BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – Scatter shooting while wondering whatever happened to Byron Hunt.  If that opening sounds familiar, it was the format of Blackie Sherrod’s Sunday columns for years.  William Forrest Sherrod passed away recently at the age of 96.  He is generally regarded as the preeminent North Texas sportswriter ever.  He was voted the Texas sportswriter of the year 16 times, easily more than anyone else.

He was part of the greatest generation, having served on the USS Saratoga in World War II.  He was a torpedo plane tailgunner.  At one point, his plane went down in the Pacific.  The buckle on his seat restraint jammed, and he had to cut the harness to get loose, which he did literally seconds before the plane sank.

Readers have enjoyed his writing style and treasured his opinions.  He retired from writing in 2003, so we have missed his columns for 13 years.  RIP Blackie.

The SMU athletic department announced that Harry Froling has officially signed at SMU.  The 6-10″ power forward/center is expected to be a key player for next year’s basketball team with Jordan Tolbert and Markus Kennedy having exhausted their eligibility.

At this point, it looks like neither Ted Kapita nor Fernando Bruno will be coming to SMU.  Both had given verbal commitments, and both are center/power forward types that were expected to shore up SMU’s inside game next season.  However, both apparently have academic issues.  Bruno has officially de-committed.

The talent seems to just keep on coming though.  Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt has indicated that he will be transferring to SMU.  Whitt was a four star prospect a year ago.  He had an up and down season at Arkansas averaging 6.1 points and 17 minutes per game.  He’ll have to sit out the 2016-17 season per the transfer rules, but he’ll have three years of eligibility remaining when he becomes eligible.

New Women’s Head Basketball Coach Travis Mays recruited a top player for his program.  Former Duncanville High School star Tiara Davenport is transferring from Louisiana Tech.  She will have two years of eligibility remaining.  The 6′-0″ guard was All-State her senior year, leading Duncanville to a 36-1 record.  She was named to the Conference-USA All-Freshman team and played in 60 games the last two years at Louisiana Tech.

On the football front, no Mustangs were drafted by NFL teams, but immediately after the draft, defensive back Shakiel Randolph signed a free agent contract with Kansas City.  The Waco native is a four-year letterman that played in 40 games, starting 27.  Also, Zachary Wood signed as a free agent with the Dallas Cowboys.

SMU’s Evan Brown was named to the 2016 spring watch list for the Rimington Trophy.  The Rimington Award is given the top center in college football.  Brown is a junior that has started 22 games in his first two years.

The football team is getting a boost from two transfers.  Denzell Evans is a running back transferring from Arkansas.  He has already graduated, so is immediately eligible and will have two years of eligibility remaining.  He was a three star prospect coming out of high school at Houston Bellaire.  At Arkansas, he played mostly on special teams.

Trey Quinn is a wide receiver transferring from L.S.U.  He has verbally committed to SMU after playing two years for the Tigers.  He was a highly recruited player out of high school in Barbe, Louisiana, where he was rated as a top 10 receiver in the 2014 recruiting class.  He will have to sit out a year per the transfer rules, and will be eligible for the 2017 season.  He will also have two years of eligibility remaining.

Chad Morris is busy on the recruiting trail for the “Stang Gang 17″.  He now has 12 verbal commitments for next year’s recruiting class after getting three verbal commitments last weekend.



BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – On Palm Sunday, the Rev Bryan Dunagan, Senior Pastor at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, mentioned NCAA brackets in the opening remarks of his sermon.  He certainly got a crowd reaction after all the first round upsets.  He relayed his prediction saying, “For my brackets, I picked SMU to go all the way.”

Rev. Dunagan would have had a better chance to win if he had picked Villanova, but for sure, the team he picked to win it all did not lose a game in this year’s tournament.  It’s still disappointing though, to see Syracuse and North Carolina playing in the Final Four, when those two schools had much more significant NCAA violations that occurred prior to SMU’s.  The inequity still rankles.

Head Coach Larry Brown has been interviewed a number of times in the past few weeks.  He’s taken the very practical approach to the post season that “yes” it was disappointing for the players to not have the opportunity to play in the post season, but the team has moved on.  His priority now is to get the team ready for next season and hopefully back into the Tournament.

SMU’s basketball program got another shot in the arm when Fernando Bruno verbally committed to attend SMU.  Bruno is a four star prospect; a 6′-10″ center, ranked as the eighth best center and 70th best player in this year’s recruiting class by ESPN.  He played this past season at Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida.  He had numerous scholarship offers including SEC schools LSU and Alabama.

The addition of Bruno to the other four recruits previously committed improved SMU’s rank to the 14th best recruiting class this year.  The spring recruits can begin formally signing with their schools next Wednesday, April 13.

Bruno, along with Harry Froling and Ted Kapich, who had committed earlier, should keep the Mustangs well stocked at the 4-5 positions next season.  Senior Ben Moore returns from last year’s team, though he could easily see more time at the three.  Semi Ojeleye, the 6′-8″ transfer from Duke will likely start at the four or five next season.  Inside play should not be a problem.

The Mustangs should have 10-11 scholarship players with the five incoming freshmen.  Four of the seven scholarship players in the playing rotation at season’s end – Moore, Sterling Brown, Jarrey Foster, and Shake Milton – are expected back.  Ojeleye and perhaps Ben Emelogu will return.  Emelogu was forced out of action this season by knee problems that required surgery, after an earlier back injury.  There is some question as to whether he will be physically able to continue his playing career.

The bottom line is that this recruiting class is perhaps the best ever at SMU.  Assuming all the verbally committed players follow through on their commitment, sign with SMU and actually show up next fall; the team is essentially re-stocked to continue their run as one of the top basketball programs in the country.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:  SMU named Travis Mays to replace Rhonda Rompola as the new head basketball coach of Women’s basketball team.  SMU Athletic Director Rick Hart announced the hire on Thursday and Mays was introduced at a Friday afternoon news conference.

Mays has been the Associate Head Coach for the Women’s basketball program at Texas the past four years.  He has also coached at LSU and Georgia and in the WNBA since retiring from his playing days in the NBA, where he had a three year career that was shortened by injury.  He was the 14th pick in the first round of the 1990 NBA draft after a four year career at Texas in which he was named Honorable Mention All American as a senior.  He is still the second leading scorer in the history of University of Texas basketball.

Mays is regarded as a gifted floor coach and has roots in recruiting Texas.

FOOTBALL:  Spring Training is down to the final week.  The Blue – Red game is scheduled for next Saturday, April 16 at 1:00 PM.


BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – SMU’s Men’s basketball season came to a quiet end last Sunday with a disappointing 61-54 loss.  Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Arena housed a sellout crowd of more than 13,000 fans, of which about 100 were SMU supporters.  Most of them were friends and family of players, coaches and radio announcers.  The loss ended the Mustangs’ season with a 25-5 overall record and a 13-5 record in American Athletic Conference play.  The loss coupled with Temple’s win Sunday afternoon over Tulane gave Temple the outright regular season conference championship and slipped SMU into sole possession of second place.

Sunday’s game was the end of the college career of the three scholarship players who are seniors – Nic Moore, Markus Kennedy and Jordan Tolbert.  Tolbert was a Mustang for just one season, but Moore and Kennedy have been the backbone of the turnaround of Mustang basketball.  They transferred to SMU immediately when Larry Brown was named to succeed Matt Doherty as SMU’s Head Basketball Coach and sat out their first year per the transfer rules.  They watched that first Brown coached team limp to a 15-17 record.  Moore remarked recently that he and Kennedy passed the time during games by counting the crowd.  It didn’t take long with the puny numbers that showed up in those days.

Three years later, this twosome has played SMU into a relevant factor on the college basketball landscape.  SMU won 27, 27 and 25 games over the past three seasons.  No previous Mustang team had ever won as many as 20 games in each of three consecutive seasons.

Sellout crowds at Moody Coliseum have become routine, and the audience is usually star studded with professional sports team owners, NFL players, NBA players and even a former President and First Lady.  The crowd for sure energizes the players and intimidates opponents as the Mustangs have lost just four home games over the last three seasons.

It was a somber plane ride home for the team last Sunday night.  There was very little talk as most of the players slept or listened to music.  Cincinnati was a very physical opponent, and the Mustangs’ players needed the rest and solitude.  There was a tinge of sadness too.  Certainly, a 25 win regular season is outstanding.  That’s the most regular season games a Mustang men’s team has ever won.  But the reality of the NCAA’s post-season ban was upon them.  Conference Tournaments, including the American Athletic Conference’s are taking place across the country this week – most in exciting venues.  Next week, post-season tournaments begin, including the big one – the NCAA Tournament.  It has to hurt.  This Mustang team knows it should be playing.

Instead, they are home because one administrative assistant took one on-line course for a high school player that is no longer in the SMU program.  Academic fraud is the term for the transgression even though the course wasn’t necessary for the player to either graduate from high school or be eligible to play in college.

Meanwhile, SMU watches a North Carolina team get to play in the Big Dance despite having given grades over an 18 year period to more than 1,000 athletes, many of which were basketball players.  The grades from the Black Studies course that did not meet, have homework assignments or exams, kept many basketball players eligible.  The NCAA was on the North Carolina case well before the SMU academic fraud came to light, yet the Tar Heels will receive a high seed this Sunday when the pairings are announced, while SMU players and fans watch on TV.

This week, the final AP Top 25 Poll came out.  SMU stayed in at number 25 despite the loss to Cincinnati.  It’s the third year in a row that the Mustangs have finished in the top 25.  Also, this week, the AAC announced individual awards for the season.  Nic Moore was the Conference Player of the Year for the second consecutive season and a unanimous first team All-Conference selection.  Markus Kennedy won the Sixth Man of the Year Award also for the second consecutive season, and Shake Milton was named to the All-Freshman team.  Amazingly, Ben Moore, Jordan Tolbert and Sterling Brown were not among the selections for first and second team All-Conference and Honorable Mentions.

