Aki Thomas

Aki Thomas drops interim tag, gets UMBC job permanently


Well, there’s now one team that doesn’t have to worry about who will be coaching their program next year.

After taking over just two days before practice started for the 2012-13 season, Aki Thomas led Maryland-Baltimore County to a 7-22 record and a 5-11 mark in the America East Conference as interim head coach. That was good enough for Athletic Director Dr. Charles Brown, who officially removed the interim tag and gave Thomas the full-time gig on Monday.

“I have been impressed with Coach Thomas’ basketball acumen, as well as his positive approach with our student-athletes,” Dr. Brown said in a statement on the team’s website. “He has all the tools to be an outstanding head coach.”

Both the seven overall wins and five conference wins were the most for the Retrievers since the program went 15-17 overall and 7-9 in conference during the 2008-09 season. The program made its one and only trip to the NCAA Tournament the season before in 2007-08, winning the America East Conference tournament.

Thomas had spent the past three seasons as an assistant for UMBC before being named the interim coach. He spend three previous seasons as an assistant at Howard from 2004-07.

It’s a good thing for the program to have stability. It’ll help in recruiting, fund-raising and various other aspects over the off-season, whenever that comes for UMBC.

The Retrievers, who earned the no. 6 seed in the America East tournament, will play no. 3 seed Hartford in the first round at 2 p.m. Saturday in Albany, N.Y.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

Louisville’s Rick Pitino on allegations: ‘We will get through this’

Rick Pitino
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville coach Rick Pitino remains defiant that his program will survive the allegations in a book by an escort alleging that former Cardinals staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

Pitino said Tuesday that the Cardinals “will get through this the right way.”

The coach told a packed room at a tipoff luncheon that he understands the motivation behind Katina Powell’s book “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” but questions the need for the alleged activities given the talent his program has produced.

Pitino added, “We will find out the truth, whatever it may be, and those responsible will pay the price.”

Georgia Tech lands Class of 2016 guard

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Georgia Tech picked up its third Class of 2016 commitment on Tuesday as the Yellow Jackets landed a pledged from three-star guard Josh Okogie.

The 6-foot-4 guard is considered the No. 143 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016 rankings and Okogie played with a very talented Team CP3 in the Nike EYBL. In 22 games this spring and summer, Okogie averaged 10.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 45 percent from the field.

Okogie joins three-star wing Christian Matthews and four-star big man Romello White in head coach Brian Gregory’s Class of 2016 at Georgia Tech. The group is definitely a solid influx of talent with some coming from successful grassroots programs.