JMU star suspended for first half tonight

James Madison leading scorer and rebounder Rayshawn Goins has waited his whole life to play in the NCAA tournament, and now he’s going to have to wait an extra 20 minutes.

Dukes coach Matt Brady, who has JMU in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1994, announced Tuesday he was suspending Goins for the first half of tonight’s First Four game against Long Island-Brooklyn after the senior forward was arrested over the weekend.

The school says the suspension is in accordance with JMU policy.

“It’s just a blip on the radar screen,” Brady said. “We’re not going to let it impact our team, our performance or certainly our mindset. It will impact on who’s on the court the first 20 minutes, but no matter how we play, it’s not going to impact our team.”

Senior guard Devon Moore disagreed.

“It’s definitely going to affect us because we play through him,” Moore said. “So it’s going to be hard for the first half not having him.”

Goins was arrested Sunday on charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing justice after police were called to break up a party. Goins reportedly shouted obscenities at the police and was inciting the crowd.

Favorite fan: The players and coaching staff from Long Island-Brooklyn don’t expect to have a throng of supporters at UD Arena tonight, but the Blackbirds won’t miss any of their regular fans any more than Lodell Francis.

Actually, the team views Francis, an 8-year-old boy suffering from sickle cell anemia, as more of a teammate.

“He joined the team in the beginning of the year, and he’s been a brother ever since,” said Jamal Olasewere, a senior forward who leads the team in scoring at 18.9 points per game. “He’s a great guy, very joyful even though he’s dealing with this strong threat.”

The Blackbirds have a program called Team Impact, where children have the ability to be a part of the program as long as they want, and the players and coaches threw Francis a big party to welcome him in September. But he wasn’t able to make the trip to Dayton.

“He’s awesome,” added LIU-Brooklyn coach Jack Perri said. “He has to go to the hospital and have these blood transfusions, which is really difficult for an 8-year-old.

“He comes to practices after school,” Perri added. “He’ll do team meals with us. He spends a lot of time around our guys. Our guys love him, and they embrace him.”

Double-decade drought: For the second night in a row a team will be making its first NCAA tournament appearance in more than two decades.

Middle Tennessee State ended a 29-year drought in Tuesday’s late game against St. Mary’s, and tonight La Salle will snap a 21-year dry spell.

“When I walked into class, they gave me a standing ovation,” Explorers junior guard Tyreek Duren said. “Every class I went to they were saying how excited they were to finally have La Salle back in the tournament.”

The program made it to the national championship game in back-to-back years in the 1950s, beating Bradley for the title 1954 and finishing runner-up to San Francisco 1955. La Salle’s last victory was in 1990 when the Explorers beat Southern Mississippi.

Import strategy: The Boise State roster features two players from Australia, one from Serbia, one from Latvia and 10 from America, representing nine different states.

“The international kids, the Aussies that we’ve got, they came from the Institute of Sport. Their basketball skill was really advanced,” Broncos coach Leon Rice. “They know how to play in a system kind of like what we’re playing, where the ball moves really easily and they make each other better.

“I think it’s not just a national name now, it’s an international name,” Rice added. “With our football program, that’s how Boise State University was known. There’s probably not a lot of places in the world that you can go and mention the blue turf and they don’t know what you’re talking about. I think everybody knows about that. And with the internet now, these kids, they follow everything.”

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