Let the blame game commence in Illinois

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As Illinois continues its late-season fade, things are getting tense in Champaign. (Stop me if you’ve heard this before.)

Illinois coach Bruce Weber says that the recent performance by Demetri McCamey – the team’s most important player – has been affected by people not on the team. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“It’s college basketball,” Weber said. “There are a lot of influences whether it’s uncles, cousins, grandpas, ministers, preachers, relatives, neighbors. They all have something to say. And there’s also the factor of other outside people.

“There’s so much clutter in kids’ brains. Instead of just coming here and listening and being coachable, it all takes a toll and maybe adds up in the long haul.”

Weber paused and said: “I shouldn’t have said ministers and preachers, but I’ve had that before, too.”

McCamey’s lackluster Purdue game (4 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, 1 for 10 from the floor) no doubt irked Weber, but the coach says it wasn’t just that. He lauded McCamey for his work on his jumper and other skills, but stopped doing that extra work once people started telling him he was thriving.

McCamey’s in a shooting slump and has hit double figures twice in the last six games. But this Illini team isn’t so dependent upon McCamey that everything falls on his shoulders. Center Mike Tisdale’s been a non-factor. Same with Jereme Richmond. Mike Davis and Brandon Paul have had moments, but been inconsistent.

If Illinois finishes 9-9 in the Big Ten, that should be enough to reach the Big Dance and most of this will fall by the wayside. If not, Weber’s probably going to regret he ever brought it up.

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Former Wichita State assistant returns as a consultant

Chris Jans, Gregg Marshall
Associated Press
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Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.

Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.

“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”

While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.

h/t ShockerHoops.net

AUDIO: Rick Pitino discusses allegations, future at Louisville

Rick Pitino
Associated Press
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Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.

The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.

“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.

“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.

“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”

Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.