Pregame Shootaround 1.1.13: Connecticut-Marquette tips off 2013

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Each day, CollegeBasketballTalk brings you the “Pregame Shootaround,” which will lay out a preview for the slate of games that night. We’ll take a look at some key match-ups and important games, as well as make some predictions and point out what you need to watch for. Take a look below at today’s edition:

Note: The weekend editions of Pregame Shootaround will be published half an hour prior to tip-off of the day’s first game.

Game of the Day: Connecticut vs. Marquette (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
The college sports landscape will be dominated by college football on Tuesday, but Connecticut-Marquette provides a nice college basketball nightcap.

As Big East play gets underway, the focus for Connecticut will be where it has had success all year–the backcourt. Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier make up a duo that accounts for a large chunk of the Huskies’ scoring. Freshman Omar Calhoun has also given a boost, showing that he can be a legitimate third scoring option.

For Marquette, scoring has been about balance. The Golden Eagles are working Todd Mayo into the rotation since he returned Dec. 22 against LSU. Vander Blue and forward Davante Gardner have both boosted their output since Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder left the program after last season.

Mid-Major Matchup of the Day: Stony Brook vs. Manhattan (2:00 p.m. ET)

By staying close until late with Maryland and nearly upsetting Seton Hall, Stony Brook showed that it will be a force in the America East this season. Guards Anthony Jackson and Dave Coley form a good inside-outside combo with freshman forward Jameel Warney. Warney chose Stony Brook and became a focal point from his first day on campus.

Already averaging 11.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, he can only improve.

Manhattan has struggled to a 3-8 start this season, but New York native Rhamel Brown is coming off a 25-point, nine-rebound performance against Columbia.

Five Things to Watch

1. Head coach Kevin Ollie is 1-0 since signing a long-term deal with Connecticut. Will stability help the Huskies continue their early season success?

2. The national focus has shifted away from Iowa State since Royce White headed to the NBA draft, but the Cyclones are off to a 9-3 start and are in the nation’s Top 10 in scoring and rebounding.

3. Maryland has won 11 straight games since losing to Kentucky to open the season. They tip against IUPUI at 3:00 p.m. ET.

4. Clemson hit a speed bump on the road against Coastal Carolina on Dec. 19, but face Citadel Tuesday at home.

5. Hofstra is working with a short bench due to injury and suspension, which hasn’t made the early schedule any easier. They face Florida Atlantic on Tuesday.

Top 25 Games

No Top 25 games

Other Notable Games

IUPUI vs. Maryland (3:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)
Yale vs. Iowa State (1:00 p.m. ET)
Citadel vs. Clemson (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

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

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.