Next season, four of the seven scholarship players return – seniors Ben Moore and Sterling Brown along with sophomores Shake Milton and Jarrey Foster.  They’ll be joined by red shirts Semi Ojeleye and Ben Emelogu.  Courtland Sutton, the wide receiver on the football team that joined the basketball team in January has indicated that he wants to play again.  Four incoming freshmen have committed to join the program.

Assuming that all four follow through on their commitments and are academically eligible, the Mustangs will have more depth than this season.  Also assuming that the additions to the team that are slated to play inside can fill the void left by Kennedy and Tolbert, SMU basketball could be even more physically talented than this year’s team.  Replacing Nic Moore’s heart and leadership is another question.

This week, Head Coach Larry Brown reflected on the season and the program in an article written by Bill Nichols and published in the Dallas Morning News.  There has been some speculation that Brown might be calling it quits after the season, but Brown made it clear that was never contemplated.

“I love what I do and I love where I’m at, and I want to see it continue to get better,” Brown told Nichols.  “I think we’re going to get all this stuff behind us and continue to get better, and I want to be a part of that.  I don’t want to see this situation end.  If they want me, I’ll stay as long as they want.  We’ve got everything in place.”

Brown has a son L. J. and daughter Madison that are a junior and freshman respectively at SMU.  “They’re happy, and it’s been special for me to be around and see how much they enjoy SMU.  That’s been a benefit to me that I really didn’t expect.”

On his four years on the Hilltop so far, Brown said, “I’ve had four wonderful years here.  There have been disappointments, but I think about when Tim (Associate Head Coach Jankovich) and I got here, where we were as a program, the progress we’ve made and the support we’ve received and the feeling in the community and SMU has been more than I could have expected.”

The era of Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy ended last Sunday, but SMU basketball is poised to experience even greater success on the court.


BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The SMU Men’s basketball team is down to four games beginning with a trip to Memphis on Thursday night.  That will be followed by home tilts against Tulane this Sunday and Connecticut the following Thursday.  The final game is in Cincinnati.  Since opening the season with an 18 game winning streak, the Mustangs have alternated losses and wins over the last eight games.  In that span, they have dropped from eighth to 24th in the Associated Press poll and into second place in the American Athletic Conference standings.

The Mustangs take a 22-4 record to Memphis.  They are still poised to win the AAC regular season championship.  They trail first place Temple by one-half game, but are tied in the all important loss column.  SMU is 10-4 in conference while Temple us 11-4 after losing Tuesday night in Tulsa.  By winning the last four games, the worst that the Mustangs can finish is co-champions with Temple.

The schedule favors Temple.  Both teams have common opponents in Memphis and Tulane.  Temple’s other game is against Central Florida, a conference also-ran with a 5-10 record after losing to Houston Wednesday night.  SMU, on the other hand, faces the other two conference championship contenders – Connecticut at home and Cincinnati on the road.  With Temple’s schedule, the Mustangs likely need to win these last four games to be crowned co-champions of the conference.

The bottom line is that this conference championship may go down to the last day of the season as it did a year ago.  SMU’s last game at Cincinnati will be nationally televised on CBS at noon Eastern, 11:00 Central on Sunday March 6.  It will be SMU’s first regular season game televised on CBS since the 1980′s.

No matter how the final 11 days play out, it’s still a marvelous season for the Mustangs.  They have overcome so much adversity to hang tough and win more than 20 games.  They likely will finish with at least 25.  SMU won 27 games each of the last two seasons, which included seven wins after the regular season.  Consequently, if this year’s team wins at least three of the final four games, it will be the best regular season record in this run, and it will be the first time in school history to win 25 games in three consecutive seasons.  Never before has SMU won even 20 games over three consecutive seasons.  They also will likely end up ranked in the top 20 in the final AP poll for the third straight year.

Next year should be a continuation of the last three successful years.  Four of the seven current scholarship players return – Seniors Ben Moore and Sterling Brown and sophomores Shake Milton and Jarray Foster.  Ben Emolugu, who sat out the year with a knee injury, and Semi Ojeleye, the Duke transfer who decided to red-shirt this spring to leave two more years of eligibility, join the four.

SMU has four commitments for next year.  6′-4″ inch guards Dashawn McDowell from Oklahoma City and Tom Wilson from Australia were the first to commit.  Harry Froling a 6′-10″ post player from Australia verbally committed last month.  Those three are considered three star prospects.  Last week, the Mustangs got a fourth commitment from Ted Kapita, a 6′-8″ power forward, ranked by 247Sports as the number 50 prospect in this year’s class, but number one at his position.  He’s a four-star prospect.  With his inclusion, 247Sports ranks the SMU recruiting class 20th in the country.

