Butler Bulldogs ready themselves for postseason run with victory over Dayton (VIDEO)

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In Butler’s first postseason game as a member of the Atlantic 10, in what could be their only season in the conference, Rotnei Clarke continued his hot shooting streak, scoring 21 points to lead the Bulldogs over the Dayton Flyers 73-67 in first round of the conference on Thursday afternoon.

Clarke is averaging 19.7ppg over the past three games, all wins, and has been the catalyst behind the Bulldogs resurgence following a two-game losing streak which included an ugly 32-point loss at VCU. After the deflating loss, the Bulldogs regrouped and were able to start mentally preparing for the stretch run.

Clarke played an integral role in getting the team to refocus.

“I think we just got together and we communicated as a team and sat down. We discussed our roles, from the top to the bottom. Just tried to figure out what we weren’t doing and what we had to do. Obviously something’s going right here. You know, we are communicating a lot, and our chemistry off the floor leads to it on, and we have done a good job of getting together off the floor and it’s carried over.”

Not only is this a new tournament venue, but it’s also a tournament format. During their time in Horizon League, Butler was never subjected to a four games in four days atmosphere. But center Andrew Smith, who finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds, doesn’t think the new environment bothered the veteran-laden team.

“It’s a little bit unique because we have four games in four days. But other than that, we have played in arenas like this and we have played these teams before. It’s our first year in the A 10, but it’s not really anything different for us. We are just trying to approach it one game at a time.”

Head coach Brad Stevens shared a similar stoicism and confidence, the type of mental balance his team will need to make another deep postseason run.

“Well, you treat it like any other tournament we’ve ever been in. You know, the difference between this and an NCAA Tournament is you doesn’t don’t have that extra day of preparation. But this is why you play in Maui. This is why you play the year before wherever we played, just keep going in those preseason tournaments.”

The Flyers led by four with just under 14 minutes left in the second half, but Butler responded with 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions and started to pull away.

Center Josh Benson led the Flyers in scoring with 18 points, and guard Kevin Dillard chipped in with 15 points.

The Bulldogs will face No. 4-seed La Salle at 2:30 p.m. on Friday in the quarterfinals.

You can contact Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

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.