic heads to Las Vegas this year and starts with UCLA taking on Ohio State (3 p.m.), then North Carolina battles Kentucky (5:45 p.m.)
  • Kansas hosts Davidson in the Jayhawk Shootout in Kansas City (7 p.m.)
  • Two of Skip Prosser’s former schools match up in the Skip Prosser Tournament as Wake Forest visits Xavier (8 p.m.)
  • In the last game of the night, Oregon hosts UNLV (11 p.m.)

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