College Basketball Nation: Torye Pelham

3-point shot: Pac-12 could've sent message

December, 22, 2011
1. The Pac-12 missed a chance to send a strong message by just reprimanding Arizona State’s Ruslan Pateev for throwing a punch at Southern Miss player Torye Pelham. Pelham threw the first pop and was ejected for it, but Pateev’s retaliation from behind wasn’t justified, either. The Pac-12 should have suspended Pateev for at least one game in addition to the NCAA-mandated suspension. That would have put Pateev out for the Pac-12 opener against Arizona. The league missed a chance to send a message rather than cluttering up the initial reaction by taking credit for a suspension that is already mandated by the NCAA.

2. Saint Joseph’s and the NCAA could have made the Todd O’Brien story disappear if eacch entity simply gave a reason for why his wavier to play was rejected. Transparency on this issue shouldn’t be a student privacy act. If the reason that his wavier -- which asked for him to play immediately as a grad student at UAB -- was rejected was because it was his third school in five years (he started at Bucknell), then simply say it. If it was something else, then divulge that reason. I’m not sure when the NCAA and its members will ever learn that giving reasons why something is approved or dismissed can answer questions and limit the traction of stories.

3. If it weren’t for a double-overtime loss to Belmont and a rare blip that was a 10-point loss at UAB, Middle Tennessee might be getting as much pub as Murray State. Blue Raiders assistant Monte Towe, the former NC State assistant, was pushing his team earlier this season, stating that they should be taken more seriously. He’s right. The win at UCLA was no fluke. The Blue Raiders won handily at Ole Miss on Wednesday night and head into the Sun Belt with an 11-2 record as the clear co-favorite with Denver. If Middle Tennessee and Denver end up in a Sun Belt final, the winner will not be a team anyone will want to face early in the NCAA tournament.

3-point shot: Southern Miss gets help

December, 21, 2011
1. Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy boasted that he has his best team yet with the 9-2 Golden Eagles. It’s still hard to project if that is true. But adding Kentucky transfer guard Darnell Dodson in the past week will certainly help, especially when Dodson goes for 17 points while Angelo Johnson went 1 for 12 in a punch-marred (Torye Pelham and ASU’s Ruslan Pateev were ejected for fighting) last-second win for the Eagles at Arizona State. Dodson hit the winning 3-pointer in the final possession. Eustachy said there was no way he could have predicted Dodson would be that productive since had practiced just two days in the last 10 months. “It was unbelievable,’’ Eustachy said.

2. LSU (8-3) is not a fluke. The Tigers were the better team in Baton Rouge, at least for one night, against potential Big East champion Marquette. “They are a very good defensive team and they have four quality big guys and if their guards are making shots they can beat a lot of teams,’’ said Marquette associate head coach Tony Benford. “They are very physical and they do a great job on the offensive glass.’’ Remember, Trent Johnson didn’t have the same talent after his first year in Baton Rouge. He didn’t forget how to coach at LSU after being a success at Nevada and Stanford. LSU’s next big challenge is hosting Virginia on Jan. 2.

3. The decision by Miami to let DeQuan Jones play should help clear former Miami coach and current Missouri coach Frank Haith of any knowledge of wrongdoing. Haith has denied knowing about any alleged payments to a Jones rep by former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro -- allegations that were published in a Yahoo! Sports report. Jones was initially held out by the school during the NCAA and Miami investigation as a result of the report. Jones being cleared to play doesn’t mean the investigation is over since the football and basketball cases are being folded into one. But if Jones is cleared to play without any fear that Miami would have to forfeit games, that could mean the case could be soft against him. No one at Missouri has been worried that there is any reason to believe Haith will suffer a penalty based on the investigation, according to a source.

So. Miss, Arizona State come to blows

December, 20, 2011
It wasn't quite Cincinnati-Xavier, thankfully, but Arizona State and Southern Miss became the second set of opponents in two weeks to spend at least some portion of their on-court time trading shots to the face and/or head.

It started with 12:14 remaining in Monday night's game — a 64-61 road win for Southern Miss — when Eagles guard LaShay Page drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 34-34. In the ensuing clash under the rim, Southern Miss's Torye Pelham and Arizona State's Ruslan Pateev were tangled up and rustling for position when Pelham somewhat sneakily punched Pateev in the face. The blow didn't seem that impactful, but Pateev certainly didn't like it; he turned upcourt to chase Pelham, at which point Pateev slugged his opponent in the back of the head.

You can see the whole exchange — which begins at around the :30 second mark — here:

Both players were ejected and will be suspended for at least one game, as is the NCAA's policy. It will be interesting to see if either play draws a longer suspension from his school, though. You could certainly argue that sucker punches (whether aimed at the face or, less intelligently, at the back of an opponents' cranium) are worth missing more than one game. In any case, let's be glad this "brawl" was slightly more run of the mill — and certainly not nearly as dramatic or overwrought — as the one that tainted Xavier's win against Cincinnati two weeks ago.

That was next-level stupidity. This is merely garden variety. But neither brand is recommended.