FSU benches Winston for 1st half of Clemson game (Yahoo Sports) - Jameis Winston has been benched for the first half of Saturday's game against Clemson after making ''offensive and vulgar'' comments about women and Florida State officials say that the quarterback will undergo internal discipline. The decision was announced Wednesday in a joint statement by Florida State interim President Dr. Garnett S. Stokes and athletic director Stan Wilcox. Several students tweeted Winston stood on campus Tuesday and shouted a lascivious comment that may have derived from an internet meme. The president and AD said, ''As the university's most visible ambassadors, student-athletes at Florida State are expected to uphold at all times high standards of integrity and behavior that reflect well upon themselves, their families, coaches, teammates, the Department of Athletics and Florida State University. After making 'mistake,' Vikings bench RB Peterson (Yahoo Sports) - Hours after reversing course and benching Adrian Peterson indefinitely, Minnesota Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said Wednesday that the team ''made a mistake'' in bringing back their superstar running back following his indictment on a felony child-abuse charge in Texas. Our goal is always to make the decision we feel is right for the Minnesota Vikings ... We want to be sure we get this right.'' Wilf and his co-owner brother, Mark Wilf, announced their decision around 2 a.m. Eastern after concluding it was best for the Vikings and for Peterson, their All-Pro workhorse who has played his entire NFL career with Minnesota and is accused of injuring his 4-year-old son by spanking him with a wooden switch earlier this year. A day-and-a-half earlier, the Vikings said Peterson would rejoin the team after missing Sunday's loss to New England. The Vikings had at least one major sponsorship suspended. England Women thrash Montenegro 10-0 - FSU coach may bench QB Winston after lewd remark (Yahoo Sports) - Jameis Winston has made lewd comments about women and Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher says he is deciding whether to bench the Seminoles' quarterback for his ''derogatory'' remarks. Several students tweeted Winston stood on campus Tuesday and shouted a lascivious comment that may have derived from an internet meme. ''It was something that has to be addressed.'' Winston's latest questionable off-field decision-making lack comes when Florida State is under scrutiny. Florida State is currently under investigation by the Department of Education for the way it handles reports of sexual assault, including a case involving Winston. Premiership wage cap up to £5.5m - The Premiership salary cap next season will rise by £500,000 to £5.5m and clubs will be allowed a second marquee player. Jaguars shuffling O-line, sticking with QB Henne (Yahoo Sports) - JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars are making changes - just not the one many outsiders want to see. NFL, union agree to new drug policy, HGH testing (Yahoo Sports) - The NFL said Wednesday that its new performance-enhancing drug policy will allow the Broncos' Wes Welker and two other suspended players to return to the field this week. The deal with the players association also adds human growth hormone testing, ending several years of wrangling between the league and the union. Welker, Dallas Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick and St. Louis Rams wide receiver Stedman Bailey had been suspended for four games. Testing for HGH was originally agreed upon in 2011, but the players had balked at the science in the testing and the appeals process for positive tests. Ukraine Women 1-0 Wales Women - Wales Women's hopes of qualifying for the 2015 World Cup are over after losing 1-0 away to Group 6 rivals Ukraine. No McIlroy-McDowell issue - McGinley - European captain Paul McGinley has no concerns over Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell's relationship ahead of the Ryder Cup. Vikings bar Peterson from team activities (Yahoo Sports) - The Minnesota Vikings changed course early Wednesday and decided in the middle of the night to put star running back Adrian Peterson on hiatus while he deals with a felony child-abuse charge in Texas. Vikings owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf said they made they move after ''further reflection'' and concluded it was best for the Vikings and for Peterson, their All-Pro workhorse who has played his entire NFL career with Minnesota and is accused of injuring his 4-year-old son by spanking him with a wooden switch earlier this year. The organization cited an NFL exemption and put Peterson on the exempt-commissioner's permission list, meaning he is off the active roster while he deals with his legal affairs. Just a day-and-a-half earlier, the Vikings had said he would rejoin the team after missing Sunday's loss to New England.

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Suspended Texas guard Martez Walker arrested again [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 17, 2014, 5:04 pm]
Not even a week after he was arrested for misdemeanor assault and barred from campus aside from class time, Texas guard Martez Walker did the one thing he could not afford to do if he has any hope of playing for the Longhorns this season. He got into more trouble. Walker was arrested for trespassing Monday after returning to the same dorm where he allegedly punched his girlfriend four times last week during a heated argument, the Austin American Statesman reported on Wednesday. Walker's girlfriend told police the initial argument last week began because he was upset that she went to a happy hour with a male colleague. Texas coach Rick Barnes responded to Walker's initial arrest by suspending him indefinitely Friday, adding in a statement that the coaching staff has "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." The Longhorns have yet to comment since Walker's second arrest became public knowledge Wednesday morning.   Though Walker averaged 4.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game last season and closed the season by scoring in double figures in four of Texas' last five games, he certainly isn't irreplaceable for the Longhorns should they decide to dismiss him. Texas returns all five starters and adds elite recruit Myles Turner, meaning there's a good chance Walker's role actually will diminish slightly this season even if he plays. One option for the Longhorns is inserting Turner into the lineup at power forward and sliding Jonathan Holmes to small forward, which would mean Walker, Demarcus Holland, Kendal Yancy, Demarcus Croaker and freshman Jordan Barnett all would be competing for playing time at wing off the bench.  So Walker already was in for a fight to keep his spot in the Texas rotation as a sophomore. Now that he has been arrested twice in one week, his place on the team is all the more tenuous.  - - - - - - - Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dag

