With all due respect to Air Force and Boise State, there are really four teams that have set themselves apart for the pack in the Mountain West race: UNLV, San Diego State, Colorado State and New Mexico.
Only one of those four teams has won a road game against the top four in the MWC. That was UNLV, when they picked up an 82-75 win at SDSU back in January. UNLV also happens to be one of the teams that is the most notorious for their inability to win on the road, and not just in the MWC. Nationally.
That’s really all you need to know about the MWC this season.
And that’s what you need to keep in mind when you hear about No. 22 Colorado State’s loss at the Thomas & Mack Center on Wednesday night.
Yes, there were some positive signs for the Rebels. A team that has had a bad habit of getting beaten up in the paint, the Rebels went all Waka Flocka on Colorado State, who just so happens to have one of the biggest and most powerful front lines in the country. They’ve shown an increased aptitude for making smart passes and taking fewer dumb shots. They didn’t wilt in the second half when the Rams completely erased a 13 point lead. Anthony Marshall was able to shake off a tough shooting night and hit the game-winner.
UNLV’s hopes of winning the league vanished long ago, but they’re still going to be in the NCAA tournament and they still have the talent to make some noise in the Big Dance.
Tonight’s performance was a step in the right direction. Now let’s see them do it on the road.
It’s worth noting that, as far as the Rams are concerned, this loss put them behind the eight-ball in terms of winning the Mountain West title outright. They will have a chance to host conference leader New Mexico on Saturday, a game that should be one of the best of the weekend.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
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.