San Diego State junior point guard Xavier Thames has seen his averages drop a little when compared to last season’s numbers, but there’s been a very good reason for that. Thames injured his back in practice three weeks ago and reaggravated the injury a couple days later in the Aztecs’ 72-57 win over Cal State Bakersfield on January 2.
He would play just 14 minutes in that game, and since then it’s been a bit of a struggle for him. In an 82-75 loss to UNLV on Wednesday night Thames accounted for just two rebounds and a turnover on 25 minutes of action in the defeat, and in practice the following day Thames tweaked his back again.
As a result Thames is questionable for San Diego State’s game at Wyoming on Saturday, and if he can’t go that would be an big loss for Steve Fisher’s team. On the season Wyoming is forcing opponents to turn the ball over 15.2 times per game, a number that ranks fourth in the Mountain West.
In San Diego State’s three Mountain West games since the win over Cal State Bakersfield Thames has played in two, sitting out the win at Fresno State due to the back problem and scoring 14 points (3-of-11 FG) and dishing out two assists in a 79-72 overtime victory over Colorado State in advance of their loss to UNLV.
Fisher played him only eight minutes in the second half [against UNLV] and not at all over the final 5:53, opting to go with freshman Winston Shepard at the point.
“In watching the tape, he was not moving, especially at the defensive end, the way he’s accustomed to moving,” Fisher said. “I’m concerned about it. I’m concerned that we not only have him but have him at peak efficiency.”
On the season Thames is averaging 9.8 points and 2.6 assists per game, with the assist average being 1.5 assists per game fewer than his average last season (4.1). If he’s unable to go freshman Winston Shepard will see more time at the point. On Wednesday night Shepard played his best game of the season, finishing with 18 points (4-of-9 FG, 10-of-12 FT), five rebounds and five assists.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
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.
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.