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The Morning Dish – Thursday, January 19, 2017

January 19, 2017 The Morning Dish No Comments

Well, now we know what’s behind one of the real mysteries of this college basketball season: the absence of Arizona guard Allonzo Trier. It’s entirely possible that we won’t see him at all this season.

On a busy night of games, this story takes the lead. It brings in a lot of different subjects.

Trier, who just turned 21 on Tuesday, figured to be a Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate, as well as an All-America candidate after he came on strong the latter part of last season. Dillon Brooks might have been the favorite for that, but Trier was there in most projections. But he was pulled out of Media Day, and while not playing, he still sat on the bench during games, which does not always happen when a player is suspended or ineligible. As time went on and the Wildcats didn’t have him, you wondered if they were going to level off just as you thought about how good they could be with him, considering they have been winning without him.

ESPN reported that Trier tested positive for a performance enhancing drug before the season. According to the report, Trier presented evidence that satisfied the NCAA that he did not know about it, as it came from someone close to his family as he presumably tried to recover from a serious car accident, and that at least restored his eligibility. But until all traces of the drug leaves his system, he will not be able to play. He can only practice, which he has done all season.

Let’s be thankful, for a moment, that Trier is still with us. We don’t know details of the car accident, but if it’s being described as a serious one then we can count our blessings that he’s still with us.

PEDs have now entered the realm of college basketball, at least in discussion. For all we know, they may well have been part of it for a long time, but no one has been caught, or at least, no player with as high a profile as Trier. Given how short the season is, the punishment can be quite severe even for a first offense – Trier has already missed more than half of the season and will miss more time.

In fact, he may miss the entire season. It’s anyone’s guess how fast the drug can completely leave his body. In addition, while it sounds like he will go right into the lineup if cleared, at some point there’s a practical question of whether or not you do that. By this point in the season and later, teams have largely established their lineup and combinations. Players know their roles, they have played together all season, and are in a certain flow. Adding a player in disrupts that and can do more harm than good, even a very good player. There is less time for the player to get into that flow or for teammates to re-adjust. This is not a statement of a player’s character – by all accounts Trier is a good young man – but rather, of humans being creatures of habit.

In the meantime, the Wildcats have been able to go on with business as usual, winning game after game. Sean Miller and his staff deserve a ton of credit for being able to get this team to where they are without their most proven player on the floor for a minute of game action. They kept their team focused and didn’t let this become a distraction, and they found ways to win with who they had. Arizona is currently 16-2 overall and 5-0 in Pac-12 play as they head to LA to play USC and UCLA.

 

Side Dishes

One of the big stories from Tuesday night was in the Siena-Rider game, where a fight broke out and Rider coach Kevin Baggett attempted to avoid any further issue by getting his team off the court as soon as the game ended, while Siena coach Jimmy Patsos did an invisible handshake line. After both coaches understood the other’s actions without issue, the MAAC suspended the players involved in the altercation, Rider guard Anthony Durham and Siena guard Marquis Wright, and reprimanded the coaches. The players must sign the MAAC’s sportsmanship statement, as must the coaches, both of whom have been in the MAAC for a while.

Wednesday night had some great games. Oklahoma looks like they may be turning a corner, as they went to West Virginia and knocked off the Mountaineers in overtime 89-87. Florida State handed Notre Dame their first ACC loss with an 83-80 decision in Tallahassee in a game that probably didn’t get the billing it deserved but was excellent. South Carolina edged visiting Florida 57-53 as Sindarius Thornwell continues to play well since returning from his suspension, scoring 20 points to lead the way. In the Missouri Valley, Northern Iowa won their second straight after starting 0-5, this time beating visiting Loyola (Ill.) 72-69 in double overtime. And one of the last games of the night was an entertaining one with Colorado at Washington. The Buffaloes took advantage of poor Washington transition defense at times in the first half to go up 39-24 at the break, but the Huskies steadily rallied in the second half and then pulled out an 87-85 win in overtime behind 37 points and eight assists from Markelle Fultz.

Indiana went to Penn State and pulled out a 78-75 win on a late three-pointer, but also saw O.G. Anunoby go down at the end of the first half. The sophomore forward appeared to injure his right knee and never returned. Anunoby missed three games in December due to injury as well.

In the Atlantic 10 and Patriot League, there was one surprise result each: Fordham beat VCU for the first time, getting a buzzer-beating jumper for a 69-67 overtime win in a battle of Rams. Colgate went to Boston University and beat the Terriers 67-58. The Raiders came in at 2-4 in Patriot League play, three games behind the Terriers, who entered the evening tied atop the league.

Former Western Michigan player Joeviair Kennedy that it was his co-defendant who shot Jacob Jones during a robbery. Jordan Waire has been charged along with Kennedy of murder and armed robbery in the December 8 shooting. Kennedy had played in eight games this season, but has not been with the team since then. According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, a judge ruled there is enough evidence to send Waire to trial.

 

Tonight’s Menu

It’s a good day, with the best games coming later in the evening.

  • Maryland looks to continue its Big Ten run as they visit Iowa (7 p.m.)
  • A game that figured to be a bigger one before the season is on tap as UConn visits SMU (7 p.m.)
  • A big Atlantic 10 matchup is Dayton hosting Richmond (7 p.m.)
  • The CAA has a full slate that features a matchup of its two undefeated teams as UNCW visits College of Charleston (7 p.m.)
  • Siena visits St. Peter’s for a key matchup in the MAAC (8 p.m.)
  • The Ohio Valley also has a game with a couple of top teams on tap as 4-1 Jacksonville State visits 5-0 Belmont (8 p.m.), as does the Big South with two 5-1 teams battling as Winthrop hosts UNC Asheville (9 p.m.)
  • Clemson has had some tough losses, but could make up for them somewhat in their trip to Louisville (9 p.m.)
  • Out west is where they get good: Cal visits Oregon and USC hosts Arizona (9 p.m.), UCLA hosts Arizona State and Santa Clara hosts Gonzaga (11 p.m.)

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