Big East Basketball Tournament - Villanova v Louisville

Russ Smith scores 28 to beat Villanova playing with a heavy heart

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Jack Curran, the New York State’s all-time winningest high school coach and a legend in both basketball and baseball at Archbishop Molloy High School, passed away on Thursday morning.

A lot of talent passed through Molloy during Curran’s 55 years at the program, including such notable names as Kenny Smith, Kenny Anderson and Jim Larranaga.

Louisville’s all-american guard Russ Smith also played at Molloy, and on Thursday night, he had to take the court in his final Big East tournament with a heavy heart. To get an idea of just how much Curran meant to Smith, take a look at his facebook status from Thursday morning:


Smith wasn’t a highly-regarded recruit coming out of high school. In fact, when Rick Pitino began recruiting Smith during his prep season at South Kent, a lot of people thought he was crazy. But Smith wound up at Louisville, and has made his way from bench-warmer to sparkplug to an all-american as a junior.

On Thursday, it all came together as Smith put on one helluva show to honor his old high school coach.

Smith went off for 28 points, hitting 7-12 from the floor and 4-6 from deep while playing catalyst to a nightmarish press that had Villanova paralyzed. The Wildcats finished with 24 turnovers, and while Smith only had two steals, his on-ball defense contributed to at least a third of them.

More importantly, Louisville advanced to the semifinals of the Big East tournament with the 74-55 win, where they will play either Marquette or Notre Dame in tomorrow’s nightcap. The win also gets Louisville one step closer to that elusive No. 1 seed; it may require a Big East tournament title to land it.

And it was Smith that led the way, heavy heart and all.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Henry Ellenson wins Marquette Madness dunk contest

Steve Wojciechowski
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Marquette freshman forward Henry Ellenson won the Marquette Madness slam dunk contest on Friday night with a between the legs dunk.

The 6-foot-10 Ellenson, the top recruit in Steve Wojciechowski’s freshmen class, defeated sophomore Sandy Cohen, fellow freshman Sacar Anim and Wally Ellenson, his older brother.

Ellenson joins the Golden Eagles as the No. 11 overall recruit in the Class of 2015.

Bill Self signs $10,000 check for KU student


Late Night in the Phog is typically a night to remember for Kansas fans. For Kansas student Jerrod Martin Castro, Friday night’s event is one he won’t forget.

Castro, a sophomore, was selected as a contestant for a $10,000 giveaway. The only thing standing in the way of a big payday was a half-court shot. Brennan Bechard, the Kansas director of basketball operations, attempted the long-distance shot and hit nothing but net.

Kansas head coach Bill Self signed a $10,000 check on the spot.