Top freshman JaQuan Lyle no longer on Oregon's roster [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 17, 2014, 2:35 pm]
After Oregon updated its men's basketball roster on Tuesday evening, it didn't take long for savvy fans to point out a key difference. JaQuan Lyle, Oregon's top freshman, is no longer on it. Lyle was not admitted to the university despite being cleared by the NCAA, Rivals.com reported Wednesday morning. An Oregon spokesman did not immediately respond Wednesday to an email from Yahoo Sports seeking confirmation. Adding to the confusion over Lyle's status at Oregon is a tweet he sent Tuesday night that read "I'm good, y'all! I promise, just wait!!" The Rivals.com report indicated Lyle needed to finish a summer course to complete his admission requirements to Oregon and a final determination on that course has yet to occur. Whether Lyle ever dons an Oregon jersey is unclear at this point, but what's abundantly clear is how big a loss it would be for the already shorthanded Ducks if he can't play this season.  Lyle, Rivals.com's No. 24 recruit in the Class of 2014, is an outstanding outside shooter who can also both score and distribute off the dribble. He is projected to start right away at wing if he is able to play for the Ducks this season. Not having Lyle would leave Oregon with only 10 scholarship players and further diminish the Ducks' depth. Between five seniors graduating, several key transfers and the dismissal of Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis and Brandon Austin, Oregon returns only two key players from last season: Pac-12 player of the year candidate Joseph Young and forward Elgin Cook. If Lyle indeed is denied admission to Oregon, he would be the second member of the Ducks' freshman class to have that happen despite meeting NCAA standards. That suggests Oregon perhaps is being especially vigilant with its admissions process in response to the rape allegations that led to the dismissals of Dotson, Artis and Austin in June. Austin, a Providence transfer, was suspended for his freshman year at Providence after being accused of sexual assault but Oregon took

Longwood player arrested for punching his dance-off opponent [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 16, 2014, 3:20 pm]
The arrest of a basketball player from Division I newcomer Longwood University wouldn't normally make headlines nationally. What makes Shaquille Johnson's legal trouble more noteworthy is what led up to it. Johnson, an Auburn transfer, was charged with felony malicious wounding after an August 31 altercation that started because of a dance-off, of all things. Farmville Police Chief Doug Mooney told the Longwood Rotunda that Johnson was unhappy with the outcome of his dance-off against Hampton Sydney College student Aaron Doman and allegedly struck Doman in the mouth hard enough to knock out several of his teeth and send him to the hospital. While it's hard not to chuckle at the idea of felony charges stemming from a one-on-one dance competition at a party, the incident is likely no laughing matter for Johnson. The onetime highly regarded prospect is still trying to resurrect his basketball career after off-the-court troubles derailed it.  Former Auburn coach Tony Barbee dismissed Johnson in July 2013 after Auburn police charged him with second degree possession of marijuana following a traffic stop. Barbee's comments afterward suggested this was not Johnson's first offense during his year-long stint with the Tigers. "We hold our student-athletes to a high standard at Auburn University in the way that they conduct themselves off the court,” Barbee said in a news release. “I am very disappointed in Shaq’s choices and actions, and they won’t be tolerated. This decision is not one that I take lightly, but it is in the best interest of both the program and the student-athlete." Johnson spent a year at Northwest Florida State College following his dismissal at Auburn before enrolling at Longwood this year. Judging from the statement Longwood Athletics gave the Rotunda, it appears Johnson will still be playing for the Lancers this season despite his latest arrest. “Shaquille is in school now and going about his business as a Longwood student and student-athle

