Don’t expect another epic Pat Knight rant before Lamar faces Vermont

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When Lamar coach Pat Knight ripped into his team during a postgame press conference on Feb. 22, one might have pegged the move as a gesture that wouldn’t bear any fruit.

It wasn’t so dumb when Lamar won the Southland tournament less than two weeks later. Turns out, it was exactly what the Cardinals needed to hear. Especially the seniors, who Knight described as one of the worst he’d ever been around.

“When he did what he did, we could have curled up in a ball in a corner and quit, but we never did,” guard Anthony Miles said this week. “It kind of just forced us to come together stronger and show the world that we’ve got a really, really good team.”

With a First Four game against fellow 16-seed Vermont looming Wednesday night, it seems unlikely that Knight will need another epic rant to motivate his team. Lamar (23-11) has won six straight since then.

And Knight, to his credit, says he had little to do with it. From the AP:

“You’ve got to give these guys credit,” said Knight, who added that his Hall of Fame coaching father Bobby told him he was glad the rant worked, but that he should never do it again. “I mean, I was on cruise control for the last six games. I didn’t have to coach, really. It was a joy to see these guys.”

For the record, Lamar starts four seniors and three of them average double figures with the other at 9.1 points a game. The Cardinals, making their sixth trip to the NCAA tournament but first since 2000, are a veteran bunch that likes to score in transition with a four-guard set.

That’ll provide an interesting contrast with Vermont (23-11), a team that favors a more deliberate pace and only has one senior on its starting five. After beating Stony Brook in the America East tournament title game, most of what the Catamounts heard was if they could win another NCAA tournament. Memories of a 2005 upset of Syracuse still loom large.

Lamar wouldn’t be that kind of upset (or an upset at all, really). But the winner faces the Midwest Region’s top seed, North Carolina, on Friday. That’d count. But I doubt Roy Williams would rant ever after a loss like that.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images
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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.


VIDEO: Zion Williamson’s coach is holding a sleeping baby

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LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson was insane, but it wasn’t quite crazy enough to wake up the sleeping toddler that Williamson’s coach is holding in his arms:

This is peak AAU basketball.

It will never be more AAU than that.

PHOTOS: Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball showdown was, of course, insane

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In a showcase game in the adidas Uprising event in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, LaMelo Ball — the youngest member of the Big Baller Brand — faced off with Zion Williamson, who is a force on youtube and a highlight machine.

The crowd was insane for the game:

According to a report from ESPN, there were even concerns about whether or not the game would actually be allowed to be played; the police and fire marshall considered shutting the event down.

Williamson, of course, put on a show in warmups:

At the time of this posting, there were more than 60,000 people watching a livestream of the game on BallIsLife’s facebook page:

(UPDATE: It’s now over 70,000)

Puerto Rico Tip Off bracket revealed

AP Photo/Sean Rayford
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The bracket of the 2017 Puerto Rico Tip off was revealed Wednesday, setting up a showdown between a 2016 Final Four participant and the 2016 Big 12 tournament champion.

South Carolina and Iowa State headline the event, which will be played Nov. 16-19, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

The Gamecocks are on the top half of the bracket, opening against Illinois State while the Cyclones are on the bottom half, squaring off against Appalachian State.

Boise State vs. UTEP is the other top-half quarterfinal while Tulsa vs. Western Michigan is the other.

The championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off on Sunday, Nov. 19.

VIDEO: Michigan State’s Miles Bridges is dunking again

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Just what you wanted to see, a video of former Michigan State star Denzel Valentine throwing an alley-oop off the glass to current Michigan State star Miles Bridges in a Pro-Am in Michigan: