- Providence has struggled to find wins in conference play, currently sitting in last place at 1-8. However Ed Cooley and company continue to win on the recruiting trail as multiple reports revealed yesterday that Arizona transfer Sidiki Johnson will become a Friar. No official announcement was made by the school at the time of this writing, but once all of the Is are dotted and Ts are crossed, Johnson will be slated to make his Providence debut next December. The 6’8” power forward should add much needed frontcourt depth. Johnson, a top 100 prospect in the class of 2011, enhances an already high-profile 2012 recruiting class for Providence that includes two top 25 talents in shooting guard Ricardo Ledo and point guard Kris Dunn to go along with sharpshooter Joshua Fortune. As presently constituted Providence does not have an open scholarship, but rumors have circulated recently that redshirt junior Bilal Dixon will transfer to Towson for his final year of eligibility. Johnson appeared in only three games for Arizona this season (0.3 PPG, 0.7 RPG).
- The latest chapter in the Bernie Fine saga has taken a soap-opera-like twist. An affidavit filed by Gloria Allred, the attorney representing Fine accusers Robert Davis and Michael Lange in a defamation suit against Syracuse University and head coach Jim Boeheim, alleges that Laurie Fine, wife of Bernie, had sex with a number of Syracuse players over the years. The suit says Boeheim defamed Davis and Lange when he questioned their motives for accusing Fine of molesting them and indicated they were lying for financial gain. In the affidavit, Davis, who is also on record as having consensual sexual relationships with both of the Fines, said Laurie Fine’s activities were common knowledge around the program and therefore Boeheim had to know what was going on. “Players used to talk openly about it as a known fact,” Davis said. Mrs. Fine’s attorney, Edward Z. Menkin, quickly lashed back against Allred and the accusations. “This is both desperate and disgusting, an example of a lawyer flailing about to keep a dying lawsuit in the public eye,” Menkin told The Syracuse Post-Standard.
- Never thought you’d see Marquette’s Davante Gardner and the word thin in the same story? Well, Gardner suffered a sprained knee against Villanova on Saturday so the Golden Eagles were without their 6’9”, 290–pound forward/center for last night’s 66-59 victory over Seton Hall. This further depleted an already thin Marquette front line as Gardner had been starting and playing increased minutes in the absence of Chris Otule, who is out for the year after suffering a knee injury in early December. Gardner has responded positively to the increased role (11.4 PPG, 6.3RPG since the Otule injury heading into last night’s game), and is listed as day-to-day. Marquette next plays Saturday afternoon at Notre Dame.
- Louisville is another team that has been beset by injuries this season and their lack of bodies has meant trial by fire for freshman forward Chane Behanan. To Behanan’s credit he has responded well and is churning out a solid rookie campaign. While Behanan’s steady progress has perhaps kept him under the radar and overshadowed by bigger freshman names such as Andre Drummond and Moe Harkless, it appears the secret is leaking out. Behanan has started 22 of 23 games and is averaging 24.4 minutes per game. Despite the heavy workload in his first year, rather than wearing down it appears that Behanan is gaining steam, posting averages of 12.7 points and 9.0 rebounds over Louisville’s last four games versus his overall season totals of 9.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
- The Big East continues to find itself the subject of realignment fodder as CBSSports.com reported yesterday that Louisville is “aggressively pursuing a Big 12 invitation.” As noted here at the time, Big 12 officials met last week to discuss the possibility of further expansion. While obligatory statements like, “There is nothing imminent” came out of that meeting, you can bet people did not just show up for the free Frescas and wing dings. The Big 12 is sitting at 10 teams right now, or at least will be once West Virginia’s situation with the Big East has been worked out, and needs to decide whether it wants to stand pat or keep adding schools. If they do expand further, doing so with one additional school does not seem to make sense. But get this, the Big 12 actually going to 12 members probably does. If so, the Big East will remain firmly entrenched in the Big 12’s crosshairs for the foreseeable future. As the CBS piece points out, Cincinnati would pop up next on the rolodex after Louisville.
Fresca Fuels Big 12 Expansion, Or Maybe Not (Photo: Fresca.com)