Antonio Blakeney's commitment to Louisville proves short-lived [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 16, 2014, 12:44 pm]
Antonio Blakeney's commitment to Louisville lasted only 11 days. The five-star guard quickly got a case of cold feet, announcing Monday night that he is backing out of his commitment to Louisville and reopening his recruitment. It's unusual for a top prospect to renege on his initial commitment to a school and still end up signing there, but Blakeney insists the Cardinals remain a strong contender to land him. "I am still really considering Louisville heavily," Blakeney tweeted. "I like everything about [the] program, coaches and fans!!" Blakeney's explanation for his decommitment was that he made an impulse decision selecting Louisville before visiting other programs and he wants to be sure it's the right school for him. Jerry Meyer of 247Sports reported that Blakeney was under pressure from folks at Nike to at least look into other schools since the 6-foot-4 shooting guard plays for Nike-affiliated Each One Teach One and Louisville is one of Adidas' flagship schools. "I don't play up shoe company angle in basketball recruiting but decommitment of Antonio Blakeney from Louisville is shoe company related," Meyer tweeted. "Nike infrastructure [and] those part of [and] affiliated helped Antonio Blakeney get where he is. Considered rash to commit after visiting one school." It's unclear which schools Blakeney will now visit, but it's a safe bet many of the programs originally involved in his recruitment will resurface as contenders. LSU, Missouri, Kentucky and Oregon — all Nike programs — are expected to be among the schools Blakeney considers. Whichever school lands Blakeney is getting an explosive scorer ranked 13th in the Rivals.com Class of 2015 ratings. He needs to add strength, but he is quick off the dribble, adept at sinking mid-range jumpers and nearly impossible to guard when his streaky 3-point shot is falling. If Louisville can't successfully entice Blakeney to commit a second time, it's a blow for a Cardinals class that was shaping up to be perhaps Ric

Report: UCLA's potential starting point guard denied admission [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 15, 2014, 7:41 pm]
Only days after one of its top recruits failed to qualify, UCLA learned it has lost a second key newcomer due to academic issues. Jon Octeus, a Colorado State transfer considered the likely heir apparent to Kyle Anderson at point guard, has been denied admission to UCLA, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reported Monday. A UCLA spokesman declined comment when asked if he could confirm the report. Assuming Octeus indeed never plays for the Bruins, that could be an even bigger loss than top 75 recruit Jonah Bolden being ruled a partial qualifier Friday. With junior Tony Parker and McDonald's All-Americans Kevon Looney and Thomas Welsh, UCLA has sufficient frontcourt depth to make up for not having Bolden, but Octeus might have been the best option for the Bruins at point guard.  UCLA now only has nine scholarship players on its roster next season and three scholarship guards: senior Norman Powell, sophomore Bryce Alford and newcomer Isaac Hamilton.  The only scholarship point guard on UCLA's roster now is  Alford, who showed flashes of competence as a shooter and distributor last season but is probably better suited to a backup role because of his defensive shortcomings. UCLA could also attempt to convert 2013 McDonald's All-American Isaac Hamilton to point guard, but he is far from an ideal fit for the position considering his reputation as more of a volume scorer than a distributor in high school.    If point guard becomes a season-long issue for UCLA, the Bruins will surely rue some swings and misses on the recruiting trail last year. UCLA landed a bevy of elite big men but the Bruins failed to land point guard targets Jordan McLaughlin (USC), Quentin Snider (Louisville) and Josh Perkins (Gonzaga), creating a void at that position. Octeus, a 6-foot-4 senior, started for Colorado State last season and averaged 13.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He might not have been able to duplicate those numbers for UCLA, but he at the very least provided a potential opt

Nebraska forward makes touching gesture for assistant coach's son [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 15, 2014, 5:07 pm]
Shavon Shields took it to a whole notha' level tonight! #Committed #Avery'sBiggestFan #BaldNation #AveryStrong pic.twitter.com/rF7rlA1PxX— Chris Harriman (@chrisharriman24) September 15, 2014 When Nebraska forward Shavon Shields shaved his head Sunday night, it wasn't just because he was ready for a new look. He made the change to show support for the cancer-stricken son of one of his coaches. Avery Harriman, the seven-year-old son of Nebraska assistant Chris Harriman, is battling leukemia for the third time in his short life. Chemotherapy has robbed Avery of his hair, but Shields is making sure he doesn't have to endure it alone. The gesture by Shields impressed both his current head coach Tim Miles and former Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler. Said Miles: "This is so cool!!!" Said Sadler: "Always knew Shavon was a special person. You the man Avery!!" Avery was initially diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 2 and relapsed in Oct. 2012. Since doctors were unsure chemotherapy would be enough to eliminate all the cancer cells in his body, Avery underwent a bone marrow transplant in Feb. 2013, a high-risk, high-reward procedure that provided him a new immune system to fight the residual leukemia. The procedure proved effective for more than a year, but in July a biopsy revealed that Avery's cancer had returned and was no longer in remission. Having already underwent chemotherapy in hopes of getting the cancer back into remission, Avery is now preparing for a second bone marrow transplant. Last month, video of a fist-pumping Avery learning he'd get to come home from the hospital for a few days was picked up by numerous TV news shows and went viral on social media. Cancer may have taken Avery's hair but it hasn't taken his enthusiasm. - - - - - - - Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @JeffEisenberg

