Jerry Tarkanian

Supporters of Jerry Tarkanian hold out hope for Hall of Fame induction

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Jerry Tarkanian was one of the most successful head coaches in the history of college basketball, as he won 729 games in his 31 seasons and won 78.4% of his games. But he was also a controversial figure, as his battle with the NCAA went years and cost millions of dollars in legal fees.

The toll wasn’t felt solely in a financial sense either, because even with the insistence that the critiques of many didn’t bother him Tarkanian and his family were hurt by what came with the territory.

“I don’t think people realize how much it all hurt,” his wife Lois said in a story in today’s New York Times. “He says he never cared what people said, but he did. They broke his heart. All of it broke his heart.”

Now 82 years old and not in the best of health the question these days is whether or not Tarkanian can make a run at the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, but given the history with the NCAA it’s been difficult for his candidacy to gain any traction.

But that’s not to say that he doesn’t have his supporters either.

“There is no doubt that his legacy has been absolutely set aside and is always looked at in terms of NCAA investigations,” [ESPN analyst Dick] Vitale says. “I think that’s sad in many ways.”

[Former UNLV point guard Greg] Anthony, not surprisingly, strongly believes Tarkanian should be in the Hall of Fame, and [ESPN analyst Jay] Bilas says flatly: “I think it’s a no-brainer that he should be in the Hall of Fame. I don’t claim to understand how everything works, but if you look at who is in the Hall of Fame, he meets and exceeds those standards.”

The numbers don’t lie in regards to his coaching career, as Tarkanian’s winning percentage ranks among the the best to have ever patrolled the sidelines. But it’s the one “game” that took the most out of him, even with the receipt of a $2.5 million settlement, that serves as a roadblock to this very day.

College basketball’s “Father Flanagan” needs the Hall of Fame voters to give him a second chance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if they’re willing to do so.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

VIDEO: Winthrop’s Keon Johnson goes coast-to-coast for buzzer-beater

Winthrop's Keon Johnson (5) shoots a layup while defended by Coastal Carolina's Warren Gillis during the first half of the Big South Conference Championship college basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Conway, S.C. Coastal Carolina won 81-70. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
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Winthop earned a Big South road win at Radford on Saturday afternoon as junior guard Keon Johnson raced coast-to-coast and buried the game-winner at the buzzer.

The 5-foot-7 Johnson erupted for 32 points in the win and he’s been one of the most potent mid-major scorers in the country this season. The win moves Winthrop to 18-7 on the season and their 10-4 mark in the Big South ties them with UNC Asheville atop the conference standings.

(H/T: LiveonASN)

After blowout of South Carolina, is No. 22 Kentucky a Final Four contender?

Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis (3) guards the ball after a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Auburn, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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It only took 2:26 for official Doug Sirmons to plant two technical fouls on Kentucky head coach John Calipari, and that may have been the worst thing that could have happened to South Carolina.

He poked the bear, and the result was that a ticked off No. 22 Wildcat team proceeded to run the Gamecocks out of their own gym, 89-62.

The star of the show was interim head coach Tyler Ulis, who put together as dominating of a performance as you’ll ever see out of a player that stands 5-foot-9. Ulis finished with 27 points and 12 assists, hitting 4-for-8 from three and turning the ball over just once.

Marcus Lee added 11 points and 13 boards, including six on the offensive end, and Jamal Murray had his customary 26 points on 9-for-21 shooting, but the story of this game was Ulis.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seed a player under 6-foot capable of dominating a game the way that Ulis can dominate. Murray can take over with the best of them — we saw it against Florida and Ohio State — but when it comes to the NCAA tournament, this Kentucky team will go as far as Ulis carries them.

And based on the way that he’s played in the last six weeks, that could end up being pretty far. In SEC play, Ulis is averaging 19.4 points and 7.6 assists. He’s scored at least 17 points in 12 of the last 14 games and has notched as least five assists in all 14. He just orchestrated a total mollywhopping of a Frank Martin-coached team that was tied for first place in the SEC while playing without his head coach and on the road.

The issue with Kentucky is the same today as it was a month ago. They’re a two-man team with an inconsistent supporting cast. When their two studs play like this, they can beat anyone in the country. When they don’t, they can struggle against anyone.

But here’s the thing: When Ulis is playing the way that he’s played of late, they don’t really need all that much from their supporting cast. Derek Willis needs to be able to space the floor. Lee and Skal Labissiere need to be able to hold their own against opposing big men.

And when that happens?

Kentucky is clearly the best team in the SEC and good enough to be able to win four straight in the Big Dance and get to a Final Four.