Gazette's A-10 Basketball Notebook - UMass Athletics

Gazette's A-10 Basketball Notebook

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In the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Matt Vautour has his weekly Atlantic 10 notebook. He touches on various topics including Saint Louis basketball and info from around the nation.

St. Louis decisions will have an impact

Conference play begins next week around the Atlantic 10. Who will be on Saint Louis' roster when it does remains a pretty significant question with an answer that could drastically affect the league race.

Willie Reed and Kwamain Mitchell, the Billikens' two best players a year ago, were dismissed from school in the fall. Officially it was for violating the school's code of conduct. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said it was connected to a claim of sexual assault at SLU that was investigated by police, but didn't lead to charges being filed.

SLU administration left the door open for the two players to re-apply for admission to school for the spring semester. The Post-Dispatch reported that both are seeking to return.

That's where the questions start:

1. Will the school take them back?

2. How long will it take the school to decided whether to readmit them?

3. If they are reinstated does it make sense to play them this year?

Before Mitchell and Reed got booted, Saint Louis was a popular pick to make a run at the NCAA Tournament. Reed was one of the league's best interior presences on offense and defense and Mitchell was a point guard who could score and pass.

If they return in decent shape and shake the rust quickly, Saint Louis could still be a factor in Atlantic 10. But the Billikens are 5-7 going into Saturday's game against Bowling Green, a pretty big hole to climb out of it they want to be in NCAA Tournament consideration.

The current squad has no seniors and just two juniors. Would it make more sense to redshirt both players for the rest of this season in hopes of having a deep veteran unit for the next two seasons?

The rest of the conference will be watching with considerable curiosity.

COTHRON OUT AT UNO - Former almost-Minuteman Luke Cothron's stay at New Orleans was a short one. After leaving UMass, where he was sitting out as an academic nonqualifier, the highly-touted forward from Alabama enrolled at New Orleans where he was taking advantage of a loophole in NCAA rules. Because UNO was transitioning out of Division I, he was eligible to play under Division II academic standards, and capable of transferring next year to Division I schools without sitting out. Schools that couldn't have accepted him as a nonqualifier, would have been able to take him as a transfer.

But the NCAA closed that loophole preventing Cothron from playing. He played just one game at UNO and is no longer enrolled there. He'll likely enroll at a junior college or explore playing overseas.

COACH K CLIMBING - On Wednesday, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski can pass his long-time rival leaving only his mentor left to chase as the Blue Devils host winless UNC Greensboro, which is one of the biggest mismatches on paper in quite some time.

Krzyzewski's 880 wins has him tied with long-time North Carolina coach Dean Smith for second on the career coaching wins chart. Former Army, Indiana and Texas Tech coach Bob Knight is the career leader with 902. Krzyzweski played for Knight at Army.

A-10 GAME OF THE WEEK - Temple at Villanova, Thursday, 7 p.m. - The Owls have won six straight and look like the A-10 favorites. Back in the Associated Press poll at No. 25, a win here would lift Temple's NCAA Tournament seed in March.

HOT SEAT? - Georgia Tech's 23-13 record and trip to the NCAA Tournament last year seemed to temporarily quiet rumors that Paul Hewitt's job was in danger, but those rumblings are getting louder again as the Yellow Jackets are 6-5 with bad losses to Siena and Kennesaw State, which has no other Division I wins. Their only victory of note was a 67-54 win over Richmond. A bad ACC performance could further sink the coach that took Tech to the NCAA Championship game in 2004.

But it might not be that simple. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Hewitt, who has a six-year rollover contract, would be owed $7.1 million if the school chooses to fire him. That's a big pill to swallow for anybody.

SNOW NO GO - Fordham's game at Georgia Tech Monday and Tuesday's Fairfield at Florida game were cancelled because of travel problems created by the snowstorm that hit much of the east coast. Numerous referee assignments were expected to be changed based on travel as well.

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