No. 1 seed Gonzaga dodged a bullet.
With four minutes left in their opening round game against No. 16 Southern, the Zags were tied at 54 with the Jaguars of the SWAC. For those that don’t know, a No. 1 seed has never, ever lost to a No. 16 seed. Ever. This was the brink of something historic.
And then Kevin Pangos hit a jumper. And Gary Bell hit a three that was set up by Pangos. And then Pangos his a three from deep in the corner, giving Gonzaga a 62-58 lead with just over a minute left.
That was enough, as Gonzaga held on to beat Southern 64-58.
But it certainly wasn’t a statement win by any stretch of the imagination.
So here’s the question you need to ask: Was this a sign of things to come, or was this simply a case of Gonzaga strugglingly under the pressure of being a No. 1 seed out of the WCC? Because I’ll be honest, with the exception of Kelly Olynyk — who scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half — and Pangos, the Zags looked terrified and hesitant on Thursday.
They didn’t look like the team that I watched this season, the one that I thought had as good of a chance to win the national title as anyone and that I picked to make it all the way to the title game. And the most important thing for the Zags to do is to get this game out of their mind as quickly as possible.
Everyone is entitled to one rough night in this tournament. There’s a reason it’s called “survive and advance”.
And luckily, Gonzaga survived.
Because a loss would have set mid-major basketball back a decade.
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You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
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.
Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.
Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.
Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.