A.J. Guyton to Bob Knight: Return to Indiana, help heal old wounds [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 13, 2014, 5:43 am]
In the 14 years since Indiana controversially fired Bob Knight, the iconic former Hoosiers coach has never returned to the school he led to five Final Fours and three national championships.  One of Knight's most famous former players hopes that separation ends soon.  Former Big Ten player of the year A.J. Guyton, one of five new members of Indiana's athletic hall of fame, wrote an open letter on his Facebook page appealing to Knight to come back to Bloomington for the Nov. 7 induction dinner. Guyton believes a reconciliation between Knight and Indiana is the only way the program will ever reconnect with former players torn between showing loyalty to their coach and their school. "Without you, Coach Knight, the relationships are strange at IU," Guyton wrote. "We are accepted and appreciated but there's a mission to "move on" from us. You're the only person who can make everything right & bridge this gap. It's not about the former administration, it's about the players you created [who] are in limbo, stuck in between. We are all experiencing various successes but not knowing how to include IU basketball. "I'm certainly not asking anyone to apologize for anything. I'm simply extending a public invitation for you to do ME a favor, attend the induction ceremony on November 7th, it would mean the world to me as a former player and supporter. For you to come see the young professional you've helped create. I believe it's time, i believe the time is now. "Indiana University, whatever charity you have to donate to on Coach Knight's behalf, lets get it done. Time's ticking & we all deserve a homecoming. I'm asking you, Coach Bob Knight, you said you'd do anything for me once I graduated, can you please attend my induction ceremony, which is coming back home to Indiana University?" While the 1,129-word letter from Guyton may be the most heartfelt plea to Knight, it certainly isn't the first. In 2009, Indiana inducted Knight into its athletic hall of fame but he declined to

Eligibility issues will sideline one of UCLA's freshmen for the season [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 12, 2014, 7:51 pm]
The highly touted freshman class UCLA expects to mitigate the loss of three first-round draft picks this season will be one member smaller than expected. The NCAA has declared Australian forward Jonah Bolden a partial qualifier and ruled him ineligible to play during the 2014-15 season, ESPN.com first reported Friday. Bolden, a consensus four-star recruit can remain on athletic scholarship this school year and would be able to compete for the Bruins beginning the following season.  Eligibility issues for Bolden aren't a huge surprise because some schools were cautious recruiting him out of fear he might not qualify. UCLA took that chance and could still benefit from it, assuming Bolden remains long enough to play for the Bruins in future years. In the short term, however, not having Bolden is a blow for a UCLA team that must replace the perimeter scoring of Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Zach LaVine from last year's Pac-12 tournament champion and Sweet 16 team. The 6-foot-8 Bolden could have helped in that regard because he is versatile enough to score from the post and the perimeter. Nonetheless, UCLA has plenty of depth and talent in the frontcourt next season even without Bolden coming off the bench. Six-foot-10 junior Tony Parker is a former top 50 recruit who has bided his time for two seasons and now could be ready to emerge as an interior focal point. Incoming freshmen Kevon Looney and Thomas Welsh also should be ready to contribute right away. Looney is talented power forward who spurned Duke and Florida to join the Bruins, while the 7-foot Welsh is a late-blooming Los Angeles product who eventually blossomed into a McDonald's All-American center as a high school senior.    So between those three and sophomore reserve Wanaah Bail, UCLA still has sufficient depth in the frontcourt. It just will have to wait a year to benefit from Bolden's versatility and inside-outside prowess.  - - - - - - - Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Ha

Non-conference scheduling studs and duds: The SEC [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 12, 2014, 3:31 pm]
Since most of next season's non-conference schedules have finally been released, it's a good time to assess whose slates are the most daunting and who didn't challenge themselves enough. The Dagger will go league-by-league the next two weeks. Up next: The SEC. Toughest non-league schedule: Florida To understand how challenging Florida's non-league schedule is once again this season, consider this for a moment: Kentucky will play five potential preseason top 25 teams in non-league play, and the Gators' slate still is a smidge tougher than that of the Wildcats. Of the eight games against power-conference foes Fiorida could play before the start of the SEC season, the toughest are probably a road game at potential top-five Kansas and a home game against the UConn team that eliminated the Gators in last year's Final Four. Florida will also play in next season's toughest holiday tournament, the Battle 4 Atlantis, where it will face Georgetown on day one, Wisconsin or UAB on day two and North Carolina, UCLA, Oklahoma or Butler on day three.   Those are Florida's five marquee games but other challenges await. The Gators visit rival Florida State and host Wake Forest and in-state foe Miami. Credit Billy Donovan for not being afraid to test a team that lost four starter's from last year's Final Four run but still should begin the new season in the top 10 in the polls. If former backups Kasey Hill, Chris Walker and Dorian Finney-Smith can adjust to bigger roles and make a big impact, the Gators should be fine.  Easiest non-league schedule: Mississippi State Some teams with weak schedules go out of their way to avoid challenging themselves. Others are victims of scheduling a couple solid programs in the midst of transition years. In Mississippi State's case, it could be both. It starts with the exempt tournament the Bulldogs will participate in — the Corpus Christi Challenge — where they will open against a rebuilding Saint Louis team that lost the five seniors who spea