Mustang fans will miss Jordan Tolbert, Markus Kennedy and especially Nic Moore next year; but the good days aren’t going away.  The Mustangs should put another Top 25 caliber team on the floor again.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:  SMU Women’s head basketball coach Rhonda Rompola announced her retirement after this season.  Rompola has been the head coach of the Mustangs for 25 years, and has been associated with the SMU Women’s basketball program as a player, assistant coach and head coach for 35 of the 40 years the program has been in existence.  Under her leadership, SMU’s Women’s basketball team has won 20 games in a season nine times, five conference championships, appeared in the NCAA Tournament seven times and appeared in the Women’s NIT six times.

“It has been an incredible journey,” Coach Rompola said in a press release.  “I’ve coached for 30-plus years, and it’s extremely demanding of your time.  I am really looking forward to spending more time with my husband and family.”

SMU President Doctor R. Gerald Turner added, “Any discussion of SMU women’s basketball starts with Rhonda Rompola.  I know I speak for the entire SMU family when I say, ‘Thank you Rhonda’ for a job well done.”


BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – SMU’s Men’s basketball team split a pair of home games last week with a disappointing loss to Tulsa and an impressive win over Gonzaga.  They are now 3-3 since opening the season with 18 straight wins.  All three losses have been to conference foes, so the idea that the Mustangs would waltz through to the regular season American Athletic Conference Championship has perished.  They are in a dog fight as their 9-3 conference record currently places the Mustangs one-half game BEHIND first place Temple with a 10-3 record.  Cincinnati at 9-4 and Connecticut at 8-4 are close behind.

The Mustangs lost to Tulsa Wednesday night 82-77 at Moody Coliseum.  It was a game of runs, and SMU seemingly had the game in hand as they held an eight point lead, their largest of the game, as the clock ticked past the nine minute mark in the second half.  Tulsa however, had the last big run as they finished with a 30-17 flourish to capture the win.

After the game, Head Coach Larry Brown was critical of the team’s defense, though he both took part of the blame for failing to have a good defensive game plan, and admitted that Tulsa shot amazingly well, even when closely guarded.

On Saturday night, SMU played perhaps its best game of the year, considering the competition.  Gonzaga has been a top national program for more than a decade, and they are led by post players Kyle Wiltjer and Damantas Sabonis, who collectively average a shade under 40 points per game.  Both big men are taller than anyone on the SMU squad, so they definitely presented problems.

SMU trailed much of the first half, but closed out the final six minutes with a 12-1 run to take a three point halftime lead.  Brown made halftime adjustments, and the defensive stops came more frequently.  Sabonis finished with a fine game – 20 points and 16 rebounds, but Wiltjer was held to four points on the night, as the Mustangs won 69-60.

Point guard Nic Moore was especially impressive last week, scoring 27 and 25 points in the two games.  Against Gonzaga, he recorded a double-double by adding 11 assists.  He was named to the Conference Weekly Honor Roll for the performances.  Moore is making a strong bid to retain the honor he won a year ago as the Conference Player of the Year.

There are six games left in this truncated season that finds the team banned from post-season play, which includes the conference tournament.  All six are against conference foes, with three against two of the other three teams most solidly in the hunt for the regular season championship.  SMU is in Connecticut Thursday, and during the final week of the season, they host Connecticut and travel to Cincinnati.  This championship will be decided on the court!

The Ponies have fallen over the last three weeks from eighth in the Associated Press Top 25 poll to number 21 this week, a five place drop from last week even with the impressive win over Gonzaga.  The Dallas Morning News also publishes a weekly poll of the Top 10 teams in Texas.  The Gonzaga win combined with four straight Texas A&M losses has vaulted the Ponies back on top.  They scarfed all 12 first place votes to reclaim number one after the Aggies had held the top pot the last three weeks.

The goal was to make this a special season for seniors Nic Moore, Markus Kennedy and Jordan Tolbert despite the post-season ban.  The players often spoke of going 30-0.  There was never much chance of that happening, and there was a fear that the team would mentally let down after that first loss.  It may seem that they have with the 3-2 record since the first loss, but candidly, they were not playing to their potential for at least a couple of weeks prior to that to the Temple game that ended the winning streak.

This season has been filled with controversy starting with the NCAA post-season ban.  Two players transferred after the first semester, and another – Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye decided to red-shirt when he became eligible.  Add in a season ending injury to Ben Emelogu, and the school’s self-imposed penalty for the NCAA infractions of taking away two scholarships, and the team is down to seven scholarship players.

The resilience the team has shown to overcome the controversy is amazing.  The players to a man indicate the seven man rotation is no problem.  They are consistently getting a healthy number of minutes on the court.  The long season and the mounting minutes appear at times to be wearing on the players both mentally and physically.  From the beginning in last week’s Tulsa game, they looked sluggish on the court, and they made a boatload of mental mistakes as they frittered away an eight point lead over the final nine minutes.  However, they looked rejuvenated Saturday night and played really well over the final fourth of the game to secure the win.

They need to find the energy they had last Saturday night to close out the year.  The schedule is tough, but the Mustangs look to be the best team on paper.  There is still a conference championship to be won.  They need to go at least 4-2 to win it, and that may not be enough.  21-3 so far is an outstanding season.  A strong finish to win the regular season conference championship will make it one of the best seasons in SMU basketball history.

