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Plenty of great action on the menu this weekend

by - Published December 10, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

We’ve got plenty of great games on tap this weekend. Here’s what you can look forward to watching in between shopping online for holiday gifts.

Saturday:

  • Kentucky at Indiana
  • Ohio State at Kansas
  • Long Beach State at North Carolina
  • Washington vs. Duke at Madison Square Garden
  • Cincinnati at Xavier
  • Oklahoma State vs. Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden
  • UNLV at Wisconsin
  • Creighton at Saint Joseph’s
  • Michigan State at Gonzaga
  • Akron at Cleveland State
  • Milwaukee at Northern Iowa
  • Clemson at Arizona
  • Villanova at Temple
  • Miami at West Virginia

Sunday:

  • Murray State at Memphis
  • Iona at Marshall
  • Norfolk State at Virginia Tech

We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation

  • Before we even get to the games today, there’s intrigue building in Cincinnati with the Bearcats’ Sean Kilpatrick calling out Xavier’s Tu Holloway, writes Myron Medcalf for ESPN’s “College Basketball Nation” blog. Kipatrck told a radio host that Holloway isn’t good enough to start for the Bearcats, which seems laughable considering Holloway is averaging 17.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg and 4.7 apg for one of the top teams in the country. But there you have it. That should make the Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout extra spicy today.
  • Northern Arizona is in the market for a new coach already after Mike Adras resigned unexpectedly Dec. 9, according to the Associated Press. The Lumberjacks are off to a rough start at 2-7, with no Division I wins yet. However, in his previous nine seasons as Northern Arizona’s coach, Adras had only two losing seasons for a 133-131 record at the school.
  • Marquette will play without one of its biggest defensive presences after center Chris Otule injured his left ACL in the Golden Eagles’ win against Washington Dec. 8, according to Fox Sports’ Andrew Wagner. Otule has been averaging 5.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 1.6 blocks in just less than 18 minutes per game.
  • Arizona State won’t get its top recruit this season after the NCAA Eligibility Center ruled Jahii Carson academically ineligible for 2011-12, according to an Associated Press report.
  • You also won’t see Washington’s Scott Suggs this season. The senior guard broke his foot in October and had hoped to be ready to go by late December, but coach Lorenzo Romar announced that Suggs will redshirt this season, according to the Associated Press.
  • Staying in the Pac-12, UCLA has dismissed embattled junior forward Reeves Nelson, according to the Associated Press. Coach Ben Howland had already suspended Nelson twice this season for conduct detrimental to the team before making the decisions to kick him off the team.
  • The last thing we want to report is more molestation charges, but here we go again. ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported that two former basketball players are accusing Amateur Athletic Union president Robert “Bobby” Dodd of molesting them more than 20 years ago. The AAU gets plenty of criticism already, but nothing of this caliber. The AAU said that Dodd has colon cancer and will not be returning to his post, according to a CBS Sports report.

Syracuse adamantly denies molestation allegations by associate coach

by - Published November 18, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

The biggest storyline of the day broke late afternoon Nov. 17 when ESPN reported that Syracuse police are investigating allegations that Syracuse associate coach Bernie Fine sexually molested a couple of ball boys during a period that lasted more than a decade.

ESPN is taking a risk with this story. The rumors about Fine molesting a former ball boy emerged more than five years ago. In fact, in a statement posted on the university’s website last night, Syracuse heard about the allegations from an adult male who said he talked to police. The university conducted its own investigation, which included interviews with people that the accuser named. None of those people corroborated the accusations.

That leaves ESPN in a precarious position. The network is bringing this story to the forefront now because a second person has launched molestation charges at Fine. That person happens to be the older stepbrother of the other accuser. Syracuse police are looking into the accusations again. But there’s nothing certain.

However, if you watch the eight-minute segment about Mark Schwarz’s research for ESPN, you get the sense that he is siding with Bobby Davis, the 39-year-old who previously accused Fine. Schwarz questions why no one asked whether it would be inappropriate for Davis and Fine to share hotel rooms during travel and spend significant secluded time together. Those are legitimate questions, but his reporting seems wholly one-sided, and we don’t hear the opinions of other people involved.

In another statement posted on Syracuse’s site, coach Jim Boeheim denies the accusations, citing the university’s 2005 investigation and his 40-year relationship with his associate coach. In an article accompanying the interview with Schwarz, Boeheim told ESPN that he believes the accusers are seeking money and using ESPN as part of their scheme.

That’s a brash accusation in its own right. On one side, we have two individuals — who have a family relationship — making sordid accusations that scarily resemble the scandal unfolding at Penn State. On the other side, we have Syracuse representatives and Boeheim vehemently denying the charges and painting the accusers as mercenaries.

This will not end well for someone.

So far, Syracuse seems to be handling the events fairly well, placing Fine on administrative leave while police continue their investigation. That’s probably an appropriate reaction that allows the school to reinstate the coach if the charges are unfounded. But if there’s truth to these accusations, the university can quickly terminate Fine and avoid the negative appearance of callously paying a sexual predator.