Illinois loses starting point guard Tracy Abrams to an ACL tear [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 11, 2014, 11:39 pm]
It's a good thing Illinois is so deep in the backcourt entering the season because the Illini learned Thursday that they won't have one of their key perimeter players from last year. Tracy Abrams, a senior who started all 35 games at point guard last season, tore the ACL in his right knee during a workout earlier this week and will miss the entire 2014-15 season, the school announced Thursday. "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 in a statement. "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." Having Abrams back for the 2015-16 season is small consolation for an Illinois team eager to return to the NCAA tournament after settling for an NIT bid last season. The 6-foot-2 senior averaged 10.7 points and a team-high 3.2 assists last season, showcasing an ability to set up his teammates for easy baskets, take care of the ball and play fierce on-ball defense. The player likely to inherit a starting job in Abrams' place is Oregon State transfer Ahmad Starks, a speedy 5-foot-9 senior who averaged 10.4 points two seasons ago for the Beavers but also fell out of the starting lineup by the end of that season. Starks shot below 40 percent from the field all three seasons at Oregon State, struggled defensively at times because of his size and tended to look for his own shot a bit too often, a trait that led him to produce three or less assists in all but six games as a junior. In addition to Starks, sophomore point guard Jaylon Tate and Seton Hall transfer Aaron Cosby will probably play increased roles because of Abrams' absence. Tate is a natural point guard who made good decisions in limited playing time last s

Non-conference scheduling studs and duds: The Pac-12 [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 11, 2014, 3:36 pm]
Since most of next season's non-conference schedules have finally been released, it's a good time to assess whose slates are the most daunting and who didn't challenge themselves enough. The Dagger will go league-by-league the next two weeks. Up next: The Pac-12. Toughest non-league schedule: UCLA It won't take long to figure out whether UCLA's newcomers can provide the firepower to replace first-round draft picks Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams and Zach Lavine. By the time the Bruins start Pac-12 play, they could face as many as five teams that begin the season in the Top 25. One reason UCLA's schedule is the Pac-12's toughest is because the Bruins will participate in the most formidable holiday tournament of the college hoops season. They open the Battle 4 Atlantis against Big 12 contender Oklahoma, meet either North Carolina or Butler on day two and square off against Wisconsin, Florida, Georgetown or UAB on day three. Besides that, UCLA has a pair of individual games against elite opposition: a visit from Gonzaga on Dec. 13 and a neutral-court matchup in Chicago with likely preseason No. 1 Kentucky on Dec. 20. Then there's also a tricky road game at Alabama on Dec. 28. So this is definitely a tougher schedule than UCLA has played in the recent past. The Bruins will have to hope their returning perimeter talent and their frontcourt-heavy recruiting class are up to the challenge. Easiest non-league schedule: Washington State Washington State's non-conference games can easily be separated into two categories: Gonzaga and everything else. The neutral-court rivalry game against the loaded Zags on Dec. 10 should be intriguing, but Cougs fans will have to survive plenty of yawners before and afterward. The only two true non-league road games Washington State will play in Ernie Kent's debut season are at a UTEP team that could contend in Conference USA and a TCU team looking to stay out of the basement in the Big 12. The Cougars will also participate in the Great Alaska Sho

Villanova's point guard of the future grew up rooting against the Wildcats [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 10, 2014, 10:16 pm]
Unlike those prospects who play for their childhood favorite college program, Jalen Brunson ensured he will do just the opposite when he committed to Villanova on Wednesday afternoon. "It was my parents' rival school," the son of former Temple star Rick Brunson told reporters. "I didn't like them growing up." Villanova fans are surely elated the younger Brunson had a change of heart because his commitment is a huge boost for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-1 senior at Stevenson High in Lincolnshire, Ill., is Rivals.com's No. 15 prospect in the Class of 2015 and one of the nation's most coveted point guard prospects. Dozens of schools offered Brunson a scholarship, but he narrowed his list to two on Monday, eliminating Michigan State, Temple and Purdue and promising to decide between Villanova and Illinois. Brunson chose the Wildcats over the Illini on Wednesday even though Illinois has a starting spot at point guard available for the 2015-16 season and Villanova should still have incumbent starter Ryan Arcidiacono as a senior. Asked if he envisions coming off the bench behind Arcidiacono or playing alongside him as a freshman, Brunson told reporters "I think we can be on the floor at the same time." Considering Villanova's history of playing three and four guards under Jay Wright, it's probably a safe bet that Brunson and Arcidiacono will be on the floor together plenty. Arcidiacono can play off ball effectively, while the left-handed Brunson thrives with the ball in his hands. He handles the ball well, makes good decisions in transition and keeps defenders honest with his 3-point shooting ability. There was a time that it appeared Villanova had little chance of landing Brunson. Temple was thought to be a favorite to land because of their plan to hire his father as an assistant coach, but Rick Brunson's arrest scuttled that plan. Many believed  Michigan State inherited the role of favorite from Temple after that saga, but Brunson instead will go down as another Chicago-ar