Larry Brown has made note of court storming after games as a mark of the strides the program has made in his four years.  He first commented on Temple fans storming the court after the Owls ended the Mustangs’ 18 game winning streak that opened the season.  He noted again last Saturday that Mustang fans DID NOT storm the court after beating Gonzaga.  Mustang fans now expect big wins over quality opponents.

Certainly the loss of Nic Moore, Kennedy and Tolbert will put a hole in next year’s team.  However, Ojeleye and Emologu are expected back.  Two impressive high school guards signed in November.  Another high school standout post player has verbally committed.  Those five players added to the four current scholarship players that return will be another good team.  It’s a golden age of SMU basketball.



BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – SMU’s season opening winning streak came to a halt at 18 victories Sunday when the Temple Owls blitzed the Mustangs with a barrage of three point shots to spearhead an 89-80 win.  The Owls made 14 three point shots to just three for the Mustangs in a game that was delayed 16 hours because of the tremendous snow storm that hit the East Coast last weekend.  The 18 game winning streak is the longest in school history to open a season and two shy of the school record.  The Ponies at 18-1 dropped to number 13 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll.

Almost from the beginning, the Mustangs looked a bit out of sync.  They uncharacteristically threw up poor shots early in the shot clock rather than throwing the extra pass to get a better shot.  It was a game that Keith Frazier could have made a difference.  His three point capability would have stretched Temple’s defense and opened up the inside players for shots under the basket, which has been the backbone of SMU’s half court offense.  Instead, Ben Moore, Jordan Tolbert and Markus Kennedy got the ball underneath, but had difficulty getting off their shots.

However, give the Owls credit.  They played a very good game and deserved to win.  The Mustangs didn’t play great, but they didn’t play badly either.  When the game ended, Temple fans stormed the court to celebrate a victory over the number eight team in the nation.  It was a sign of how far the SMU basketball program has come in Larry Brown’s four years.  It’s been a long time since a win over SMU was cause for fans to rush the floor

There is no question that the SMU players were conscious of the streak.  Radio announcer Alan Stone mentioned recently how intently the players watched the South Carolina game at the airport when they experienced a flight delay after the East Carolina game.  South Carolina lost that game to make the Mustangs the lone remaining undefeated team in division I at that point in the season.

Tolbert told the media last week “I just like to think about the next game, but we all know the ultimate goal.”  Perhaps the pressure of the streak was getting to them.  There is no question they were not clicking on all cylinders in the previous two games at Tulane and at home against Houston.  The Mustangs trailed for much of both games, but finished strong to win.

This time, the Temple lead was too big to overcome with a strong finish.   The Owls’ lead ballooned to as many as 19 points with about 5.5 minutes left in the game.  So the question is will this team rebound from the loss now that the carrot of the unbeaten season is no longer available?

One thing this ban on post season play has done is put the emphasis on the regular season for SMU.  There is still the regular season league championship to defend, which in reality is the superior accomplishment than winning the post season tournament.  It takes 10 weeks.  Half the games are on the road, often in front of large, hostile crowds.  There are injuries to deal with, not to mention academics to maintain.  Winning the regular season championship is a far bigger accomplishment than winning three or four games in the span of four or five days at a neutral site in the conference post-season tournament.

On the other hand, conference tournaments are money makers, and the conference automatic NCAA Tournament bid has to be on the line to make the conference tournaments viable.  These tournaments aren’t going away.

At this point though, the Mustangs are the only division I team with just one loss.  In fact, there are just four two loss teams in this week’s AP poll.  Joe Lunardi, ESPN’s bracketologist, said Sunday that the Mustangs would be on the two line if they were eligible to go to the NCAA Tournament.  The Temple loss probably didn’t do much to change that.

This loss may actually prove to be a positive.  The pressure to go undefeated is now off.  The Mustangs hold a 1.5 game lead in the conference race over Temple and Tulsa, both at 5-2.  Connecticut and Central Florida also have just two losses, so there is a race for the conference championship.  Candidly, I expect the Mustangs to come out with a tremendous effort this Saturday night when they host Memphis at Moody Coliseum.  Game time is 7:00 PM, and the game will be televised on ESPN News.

SMU did get good news on Monday evening.  Harry Froling committed to play for SMU next year.  Froling is a 6′-10″ post player from Australia, thought to be the best high school senior in the country.  He was in the U. S. last week to visit schools.  On Monday night, he saw his first NBA game, in which the Dallas Mavericks beat the Boston Celtics in overtime.  On Tuesday, he saw the Mustangs’ come from behind win over the University of Houston.  He also saw the magic of Moody Coliseum with the rowdy student section and star studded crowd.

He must have liked what he saw as he announced his decision shortly after returning to Australia.  Note:  He has twin sisters that play for the SMU Women’s basketball team.  Froling should have the opportunity to play immediately.  Markus Kennedy and Jordan Tolbert have no more eligibility after March 6.  The other two recruits signed in November are guards, so the Mustangs definitely needed to recruit some size.  They got their man in Froling.


BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The SMU Men’s basketball team won two games last week beating East Carolina and Tulane on the road.  The wins moved their season opening winning streak to 17 games and their conference leading record to 6-0.  It was good enough to move up to number eight in the Associated Press Poll this week.

Last week six teams in the AP’s top nine dropped games, including number nine Duke and number eight Miami on Saturday.  It was Miami’s second loss of the week allowing the Mustangs to jump two spots.

The Mustangs easily retained their number one ranking in the Dallas Morning News poll of the top 10 teams in Texas.  SMU again garnered 10 first place votes out of 12.  Texas A&M was again number two in the poll with the other two first place votes.

The Keith Frazier soap opera has apparently come to an end as has Frazier’s career at SMU.  The Twitterverse exploded late last week that Frazier is transferring to the University of North Texas.  It looks like a lose-lose situation all the way around.  Frazier, who was academically eligible and on track to graduate, loses a chance for an SMU degree, the chance to play for an NCAA Tournament team next year, and the exposure of playing most games on national television and in front of NBA scouts.  SMU loses a very good player, the only McDonald’s High School All American to every play for the Mustangs.

We likely will never know the actual events that led up to Frazier’s departure.  It was obvious that Head Coach Larry Brown wanted Frazier to stay.  There is some question as to whether Frazier’s teammates felt the same.  Apparently there is too much water under the bridge after what’s unfolded over the past three weeks for Frazier to stay.  “He told me he wanted a fresh start,” Brown said.

Frazier has played in three seasons at SMU, so has one year of eligibility remaining.  He’ll be required to sit out one year as a transfer so could play for UNT after the 2016 fall semester – essentially a little more than half a season, or he could choose to sit out the spring semester of 2017 and be able to play the entire 2017-18 season.  There is some thought, perhaps even a likelihood, that Frazier may never play at UNT and turns pro instead.

With Frazier’s departure, the Mustangs are down to seven scholarship players.  That number actually works fine as long as there are no injuries and no foul trouble in games.  The SMU bench has been lengthened by the addition of practice players Jake Brudish and David Nelson.  Brudish actually got into the Central Florida game a week ago.  However, the bench may get even deeper as three football players – Kevin Johnson, Courtland Sutton and Cedric Lancaster were seen in the basketball weight room late last week.  Johnson is thought to be the most advanced basketball player of the three.

Brown told reporters, “I’m really in favor of recruiting dual sport athletes.  We had two football players at Kansas when we won the National Championship, and they made a meaningful contribution.”  Brown said he needed to speak with Head Football Coach Chad Morris before moving ahead with these players, but added, “I’d welcome any kid from his (Morris’s) program to be part of ours.”

Johnson and Sutton worked out with the team on Monday.  No word as to whether either or both will be added to the roster this season, but there is a tweet with a video of the 6′-5″ Sutton dunking a ball.

This week the Mustangs play at home Tuesday night against the Houston Cougars and on the road in Philadelphia against the Temple Owls on Saturday night.  Tuesday’s game begins at 8:00 PM (Central) and is televised on ESPNU, while Saturday’s begins at 7:00 PM (Central) and will also be televised on ESPNU.


BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – The SMU Men’s basketball team is down to seven scholarship players, and last week they proved to be magnificent as they won a pair of games to improve to 15-0 for the season.  Included in last week’s wins was a hard fought, come from behind victory over Cincinnati, the best win of the season.  The wins kept the Mustangs undefeated, one of just two undefeated teams in college basketball, with South Carolina, also at 15-0, being the other.  Last week’s results were good enough to move the Ponies up to number 10 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll.  It’s the first time since the 1980′s that SMU has been ranked in the top 10.

The Mustangs also strengthened their hold on the number one spot in the Dallas Morning News’ poll of the top 10 teams in Texas.  SMU garnered 10 of 12 first place votes, with number two Texas A&M getting the other two.  Conference rival Houston (13-2, 3-0) is fourth this week, and is also receiving votes in the Coaches’ poll.  The Cougars are SMU’s opponent in the Mustangs’ next home game on Tuesday, January 19.

Cincinnati is a rugged defensive outfit.  They slowed the pace against SMU and had a good defensive game plan to counteract the Mustangs’ inside scoring, the heart and sole of the offense.  SMU won despite putting up its lowest point total of the season – 59 points.  It took an almost miraculous finish to secure the win, as SMU trailed by seven points when time was called at the 3:49 mark, and with Cincinnati having possession.  Amazingly, the Mustangs outscored the Bearcats 11-2 down the stretch for the two point win.

On Sunday, they avoided the emotional and physical let down from a game like Cincinnati to beat Central Florida 88-73.  They took charge of this one early with a 15-0 run that put their lead into double digits.  The run took only about 2.5 minutes, and Central Florida was never able to cut the Mustangs’ lead under 10 points the rest of the way.

