Most important things: Nov. 16-18
Shabazz Muhammad, reporting for duty
Shabazz Muhammad, reporting for duty
National College Basketball Writer
Posted Nov 19, 2012


A top freshman becomes eligible, a legendary coach retires and more in the five most important things from the second weekend of college basketball.

Some weeks produce a lot of news on the court. Other times, the focus is elsewhere. Last weekend produced a mixture. If you were busy getting ready for Thanksgiving, we give you five important things you should know from the weekend.

1. Muhammad cleared by NCAA

The news came down on Friday that UCLA super freshman Shabazz Muhammad had been reinstated by the NCAA after hearing an appeal from the Bruins.


With Shabazz Muhammad back in the fold, UCLA is force to be reckoned with.

The 6-foot-6 guard will be eligible to play Monday when UCLA takes on Georgetown in the Legends Classic in Brooklyn. This is a game changer for the Bruins. Muhammad is that good, so good that some recruiting experts call him "unstoppable."

The long process of reviewing Muhammad’s status is over. It lasted for more than a year. His family must repay approximately $1,600 in impermissible benefits that he allegedly accepted. He has already missed three games and the NCAA determined that would serve as the punishment of his suspension.

When coach Ben Howland put together a recruiting class that included Muhammad, Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker, it was supposed to elevate the Bruins to national prominence again. With the NCAA bearing down on UCLA over eligibility issues with this class, the outlook for the Bruins was in doubt during the preseason weeks. The Muhammad case proves two major points: the NCAA continues to be tangled up in red tape that isn’t fair to the players or the schools, and UCLA definitely is in the hunt for a national title again.

2. Florida State back on track

After losing its season opener to South Alabama, Florida State has bounced back to win three consecutive games. And the Seminoles were quite impressive in knocking off BYU and Saint Joseph’s on back-to-back nights in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Guard Michael Snaer, expected to be FSU’s star this season, was named most valuable player of the event but junior forwards Okaro White and Terrance Shannon have been sparking the Seminoles. Shannon is coming off the bench -- at his own request, according to coach Leonard Hamilton. Shannon missed most of last season with a shoulder injury and now he tells Hamilton he enjoys starting games on the bench, watching things develop and then lifting his team as a reserve.

"I’m not surprised by what he’s done at all," Hamilton told reporters after the victory over Saint Joseph’s, a team that should battle for the Atlantic-10 championship this season.

South Alabama knocked Florida State out of the Top 25, but the Seminoles will be back in the rankings soon.

3. Rick Majerus retires

It’s always sad when a successful coach decides to retire. When that coach is a good teacher, popular with his players, smart and funny, it makes the story that much sadder.

That describes Rick Majerus, and everyone in college basketball already misses him a great deal. Majerus, 64, was on a leave of absence from Saint Louis, dealing with health issues, when the school announced that Majerus would be unable to return to coaching at any point.

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This didn’t come as a surprise but it was still difficult to absorb on Friday. Majerus walks away with a 517-216 record in 25 seasons at Marquette, Ball State, Utah and Saint Louis. This Billikens team was built to win an Atlantic-10 championship and go deep in the NCAA Tournament, but Majerus won’t be at the helm this year or beyond because of heart problems.

Assistant Jim Crews is coaching the team on an interim basis but the hearts of everyone in the program must be heavy. Saint Louis plays Texas A&M Monday night in Kansas City, Mo., in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic.

"I think everybody is concerned about his well being," said Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team might face Saint Louis Tuesday night. "I can’t imagine that he’s not going through some really, really tough times now. He’s always been great and he has been really good to me. That’s sad."

4. Alex Oriakhi needs to move on

The former Connecticut forward, who transferred to Missouri for his senior season because the Huskies are banned from the 2013 postseason, had 17 points and 10 rebounds as the No. 14 Tigers defeated Nicholls State 74-54 Friday in Columbia, Mo. After the game, Oriakhi told reporters that Mizzou coach Frank Haith has helped restore his confidence. In the process, Oriakhi took yet another shot at Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun and the UConn coaching staff.


Focus on the game, Alex. Missouri needs you.

It’s no secret Oriakhi wasn’t getting along with the coaching staff in his final season with the Huskies. Oriakhi and his father made that clear in comments after the season. But when does the point come that Oriakhi just moves on?

"I think coach Haith and this coaching staff are just doing a great job of giving me confidence," Oriakhi said. "The most important thing, he's let me play through my mistakes. That's something I wasn't able to do last year."

Oriakhi made a lot of mistakes last year and never meshed with big man Andre Drummond. And Calhoun had a quick hook. The facts are known. It’s time for Oriakhi to put his UConn days behind him so that he may focus on becoming a better player and help Missouri with the tall task of contending in the SEC.

5. Coach Tad Boyle has Colorado pointed in the right direction

The improvement couldn’t happen overnight, but it's obvious the Buffaloes are making significant and steady progress under Boyle. Colorado sent out a reminder to everyone with a 60-58 victory over No. 16 Baylor Friday in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic and then defeated Murray State for the championship Sunday night.

Excitement is building in Boulder. Record season tickets sales have been recorded and Boyle’s young team figures to be embraced even more with a 4-0 record out of the game. The Buffaloes have knocked off Wofford, and Dayton, in addition to Baylor –- a Big 12 team that had impressed and is expected to challenge Kansas for its conference championship.

You might say the victory was a bit of payback for Baylor’s victory over Colorado in the third round of the NCAA Tournament last season. The Pac-12 could be another beneficiary of Colorado’s improved play, as the league tries to improve its image after a disappointing season in 2011-12.

Many have tried to tap Colorado’s resources over the years. It appears Boyle might be the guy who finally gets the job done.





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