Did Oregon wait to dismiss its accused players to protect its APR score? [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 10, 2014, 7:54 pm]
Allowing two players accused of rape to participate in the NCAA tournament last March was a self-serving decision that Oregon deserves criticism for making. Whether the latest accusations levied against the school have any validity, however, isn't nearly as clear cut. An investigative report from Portland-based TV station KATU alleged that Oregon waited until June to dismiss Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and Brandon Austin from school to avoid potential Academic Progress Rate penalties that could have led to a loss of scholarships and a postseason ban. The woman who accused Artis, Dotson and Austin of rape filed a police report March 13 yet the school only barred the three players from team activities after the NCAA tournament and did not dismiss them until June 23. Since the players were not kicked out of school until the end of spring quarter and managed to remain in good academic standing during that time, Oregon was able to avoid a crippling APR hit. To assess the validity of the TV station's allegations, it's first important to recall what the APR is. It basically is a measuring stick used by the NCAA to give schools incentive to make sure that their student-athletes are making progress toward a degree. The minimum APR score needed to avoid penalties was once a four-year average of 900 but that rose to 930 beginning with the 2012-13 school year. While KATU is correct in noting that Oregon had a four-year average of 918 at the time the rape accusations surfaced and was one more poor score away from facing sanctions, the TV station's report was misleading in some ways too. First of all, APR scores are based on data from the previous year, so the score that determined Oregon's fate was from the 2012-13 school year. Oregon learned in May it received a 974 for the 2012-13 school year. The timing of the dismissals only impacted the 2013-14 score, which will be released next year. Secondly, if Oregon's potential APR issues influenced the timing of its expulstions, the

Non-conference scheduling studs and duds: The Mountain West [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 10, 2014, 3:17 pm]
Since most of next season's non-conference schedules have finally been released, it's a good time to assess whose slates are the most daunting and who didn't challenge themselves enough. The Dagger will go league-by-league the next two weeks. Up next: The Mountain West Toughest non-league schedule: San Diego State The non-conference schedules assembled by San Diego State and UNLV both feature numerous marquee opponents, but the difference is that the Aztecs are much better equipped to handle it. They return all but two rotation players from last season's 31-win Sweet 16 team and add maybe the best recruiting class in school history, though replacing Xavier Thames' scoring, distributing and leadership will surely have to be a collective effort. Highlighting San Diego State's schedule is the Maui Invitational, which could culminate in a Sweet 16 rematch with Arizona if both the Wildcats and Aztecs can reach the title game. To do it, San Diego State will have to survive onetime league rival BYU in the opening round and either Pittsburgh or host Chaminade on day two, while Arizona will face Missouri and either Kansas State or Purdue. Besides their week in Maui, San Diego State has a pair of difficult road games: at Cincinnati in what figures to be a defensive struggle and at Washington against a Huskies team the Aztecs beat at home a year ago. San Diego State also has a tough home game against rapidly improving Utah and a tricky city rivalry game against a San Diego team that typically gives the Aztecs fits. Easiest non-league schedule: Air Force Here's the easiest way to describe Air Force's non-conference slate this year: at Colorado, at Texas Tech and ... uh ... yuck. The other nine teams Air Force will play aren't just no names. Two are Division II foes and many of the rest are among the worst of Division I's lower echelon.   Grambling lost 24 games last season and is two years removed from a winless season. UC Davis hasn't enjoyed a winning season in nine years

VCU endures a week of Navy SEAL team training [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 9, 2014, 7:41 pm]
To thrive running college basketball's most frantic swarming full-court pressure defense each season, VCU players must be better conditioned than their opponents. That's a big reason coach Shaka Smart has insisted his team endure a week of pre-dawn Navy SEAL team training every September for the past four years. Many other teams have followed VCU's lead in incorporating military training, but the Rams do a few things differently. Everyone involved in the program participated for VCU, from players, to coaches, to student managers to even the team's sports information director. The idea is to create a program-wide bonding experience — not just one that brings the players closer together.  "Communication, leadership, team-building," Smart said in the above video. "They always hit us with some form of adversity, or multiple forms of adversity. It's good for our guys because that's what we're going to face in games, particularly on the road and against great teams." The idea for SEAL training was the brainchild of VCU strength and conditioning coach Daniel Roose, who came up with the concept after meeting ex-U.S. Navy SEAL John McGuire at a function in Richmond four years ago and taking a physical training class from him. Hell week consisted of three days of SEAL training the first go-round. It has been five ever since.   The only changes VCU implemented this year were donning army fatigues, separating into teams of six and completing "missions" all over Richmond. They did everything from going on long runs, to rowing rafts, to completing obstacle courses, to carrying 300-pound sand bags. The reward for VCU's hard work could be a special season. Between the return of the core of an NCAA tournament team and the arrival of top recruits Terry Larrier and Mike Gilmore, VCU will enter the season as the favorites in the Atlantic 10 and a threat to make a deep run next March. - - - - - - - Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him

