Jeff Eisenberg

  • Virginia's basketball team takes a stand against inequality by kneeling together

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 20 hrs ago

    Virginia’s basketball team is joining the fight against racial inequality.

    Players posted photos Thursday night of the entire team dressed in black, arms interlocking and kneeling at midcourt of the John Paul Jones Arena practice floor. Each of the photos included the caption, “Kneel for Injustice. Kneel for Equality.”

    Kneel for injustice. Kneel for inequality. pic.twitter.com/b052cwSmIP

    — Ty Jerome (@TyJerome_) September 29, 2016

    Virginia is the first college basketball team to come together to protest injustice since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem last month. Kaepernick’s controversial protest has inspired others NFL players to kneel or raise their fists during the anthem as well as athletes in college football and other sports.

    Virginia players hinted at their motivation in their Tweets and Instagram posts Thursday night.

    “Using our platform to help create change. TOGETHER!” point guard London Perrantes wrote.

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  • Eight key questions as college basketball practice opens

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 23 hrs ago

    Since Villanova coach Jay Wright climbed atop a ladder and trimmed that last strand of net in Houston last April, we’ve all patiently waited for college basketball to resume.

    At long last it’s finally almost here.

    Friday is the first day that Division I college basketball teams can begin practicing for the upcoming season. Yahoo Sports begins its season preview coverage by posing and answering eight key questions entering a new year in college hoops.

    1. Who’s the favorite to capture the national title?

    Oddsmakers have anointed Duke the favorite to win a championship next April, and with good reason. With four key players back from last season’s 25-win team, Amile Jefferson returning from injury and the nation’s most decorated recruiting class now on campus, Mike Krzyzewski’s program boasts a superior blend of talent and experience than either of his two most recent national title teams.

    2. Besides Duke, which other programs could emerge as contenders?

    3. Which conference race will be the most compelling?

    4. What small-conference program could be a March giant killer?

    5. Which teams that missed last season’s NCAA tournament are most likely to make it next March?

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  • At last, West Virginia and Pitt agree to revive their historic rivalry

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    In the five years since both schools declared they were leaving the Big East to join other conferences, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins has always pushed to get longtime rival Pittsburgh back on his schedule.

    Soon he’ll finally get his wish.

    West Virginia and Pitt announced Thursday that they’ve agreed to a four-year series that will begin during the 2017-18 season. The Panthers will host the basketball version of the Backyard Brawl in 2017 and 2019 and will visit Morgantown in 2018 and 2020.

    “I think this is great not only for both schools but for college basketball,” Huggins said in a statement. “This has been such a great rivalry, and it is a game that fans of both schools look forward to. I have great respect for Kevin Stallings, and I have followed his teams throughout the years. Pitt has been our biggest rival since I can remember and we have been theirs. The game makes sense.”

    As Huggins said, “The game makes sense.”

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  • George Washington names least experienced assistant as interim coach

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Since George Washington fired Mike Lonergan less than two weeks before college basketball teams are allowed to start practice, the Colonials had little choice but to elevate a current staffer to interim coach rather than conduct a nation-wide search.

    The only surprise is which of Lonergan’s former assistants received the promotion.

    George Washington announced Tuesday that Maurice Joseph will serve as interim coach during the upcoming season. Joseph, 31, played for Lonergan at Vermont and has worked on his staff at George Washington the past five years, the last three as an assistant coach.

    “MoJo emerged as the right individual for this interim position,” George Washington provost Forest Maltzman said in a statement. “He’s a strong teacher and he has the full support of the university. MoJo will be an excellent mentor for the young men he will lead with his understanding of the ideals of what a student-athlete should be, and he will prioritize a united locker room.”

    What makes Joseph a bit of a curious choice is that he’s neither the most experienced assistant on Lonergan’s staff, nor the coach who represents the cleanest break from the previous regime.

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  • Puerto Rico Tip-Off will relocate to Orlando due to Zika concerns

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    This season’s Puerto Rico Tip-Off won’t actually be played in Puerto Rico.

    ESPN announced Monday that it’s moving the annual holiday tournament from San Juan to Orlando because of concerns over the Zika Virus.

    “We enjoy the beauty and accommodations that are afforded in Puerto Rico and wanted to make every effort in playing the event in San Juan, but the concern for student-athlete and spectator welfare became the primary driver in the decision,” Pete Derzis, senior vice president of ESPN Events, said in a statement.  “We intend to return to Puerto Rico in the future.”

    The tournament will still take place Nov. 17-20 and feature the same eight teams as previously announced. Oklahoma and Xavier highlight the field, while Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa and Tulane will also participate.

    Of course, Orlando is somewhat of an ironic choice as a relocation site. So far there have been three confirmed cases of Zika in Florida, though none were in the Orlando area and each affected people who had traveled in Venezuela and Colombia.

