Jim Boeheim

Pregame Shootaround 12.17.12: Boeheim’s 900th, Birch/Brown back

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Game of the Day: 8:00 p.m.: No. 21 UNLV at UTEP (CBS College Sports)

The big news of this game isn’t necessarily the game itself; it’s about the changeover in the UNLV roster. This marks the Rebels’ first game against a Division I opponent that will come with Mike Moser laid up with his dislocated elbow and with Khem Birch back in the lineup. When Moser suffered the injury, one of the things that we speculated about was whether this could end up being a blessing in disguise for UNLV. Anthony Bennett has proven that not only does he play a similar position to Moser, but he may actually be better at the role than Moser is. If Birch ends up living up to his potential, that would mean Moser would be forced to play the three. He’s not a natural three. He’s only going to be out a month, so it will be quite interesting to see where UNLV goes from here.

Who’s Getting Upset?: Northwestern (8:00 p.m., Big Ten)

The Wildcats announced over the weekend that Drew Crawford, their leading scorer, would miss the rest of the season after he elected to undergo surgery on his shoulder. Crawford was the team’s second-leading scorer, but saw his production drop from last season as he’s been battling the torn labrum. How will the Wildcats respond? Texas State has a couple of good front court players and should matchup well inside.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: 10:00 p.m.: Cal Poly at Santa Clara

Cal Poly has just two Division I wins this season, but one of those wins happens to be against UCLA. They’ve also been competitive in road games against TCU, St. Mary’s and Nevada. Santa Clara is sneaky good this year, as they have one of the most underrated 1-2-3 punches this season in Kevin Foster, Marc Trasolini and Evan Roquemore.

Five Things to Watch

1. UConn will be playing their first game (UMES at 7:00 p.m., ESPN3) since the massacre in Newtown on Friday. Newtown is an hour and change from Storrs.

2. Detroit takes on Syracuse at 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU), which should make for an exciting game as the Titans are one of the favorites in the Horizon League this year. If Syracuse does win, it will be Jim Boeheim’s 900th victory.

3. UNLV isn’t the only team getting a player eligible tonight. No. 12 Missouri will have Jabari Brown eligible for the first time this season as they take on South Carolina State tonight at 8:00 p.m. (ESPN3).

4. Georgia Tech has been better than some people expected this season, and they’ll be getting a perimeter boost tonight as Solomon Poole will be eligible to play for the first time tonight against Alabama State at 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3).

5. Torrey Craig of USC-Upstate is one of the best mid-major players in the country, averaging 19.5 points this season. He’ll get a chance to showcase his skills against one of the best frontlines in the country tonight as USCU will take on Baylor at 8:00 p.m.

Rest of the Top 25

7:00 p.m.: IPFW at No. 22 Notre Dame (ESPN3)

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

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.