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For Louisville-Florida, focus will be in the backcourt

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In early March, as Louisville advanced through the Big East tournament, Rick Pitino recalled telling Louisville guard Peyton Siva something important.

Win four games here in New York and bring home a championship, and people will forget about the regular season, he said.

Big East championship: Completed. National title run: Still in Progress.

The Cardinals will take on Florida in the Elite Eight on Saturday afternoon for the right to go the Final Four in New Orleans.

The persistent storyline, of course, has been Rick Pitino, former coach at Providence College, and Billy Donovan, former guard at Providence under Pitino, matching up the NCAA tournament, creating that juicy mentor/mentee lede.

But let’s step away from the storylines and focus on the court, where these two teams have one things in common: they’ve had their critics this season.

Though Kentucky has been dominant in the SEC this year and Florida struggled though a stretch where they lost 4-of-5 toward the end of the year, Donovan’s Gators have been impressive in the NCAA tournament.

After beating Virginia by 26, Florida took down upset-minded Norfolk State by 34, then sent Marquette home with a double-digit victory.

Much of the credit goes to Bradley Beal and his emergence in key spots.

Beal took his freshman lumps at times during the regular season, but has averaged 16 points and almost nine rebounds per game in the NCAA tournament and was the biggest reason Florida was able to beat Marquette in the Sweet 16 and advance.

For Louisville, it has been about defense. As questions about their ability to shoot the ball with consistency linger, the Cardinals held Michigan State to just 29% shooting in their Sweet 16 victory and forced 15 turnovers.

Peyton Siva was strong in the Round of 64 game against Davidson, but hasn’t been nearly as effective since, including going 2-for-9 from the floor against Michigan State.

Louisville-Florida will make for an interesting matchup in the backcourt, with two guard-heavy teams going at it. Look for Siva, Russ and Chris Smith, and Kyle Kuric matched up with the Gators’ Beal, Erving Walker, and Kenny Boynton.

Tip is at 4:30 p.m.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Wichita State’s Anton Grady improving after being hospitalized

James Woodard, Anton Grady, Ron Baker
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Wichita State senior forward Anton Grady received some positive news on Saturday as a neurosurgeon reviewed MRI results, which are negative for spinal cord trauma.

According to a release from Wichita State, doctors believed Grady suffered a spinal cord concussion during a collision on Friday after he was taken off the floor in a stretcher and taken to a hospital in an ambulance. CT and MRI scans on Friday both turned up negative, but the news of Saturday’s results are an even more encouraging sign for Grady.

The injury for Grady occurred during a Friday loss to Alabama during the AdvoCare Invitational as the senior’s condition has improved since the collision. Grady will receive physical therapy over the next few days and doctors will check his progress before he is released from the hospital.

Grady has been alert and responsive to questions and had feeling in his extremities on Friday, but the use of his arms and legs was limited. By Saturday morning, Grady had improved the use of his extremities.

The 6-foot-8 Grady has averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds per game this season in his first season with the Shockers. The Cleveland State transfer is shooting 39 percent from the field.

Colorado’s Tory Miller reprimanded by Pac-12 after biting opponent

Dusan Ristic, Tory Miller
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Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.

During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.

In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.

“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”

Miller also released his apology in the same release.

“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.

For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?