Although it’s somewhat hard to tell based on the mess in State College, Pa., people are innocent until proven guilty in this country. Syracuse seems to be on the right track to allow the police and attorneys to do their jobs.

ESPN, on the other hand, will appear to be less objective if it turns out that the Worldwide Leader in Sports was played in a plot to achieve personal gains.

Fortunately, we have lots of great basketball ahead this weekend to keep our attention on the hardwood. Here’s a rundown of some of the top match ups on tap.

Friday

  • Davidson at Duke
  • Temple vs. Purdue in Puerto Rico Tip-Off
  • Wichita State vs. Alabama in Puerto Rico Tip-Off
  • Arizona vs. Mississippi State in 2K Sports Classic in New York City
  • Texas A&M vs. St. John’s in 2K Sports Classic in New York City
  • Drake at Ole Miss
  • Akron at Valparaiso

Saturday

  • Louisville at Butler
  • James Madison at La Salle in Philly Hoop Group Classic
  • Long Beach State at San Diego State
  • Charleston at Clemson
  • Vanderbilt vs. NC State in TicketCity Legends Classic in East Rutherford, N.J.
  • Texas vs. Oregon State in TicketCity Legends Classic in East Rutherford, N.J.

Sunday

  • Championship and third-place game of Puerto Rico Tip-Off
  • Washington at Saint Louis
  • Rhode Island at Nebraska
  • Murray State at UAB
  • Creighton at Iowa

 

We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation.

  • UCLA’s Reeves Nelson convinced coach Ben Howland that he’s had an attitude adjustment and is ready to return to action after Howland suspended him earlier this week, writes Peter Yoon for ESPN Los Angeles.
  • For Louisville’s big game against the national runners-up, Butler, the Cardinals likely won’t have their starting point guard, Peyton Siva, according to the Associated Press. Siva injured his ankle in practice, and he could need another week or so to fully recover.
  • The dust is beginning to settle on the initial signing period for 2012 recruits, and Rivals.com has the ACC as the big winner thus far. The conference sneaks past the Big East for the top spot, with NC State and North Carolina as the headliners.

ACC’s hot start could be a harbinger of better times ahead

by - Published November 17, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

After six full days into the regular season, the ACC is the only undefeated conference remaining. And that pretty much guarantees that Maryland will lose to Alabama Thursday night or Georgia Tech will fall against Saint Joseph’s.

No one really keeps track of which conferences go the longest without a loss, but hoops pundits love to banter about which conference is tops in the game. The ACC hasn’t been part of that conversation for a few years now, despite claiming two of the past three champions and a contender or two for this year’s title.

As of this week, the ACC has North Carolina, Duke and Florida State in the top 25. No other team even received a vote from the pollsters. As Rodney Dangerfield often lamented, this conference doesn’t get any respect these days, with everyone focusing on Tobacco Road and ignoring most of the rest of the conference. That would be a mistake this season.

Already, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Virginia have flashed plenty of promise. They’ll need to bring down some of the big boys from conferences like the Big East, Big 12 and Big Ten before they rise into the public spotlight. That’s probably going to start happening in the next couple of weeks as the early season tournaments gain steam and more power conference squads go head to head.

When it’s all said and done this season, don’t be surprised if at least five different ACC teams spend some quality time in the top 25, and the conference once again joins the discussion as tops in the land.

We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation.

  • New Providence coach Ed Cooley and the Friars returned to his former employers at Fairfield Monday, and Providence escaped with a hard-fought 80-72 win, according to a CBS Sports.com report. The Friars’ head honcho had plenty of reason to feel emotionally torn after enjoying success in the MAAC in his first coaching gig and building strong relationships with players such as Rakim Sanders, writes Matt Norlander.
  • UCLA suspended Reeves Nelson for bad behavior after the junior forward blew off a practice Monday and looked selfishly frustrated in the Bruins’ opening loss to Loyola Marymount, writes Peter Yoon for ESPN Los Angeles. The Bruins dropped their second consecutive game Tuesday when Middle Tennessee State handled the Nelson-less squad.
  • After an 0-2 start, UCLA fans must be yearning for the golden age led by the legendary John Wooden. Those days are long gone, but Wooden — or at least a statue bearing his resemblance — will greet every player and fan entering the renovated Pauley Pavilion, Peter Yoon writes on ESPN.com.
  • St. Bonaventure will play the rest of the season without forward Marquise Simmons, who tore his Achilles tendon against Cornell, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report. The junior provided solid depth for St. Bonaventure, averaging about four points and rebounds per game last season.
  • If “best” refers to most talented, CBS Sports.com’s Jeff Goodman explains why Kentucky, not North Carolina, is the best team in the country this season.
  • No sleep till Brooklyn! The Beastie Boys can lend that motto to Kentucky and Maryland next year when the Wildcats and Terrapins meet in the first-ever Barclays Center Classic, to be held at the new arena under construction in Brooklyn, N.Y., according to the Associated Press.

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