Non-conference scheduling studs and duds: The Big East [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 9, 2014, 2:13 pm]
Since most of next season's non-conference schedules have finally been released, it's a good time to assess whose slates are the most daunting and who didn't challenge themselves enough. The Dagger will go league-by-league the next two weeks. Up next: The Big East. Toughest non-league schedule: Georgetown We don't know the entirety of Georgetown's non-league schedule just yet, but what has been confirmed already ensures it will rival Butler's as the Big East's toughest. The Hoyas will face at least two likely top 15 teams before Big East play begins and could face as many as four. The toughest portion of Georgetown's schedule is the Battle 4 Atlantis, easily this season's most loaded holiday tournament. The Hoyas open with SEC heavyweight Florida, face Wisconsin or UAB on day two and either North Carolina, UCLA, Oklahoma or Butler on day three. In addition to the Battle 4 Atlantis, Georgetown will host Big 12 power Kansas and face Indiana at Madison Square Garden. That's five marquee games for Hoyas team that went 18-15 last season but is optimistic it can bounce back strong thanks to Big East Player of the Year of the year candidate D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, center Joshua Smith and the arrival of a heralded five-player incoming class. Easiest non-league schedule: Seton Hall In a league in which all 10 members assembled respectable non-conference schedules, Seton Hall's is probably the weakest of the lot. Outside of a Dec. 9 game at potential preseason top 10 Wichita State, it's possible the Pirates may not face a single NCAA tournament team. The second-toughest game on Seton Hall's non-conference schedule? Maybe a road game against a Georgia team that could challenge for an upper-division SEC finish. The Pirates also could see Clemson and perhaps LSU on the second and third days of the Paradise Jam, though the tournament as a whole is one of the weakest of next year's holiday events. Rutgers and South Florida add some name recognition to the Seton Hall schedule, but

Elite point guard Jalen Brunson will choose between Illinois, Villanova [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 8, 2014, 11:42 pm]
At 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, either Villanova or Illinois will secure its point guard of the future. Jalen Brunson, one of the Class of 2015's most coveted point guards, revealed to Rivals.com on Monday that he has narrowed his options to those two schools and will announce his decision then. The 6-foot-1 Illinois resident previously also considered Michigan State, Purdue and Temple, but he narrowed his options after visiting Villanova and Illinois the past two weekends. The addition of Brunson would be huge for either the Wildcats or Illini. Villanova starting point guard Ryan Arcidiacono would be a senior when Brunson is a freshman if he sticks around that long, but they could likely play together and split the ball handling duties in Jay Wright's guard-heavy system. Furthermore, Brunson has Philadelphia ties since his father played for Temple and he spent a significant portion of his childhood in the area. Of course, Illinois would even be more of a hometown pick for Brunson since he lives in the Chicago area now. Plus, the path is clear for Brunson to start right away at point guard for the Illini under coach John Groce, who has a history of developing talent at the position dating back to his days with D.J. Cooper at Ohio University. Whichever school lands Brunson is getting a player ranked No. 15 in his class by Rivals.com. Those familiar with his game say the left-handed point guard handles the ball well, makes good decisions in transition and keeps defenders honest with his 3-point shooting ability. The big losers in Monday's announcement are Temple and Michigan State. The Owls were thought to be a favorite to land Brunson because of their plan to hire his father as an assistant coach, but his arrest scuttled that plan. Many believed that the Spartans inherited the role of favorite from Temple after that saga, but Brunson instead will go down as another Chicago-area product who spurned Tom Izzo. - - - - - - - Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger o