Certainly, SMU did not turn in a top performance, but Central Florida has some talent that can be difficult to deal with.  Their starting center – Tacko Fall – is 7′-6″.  His back-up – Justin McBride – is 6′-10″, but is perhaps the biggest player in the conference weighing in at 325.  Either one is difficult to prepare for.  There just aren’t too many people of that size available to practice against.

Jordan Tolbert drew the defensive defensive assignment of Fall and McBride for most of the game.  He said afterward that McBride was really tougher to deal with.  Fall actually got popped early and ended up playing just 12 minutes.  That turned out to be good news for UCF as McBride came off the bench to score 20 points and keep the Knights relatively in the game.

Keith Frazier did not play in either game and is officially listed as absent for “personal reasons”.  Larry Brown said last week the door is open for Frazier to return, and Monday afternoon, Adam Grosbard tweeted that Brown is scheduled to meet with Frazier on Tuesday prior to the team’s departure for Wednesday’s game against East Carolina.  A Dallas Morning News report on the meeting indicates that it is possible that Frazier could play in Wednesday’s game.

Larry Brown was on the SMU bench in the first half Sunday, but was suffering from vertigo and did not return after intermission.  He later told national basketball writer Andy Katz that he was fine and did not expect to miss any more time with the team.  The condition he felt was caused by dehydration and lack of sleep over the Frazier situation.


*     The SMU Women’s team clinched a thrilling win in Houston Sunday as Gabrielle Wilkins hit two free throws with three seconds left in regulation for a 50-48 win over the Cougars.  The Mustangs improved to 2-2 in conference play and 7-8 overall for the season with two wins last week.  Wilkins had double-doubles in both games and was named to the AAC Weekly Conference Honor Roll on Monday.


BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas – Controversy struck the SMU Men’s basketball team again Saturday when Keith Frazier was not in attendance.  The junior guard/forward was given the night off officially for “personal reasons”.  However, when Head Coach Larry Brown was asked if Frazier would return this season, he quickly answered, “I don’t know.”

Frazier started the first seven games this year, then missed two because of a knee injury that kept him out of practice for more than 10 days.  He returned for the trip to Las Vegas for the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic and played in both of those games, as well as last Tuesday’s conference opener in Tulsa.

For the season, he is averaging 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.  The former McDonald’s High School All-American has been a source of controversy almost since the day he arrived on the Hilltop.  He was not ruled academically eligible as a freshman until after the allowed summer practices.  That put him immediately behind the other two freshmen – Ben Moore and Sterling Brown.  He averaged 5.4 points and 1.8 rebounds playing in 38 games as a freshman.

Last season, as a sophomore, he averaged 10.5 points and 4.1 rebounds in 17 games, 16 of which he started.  He was academically ineligible after the fall semester.  This past summer, he played for USA East Coast on a tour of games in France and Italy.

Certainly, there was a pall cast over this SMU basketball season when the NCAA brought down sanctions that included a post-season ban.  The core incident that was at the heart of the violation was an on-line course that an administrative assistant in the basketball department took for Frazier as a high school senior.  It was a course that was not necessary for Frazier to either graduate from high school or be eligible to play as a freshman.

There are only rumors as to the “personal reasons” that kept Frazier out of Saturday’s game, though there is a persistent theme that he is not happy that he has not started a game since his return from injury.  Frazier’s status for Cincinnati on Thursday is uncertain, and he may be gone for good.

The Frazier situation undoubtedly contributed to a slow start for the Mustangs Saturday night against South Florida.  SMU was favored by 25.5 points on the betting line, but trailed early by as many as seven points.  The Mustangs trailed for more than nine minutes in the first half and took just a three point lead to the halftime locker room.

In the second half, the Bulls cut the lead to a single point twice, but SMU’s defense kicked in to hold USF scoreless for a stretch of almost nine minutes, during which they lengthened a three point lead to 16.  They closed out the win at 72-58, despite shooting barely 40% from the field.  A healthy part of the difference in the game was the foul shooting.  SMU made more free throws (20) than South Florida shot (11).  USF made just eight of the 11 to account for 12 points of the 14 point margin of victory.

SMU played with a short bench Saturday with just seven scholarship players dressed for the game.  That includes freshmen Shake Milton and Jarrey Foster, both of whom have already made material contributions to the success of this year’s team.  Foster said after the game that the coaches have told them they are not freshmen anymore.  They have played almost half the season and have adjusted nicely to the college level of play.

Assuming Frazier is gone for the season, the Mustangs are faced with playing with seven scholarship players for the rest of the way.  In a pre-season interview, Head Coach Larry Brown said that he expected this team to be the deepest he has had in his four years on the Hilltop.  The depth has evaporated quickly as Ben Emelogu underwent season ending surgery without playing a game, freshman Sedrick Barefield is transferring, and Duke transfer Semi Ojeleye has opted to red shirt.  On Saturday, Brown confirmed what many suspected – that a major part of Ojeleye’s decision to red shirt was the post season ban on this year’s team.

The loss of Frazier not only hurts from a depth standpoint, but also from a talent standpoint.  He is a tremendous athlete that has worked hard to become a strong defender to go along with being a deadly long range shooter.

