- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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1. The onus to stay eligible is on the player first, the staff second and the advisor/department officials third. But Syracuse clearly is having problems managing eligibility for the second semester. This is now two seasons in a row where the rest of the players who are doing what they're supposed to be doing are being hurt by one player's inability to stay eligible. Fab Melo disrupted the season last year and clearly hurt Syracuse from reaching the Final Four. Now James Southerland is ineligible for the foreseeable future while a similar issue is being resolved. Southerland has let down his teammates and the staff. Sure, the Orange won without him Saturday over Villanova but there is still a long season and he needs to be on the floor in some form. He hasn't shot the ball as well since going 9-for-13 for 35 points against Arkansas on Nov. 30, going 15-for-55 on 3-pointers since that game. But the threat of Southerland making 3s could be enough of a scouting nightmare for opposing teams. There are plenty of fingers to point because of this transgression. It starts with Southerland.
2. Boise State coach Leon Rice wouldn't disclose what team rule Derrick Marks, Darrious Hamilton, Mikey Thompson and Kenny Buckner broke to get suspended and didn't say what the first three did to be reinstated for Wednesday's showdown against New Mexico in Boise (Buckner will be allowed to play Jan. 23 against Fresno State). Still, Rice had the leverage. He won without all four at Wyoming. Rice has established a winning culture at Boise in a few short seasons on the job. If Boise State can stay in the top four-five throughout the Mountain West then it is a real possibility the Broncos will get a bid after winning at Creighton. I still think that win and Illinois' win at Gonzaga will go down as the best non-conference road wins this season. They both will have shelf life. Kudos to Rice for sticking to his principles to go on the road in the MWC opener without four players. I'm sure he has their attention now.
3. UConn athletic director Warde Manuel is working his Big East colleagues to see if he could convince them to show leniency and allow the Huskies into the conference tournament despite being banned from the postseason due to poor APR scores. The attempt is likely futile since there is no more appeal process for the Huskies. The postseason ban is for all NCAA/NIT/CBI games but the Big East then adopted a similar policy if a team isn't eligible for those tournaments it could no play in theirs so as to not to take away an automatic berth (the league would then only have at-large teams). The Huskies are still bitter that the way the APR changed to go four years back instead of the last two. UConn also isn't thrilled that it has stayed in the Big East (of course that's because no one from the ACC or Big Ten called) and yet can't play in the tournament while other teams who are bolting on the league will participate. UConn probably wouldn't have the depth to win three or four games in as many days but nothing is implausible with the way the Huskies have been playing lately.