Recruiting success comes at critical time for Texas A&M's Billy Kennedy [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 8, 2014, 7:14 pm]
At a time when fans at Texas A&M are typically focused exclusively on football, its basketball programs has provided reason to pay attention to hoops too. Two weeks after securing a commitment from elite center Tyler Davis, Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy also landed one from 6-foot-8 forward D.J. Hogg on Sunday night. Hogg, Rivals.com's No. 32 prospect in the class of 2015, announced on Twitter that he had selected the Aggies over Baylor, with UCLA and Arizona among the out-of-state programs that were also in pursuit. The commitments from Davis and Hogg come at a critical time for Kennedy. He signed a two-year contract extension with Texas A&M this past week, but he remains under pressure to show he can win at the school after missing the NCAA tournament each of his first three seasons and enduring substantial roster attrition over the past 12 months. Highly touted guard J-Mychal Reese was dismissed from the team early this past season. Then leading scorer Jamal Jones and part-time starter Shawn Smith announced they intended to transfer. Perhaps feeling pressure to have a breakthrough season this year, Kennedy revamped his staff this offseason, dismissing Glynn Cyprien and adding ex-Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury as an assistant. The recruiting success of the past couple weeks could create an interesting dilemma for the Aggies at the end of the 2014-15 basketball season. On the one hand, contract extension or not, Kennedy's job could be in jeopardy if Texas A&M doesn't show any progress and misses the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight time this March. On the other hand, school administrators surely know it might not be wise to jeopardize the recruiting class that could turn around the program by giving the boot to the staff that landed it.  Hogg, a gifted 3-point shooter, poses a matchup problem for opposing big men with his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter. Davis, a 6-foot-10 center, is an ideal complement to Hogg since his strength is h

Non-conference scheduling studs and duds: The Big 12 [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 8, 2014, 3:15 pm]
Since most of next season's non-conference schedules have finally been released, it's a good time to assess whose slates are the most daunting and who didn't challenge themselves enough. The Dagger will go league-by-league the next two weeks. Up next: The Big 12. Toughest non-league schedule: Kansas One of the reasons Kansas has captured at least a share of 10 straight Big 12 titles is the Jayhawks always prepare themselves with a formidable non-conference schedule. This year is no exception as Kansas will face two of last season's Final Four teams and participate in one of the year's better exempt tournaments. The two marquee games on the Kansas schedule are a Nov. 18 Champions Classic showdown with likely preseason No. 1 Kentucky and a visit from Florida on Dec. 5. There's also a good chance the Jayhawks meet Michigan State in the title game of the Orlando Classic if Kansas can survive a potential semifinal against Tennessee and the Spartans can get past a potential semifinal against Marquette or Georgia Tech. What separates Kansas' schedule from those of fellow Big 12 contenders Texas and Oklahoma is the Jayhawks have hardly any gimmes. They'll also visit Georgetown and Temple, host UNLV and face a rapidly improving Utah team in Kansas City. In short, we should have a real sense of how good Kansas can be without Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid by the time the Jayhawks begin pursuit of their eleventh straight Big 12 title. * Easiest non-league schedule: Texas Tech With leading scorers Jaye Crockett and Jordan Tolbert both gone from a team that went 6-12 in the Big 12 last season and struggled away from home, Texas Tech figures to be hard-pressed to make much progress this season. As a result, it's no surprise Tubby Smith assembled a favorable non-conference schedule in hopes of helping his team build confidence before the Big 12 gauntlet begins. The toughest non-league game Texas Tech will play next season is a Nov. 18 tip-off marathon road game at LSU, which boast

Non-conference scheduling studs and duds: The Big Ten [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 5, 2014, 8:09 pm]
Since most of next season's non-conference schedules have finally been released, it's a good time to assess whose slates are the most daunting and who didn't challenge themselves enough. The Dagger will go league-by-league the next two weeks. Up next: The Big Ten. Toughest non-league schedule: Wisconsin Considering Wisconsin returns every key player besides shooting guard Ben Brust from a team that made the Final Four last spring, it's only fitting that the Badgers have the Big Ten's toughest non-league schedule next season. It starts with the season's strongest holiday tournament, the Battle 4 Atlantis, which will feature North Carolina, Florida, UCLA, Oklahoma and Georgetown in addition to the Badgers. It continues with a home game against likely preseason top-five Duke in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge and road tests against Cal and rival Marquette later in December. And just in case that's not enough, Wisconsin actually goes on the road to Horizon League contender Milwaukee too, a nice gesture but a dangerous one. All in all, it's a formidable schedule for possibly the strongest Wisconsin team of the Bo Ryan era. The Badgers will be tested early and often. Easiest non-league schedule: Northwestern All five of the opponents Northwestern draws twice during Big Ten play are contenders to finish in the upper half of the conference, so perhaps it's only fitting that the team with the toughest league schedule would take it easy in November and December. Nine of Northwestern's 13 non-league games come at home and only two are legitimate road games — a matchup with Ivy League bottom feeder Brown on Nov. 17 and a winnable game at Butler on Dec. 6. The Wildcats also play in the Cancun Challenge, where they will face Miami (Ohio) on day one and either rebuilding Virginia Tech or good Northern Iowa team on day two.  Of the home games, by far the toughest is Northwestern's ACC-Big Ten Challenge date with a Georgia Tech team that hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 2010.

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