In any event, the Mustangs will need good luck on the injury front and little foul trouble to deal with the short bench over the final 17 games.  Saturday against South Florida, Jordan Tolbert got two quick fouls that limited his playing time to just 18 minutes, though he still almost recorded a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds.  He did not foul again, and Sterling Brown, with four fouls, was the only Mustang to finish with more than two fouls.

The Associated Press Top 25 came out Monday, and SMU is up two places to 15th this week, one place behind Duke and one ahead of Louisville.  Also, the Dallas Morning News published their first edition of Texas team rankings.  SMU is first, garnering eight of 11 first place votes.  Texas A&M received the other three first place votes and is ranked second among Texas teams.  A&M is ranked 21st in the AP poll this week with an 11-2 record.

Two players received recognition from the American Athletic Conference for their performances last week.  Milton was named the Freshman of the Week, largely on his strong outing in front of a home town crowd last Tuesday in Tulsa.  He hit seven of eight three point attempts to score 24 points.  He added nine more points and a team leading five assists last Saturday against South Florida.

Ben Moore was also named to the conference Weekly Honor Roll, as he recorded double-doubles (points and rebounds) in both contests last week.

The Mustangs are one of just two remaining undefeated teams at 13-0.  Number 22 South Carolina (13-0) is the other after number two Oklahoma lost Monday night to Kansas.  SMU is also 2-0 in conference play and faces their toughest opponent so far this season in Cincinnati on Thursday night.  The Bearcats are 11-4 overall and 1-1 in conference play.  They fell out of the Top 25 this week after losing their conference opener, but are still receiving votes in both polls.  Game time in Moody Coliseum is 6:00 PM.  It was originally scheduled to be televised on ESPN2, but has become so interesting that it has been flexed to ESPN.


BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

SMU won two games this week to claim the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic championship.  They beat Colorado 70-66 in Wednesday night’s finals after advancing to the championship game with a 90-74 victory over Kent State a day earlier.  Nic Moore led the team in scoring in both games to win the tournament MVP award.  He was joined on the All-Tournament team by Ben Moore and Jordan Tolbert.

The Colorado win came despite the Mustangs failing to do what they usually do well.  The Mustangs came into the game leading the nation in rebound margin, but were out-rebounded 38-34 by the Buffaloes.  It was the first game this year that SMU was out-rebounded.  A theme of this year’s team has been “share the ball”.  SMU was fifth in the nation with 20.5 assists per game, but recorded just 10.  They have been a good three point shooting team ranking fifth in the nation at 44.2%.  Against Colorado, they did not make a three point basket for the first time in two years, while the Buffaloes hit 12.  The Mustangs have been a high scoring outfit with an average of almost 85 points per game.  Against Colorado, they scored a season low 70.

Still the Mustangs found a way to win.  SMU trailed by eight points with about 8.5 minutes left in the game, at which point, they stepped up the defense to fuel an 18-4 run to take a six point lead.  The Ponies made six free throws in the final 1:06 to stave off Colorado’s late charge.

SMU had gotten into the finals by beating Kent State.  They never trailed in this game, and led by 10 points early, but the Golden Flashes went on runs to keep the game close.  They cut the lead to as few as three in the first half, and cut the lead under 10 points numerous times in the second half, before bowing out by 16.

SMU had four players score in double digits in each game.  Markus Kennedy and Keith Frazier had been held out of last week’s games as they nursed injuries from the Michigan game.  Both played in both games this week.  Frazier turned in a double-double against Kent State with 19 points and a career high 10 rebounds.  Kennedy played 19 and 23 minutes in the two games, scoring 12 points in Wednesday’s finale against Colorado.

Jordan Tolbert had his fifth double-double of the season against Kent State to make his case for the All-Tournament team.  Ben Moore (Kent State), Shake Milton (Colorado) and Sterling Brown (Colorado) also had double digit scoring games.

This week’s games marked the return of Head Coach Larry Brown to the SMU sideline after serving a nine game suspension doled out by the NCAA.  He said after the tournament win, “I’m proud of my team!”  He is certainly pleased with the perfect record, but he is even more pleased at the way the team has put the NCAA sanctions, most notably the post-season ban, behind them and gotten down to the business of making this a great season on the court.

This week’s pair of wins boosted the Mustangs’ record to 11-0, the best start in the 100 year history of SMU basketball.  The team next plays on Tuesday, December 29 when they begin American Athletic Conference play in Tulsa.  The game begins at 4:00 PM (Central) and will be televised on ESPN2.


*     The “Dallas Morning News” reported Wednesday that freshman guard Sedrick Barefield from Corona, California will transfer, citing a tweet from his AAU team as the source of information.

*     The Mustangs have had at least four players score in double digits in nine of the 11 games.

*     Penn State beat Kent State 75-69 in Wednesday’s consolation game.  Former Mustang Jordan Dickerson played 12 minutes for Penn State pulling down six rebounds, but he did not score.