  • NCAA rules Villanova's prized freshman ineligible to play this season

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 8 days ago

    Replacing Daniel Ochefu just became a whole lot tougher for reigning national champion Villanova.

    Omari Spellman, the heralded freshman hailed as Ochefu’s heir apparent at center, has been ruled academically ineligible to play for the Wildcats this season, the school announced Friday morning. The 6-foot-9 big man will redshirt during the 2016-17 school year now that the NCAA has denied his final appeal to play right away.

    “We are extremely disappointed for Omari,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. “While we don’t agree with the NCAA’s decision, we are members of the association and respect it. We understand why the NCAA felt it had to rule this way.

    “We will make a positive out of this for Omari. He will concentrate on his academics and individual development this season. In the long run Omari will be a better student and player for this experience.”

    While the loss of Spellman makes Villanova a little smaller and less talented, the Wildcats are still likely to begin the season in the top 10 in the polls and as the favorite to win the Big East. Wright’s team returns all but two key players from last year’s championship squad — Ochefu and point guard Ryan Arcidiacono.

  • Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes passionately speaks out against racial inequality

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 8 days ago

    One of college basketball’s most candid athletes spoke out against racial inequality on Wednesday night after police shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte sparked widespread outrage and protest.

    Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes began a barrage of Tweets with one referencing the growing debate over racial bias in policing.

    Racism towards black people isn't getting "worse", it's getting filmed and shared for all to see what actually goes on. #BlackLivesMatter

    — Nigel Hayes (@NIGEL_HAYES) September 21, 2016

    Hayes’ tweet coincided with intense, violent demonstrations in downtown Charlotte over the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott the previous night. Police claim Scott, 43, wielded a gun and refused to obey orders, but Scott’s relatives insist he was unarmed and holding only a book.

    When some of Hayes’ Twitter followers took issue with his initial tweet, the Wisconsin forward stood his ground and responded passionately and eloquently.

    Once black lives ACTUALLY matter, then say that.

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  • Phil Knight Invitational unveils loaded field featuring nine prior national champs

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 9 days ago

    The college basketball event honoring Nike founder Phil Knight will feature one of the strongest fields ever assembled for a holiday tournament.

    Thirteen of the 16 Nike-sponsored schools participating have reached a Final Four and nine have won at least one national championship.

    The Phil Knight Invitational will take place over Thanksgiving weekend in 2017 and will consist of two separate eight-team tournaments held simultaneously in two different Portland arenas. Brackets  for the one-time-only event have yet to be announced, but no league can have more than one team in either tournament.

    Duke and North Carolina will represent the ACC. Michigan State and Ohio State will represent the Big Ten. The other 12 participants include Florida, Arkansas, Oregon, Stanford, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgetown, Butler, Gonzaga, UConn, Portland and Portland State.

    Of college basketball’s prominent Nike programs, Kentucky, Arizona, Villanova and Xavier are among the few who will not be part of this event.

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  • Rick Stansbury adds another top 50 recruit at Western Kentucky

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 9 days ago

    In the six months since Western Kentucky hired Rick Stansbury as its head coach, the Hilltoppers continue to punch above their weight class.

    They already landed a five-star center and a trio of graduate transfers over the summer. Now they’ve added a top 50 guard to their recruiting haul.

    Josh Anderson, a 6-foot-4 wing from Louisiana, committed to Western Kentucky on Tuesday night after visiting campus last weekend. Among the higher-profile programs the Hilltoppers beat for Anderson include LSU, North Carolina State and Baylor.

    A gifted scorer who excels at attacking the rim and finishing in traffic, Anderson is Rivals.com’s No. 43 prospect in the 2017 class. He should make an immediate impact in Conference USA, especially if he can develop a consistent enough outside shot to keep defenders honest.

    How does a four-star guard commit to a program that fired its coach this past spring after losing 16 games and finishing below .500 in Conference USA? Strong relationships with the Western Kentucky staff certainly played a role, as did the potential to elevate the program.

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  • Georgetown wants to entice fans to pop the question at its games

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 11 days ago

    Georgetown unveiled an enticing offer on Monday for lovestruck Hoyas fans thinking about popping the question this winter.

    Not only will the school’s marketing department assist in setting up a surprise marriage proposal at a Georgetown basketball game, they’ll also offer a refund in case the answer is a cringeworthy “No” instead of a heartfelt “Yes.”

    Have a special question for your special someone? We've got the place for you! Propose at @GeorgetownHoops, get your $ back if they say NO! pic.twitter.com/Pb6bc2SMKN

    — Georgetown Hoyas (@GeorgetownHoyas) September 19, 2016

    “We get calls once in awhile from people wanting to propose at games, but I never saw anything really put in stone about it, like an official package for it,” Georgetown marketing director Chris Grosse said. “We tried to put together a package of the best things we can offer. We released it before single-game tickets went on sale so that people have plenty of time to plan.”

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