VCU advances to Elite Eight in wacky statistical game

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I’m not really a numbers guy, but it’s something I’ve had to learn to love as a means of defending arguments and staying abreast of how to best assess teams during the season.

Close throughout, Florida State and Virginia Commonwealth offered one of the wackiest basic and advanced statistic box scores, as both teams clawed their way though 45 minutes of play leveraging entirely different strengths that their players possess. In the end, it was the Rams prevailing in overtime 72-71, meaning Kyle Whelliston is going to bed dreaming of the potential for the most magical of mid-major match-ups in Houston.

As cool as it sounds – Butler against VCU for the right to play in the national championship game – I’m here to quickly shoot that down, as I can confidently say that neither VCU really has a chance against Kansas on Sunday – nor would the Seminoles.

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So let’s dive into this laundry list of strange but true statistics from this Sweet 16 thriller:

  • At the end of the first half, the Seminoles had attempted 19 more field goals than the Rams. They were still down five.
  • Struggling to find any sort of rhythm on offense, only 27 percent of the Seminoles made baskets were assisted on. To put that in perspective, Utah was last in the country in Assist Percentage this season… at 40 percent.
  • Following each of the 21 offensive rebounds the Seminoles pulled down, they shot 8-18 in second chance opportunities. Those extra points were vital.
  • Posting an impressive 56.6 eFG percentage, the Rams were unable to pull away from FSU because of (conversely) a limited second chance opportunities. The Seminoles grabbed 79 percent of the available defensive rebounds.
  • Just a tick under half of VCU’s shots were from beyond the arc. Bradford Burgess converted on 6 of 7 long balls, and he’s now shooting 73 percent (11-15) in the past three games.
  • Derwin Kitchen led all Seminoles with 23 points, but was 0 of 3 in wise decisions made with the clock approaching zero. Kitchen had the ball in his hands at the end of the first half, second half, and OT, all which resulted in fumbled opportunities with no good looks at the basket. Not quite for the KenPom minions, but still noteworthy.

In short, this was a weird game.

I love what Shaka Smart and his club have done for the past two weeks. Shooting the lights out, sticking it to the talking heads, and continuing the trend that the CAA is not just a mid-major, it’s a formidable athletic conference that’s worthy of being a multi-bid league each and every year. I just think a pumpkin awaits them outside of the Alamo Dome on Sunday.

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.


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.