Remember Aaron Craft, but don’t forget about the “charge” he drew

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Aaron Craft’s shot may be the defining moment of the NCAA tournament so far that wasn’t an alley-oop that sparked a rap video.

He’s a kid whose entire legacy is built on the fact that he’s a “winner” that played like garbage down the stretch — two turnovers, 2-5 free throws including two missed front-ends — only to redeem himself by hitting a game-winning three with 0.5 seconds left on the clock. And after hitting the three, he doesn’t run around screaming like a maniac. He holds his pose until the shot goes down, and then he tries to get his team prepared to play defense until a timeout is called.

Even if you hate Aaron Craft — and there are plenty of people that do — you have to, at the very least, respect what he did on Sunday afternoon.

But here’s the thing: it never should have gotten to that point.

Because the winner got a call that winners get.

With 1:15 left on the clock and iowa State up 75-74, Craft slid over on defense and drew a charge on Will Clyburn. It will look like a great play in the scorebook, but it wasn’t. Craft was late and slid under Clyburn while he was in the air. It should have been a block and an and-1. Clyburn should have had a chance to put the Cyclones up 78-74, in a great position to close out a game in which they used a thrilling, 13-0 run in a 2:11 span late in the second half to tie the game at 69.

Instead, arguably the most entertaining team in the tournament is heading home with a 78-75 loss to the Buckeyes.

This may be the most notable blown charge call in this year’s tournament, but it certainly isn’t the first. It’s an epidemic, really. Referees, who are now forced to focus on when a defender has their feet and whether or not they are outside the charge circle, are missing more and more calls under the basket. The Flagrant 1 elbow rule needs to be the first thing addressed by the rules committee this offseason, as that’s easily the worst rule in college basketball. But the referees need to get together and figure out how to start calling charges and blocks correctly.

Because it just cost Iowa State a berth in the Sweet 16.

Now, here’s the interesting question for the Cyclones: how long does Fred Hoiberg hang around?

He’s an Ames native and an Iowa State graduate. His nickname is ‘The Mayor’, and that refers to his time in the city he’s currently coaching in. But he’s losing five seniors and arguably his four best players this offseason. How set is he on remaining the Cyclone head coach?

Because I can think of a couple Pac-12 schools that would be interested in a guy that turned Iowa State into a relevant program this quickly. Hoiberg’s no a west coast guy, but he is a good talent evaluator and there are recruiters on his staff with west coast ties.

Just another name to toss into the rumor mill.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Reports: Rhode Island’s Dan Hurley mulling UConn, Pitt options

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Even before Rhode Island’s NCAA tournament came to an end Saturday in the Round of 32 against Duke, speculation was running wild about the future of Rams coach Dan Hurley.

Stay or go. If it’s go, where to?

There was no clarity, but maybe some progress Monday.

Both Connecticut and Pittsburgh, the prime candidates to pry Hurley away from Rhode Island, spoke with the coach, but no decision had yet been reached, according to multiple reports.

Hurley was set to meet with Rams athletic director Thorr Bjorn on Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. Heart Connecticut Media’s Jeff Jacobs reported that UConn was “closing in on an agreement” with Hurley but that Pitt was continuing its pursuit.

Hurley has led the Rams to the NCAA tournament the last two years and signed a seven-year contract with Rhode Island worth approximately $1 million per year last off-season. UConn was paying Kevin Ollie, who led the team to the 2014 NCAA title before being fired after this season, an average of $3 million per season while Kevin Stallings reportedly was due a buyout of nearly $10 million when he was fired by Pitt this season.

What Hurley will have to weigh beyond the financial circumstances will be his ability to win at either UConn or Pitt, should he decide to move on from Rhode Island.

Ollie – well, really Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright – showed you can win a national title out of the AAC at UConn. The league adding Wichita State only strengthens that point. Pitt, meanwhile, may be a tougher job now than it was when Jamie Dixon had it rolling since their move from the Big East to the ACC.

CBT Podcast: Recapping the first weekend of the 2018 NCAA Tournament

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Eamonn Brennan of The Athletic joined Rob Dauster for an epic, two-hour podcast on the first weekend of the tournament. It was so good that we had to split the podcast into two parts. On this show, the two go through everything that happened in the South and West Regions, from Sister Jean to UMBC to Nevada’s comebacks to Kentucky’s chances at a Final Four.

On this show, the two go through everything that happened in the East and Midwest Regions, from Villanova and Duke steamrolling to Michigan State collapsing to Syracuse and Clemson and Texas Tech and Purdue. It’s all in there.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Eight viral heroes from first weekend of March Madness

Getty Images
Leave a comment

One of my favorite parts of the NCAA tournament is seeing who comes out of nowhere to turn into a viral celebrity during this month of madness.

By my estimation, we had eight true candidates for the award of March Madness Viral Celebrity of the Year. Here they are:


He was more fired up for Houston’s success in the tournament than any Houston fan in the history of basketball in the city of Houston.


Jordan Poole is spelled a lot like Jordan Peele, which inevitably led to people tweeting at Peele instead of Poole. Peele’s thank you tweet was a highlight of the first weekend.


Having to answer questions from a bunch of reporters after suffering the most humiliating moment of your life is not an easy thing to do. Having to answer ridiculous and stupid questions could be intolerable, which is why I loved Ty Jerome’s response to a stupid question he was asked:


I loved seeing Robert Williams’ teammate do a panotmine windmill in the background while Williams was throwing down a windmill in real time on Providence:


Nevada head coach Eric Musselman has led his team to the Sweet 16, cussed on live television and gone shirtless to celebrate with his team, but the star of the Musselman family is his daughter Mariah:


He really does have great hair:

2. @UMBCAthletics

This dude lived the dream of every twitter user out there. When your shot is there, you have to take it.


Mic drop:

VIDEO: Eric Musselman celebrates Nevada win without a shirt

Leave a comment

Nevada head coach Eric Musselman went shirtless to celebrate his team’s come-from-behind win over No. 2 seed Cincinnati on Sunday.

I guess this is better than dropping F-bombs live on national TV. Maybe that’s why they had Steve Lappas talking over him …

Penny Hardaway to be named next Memphis head coach

Getty Images
1 Comment

The worst-kept secret in college basketball no longer appears to be a secret: Penny Hardaway is going to be the next coaching at the University of Memphis.

ESPN is reporting that a deal has been agreed upon. The Memphis Commercial-Appeal is reporting that Penny was waiting for his season to end with East High School before he made anything official. NBC Sports can confirm that an announcement is expected to be made early this week, likely as soon as Tuesday, to introduce the former Memphis and NBA star as Tubby Smith’s replacement.

The truth, however, is that we all knew this was what would be happening the second that Memphis formally fired Tubby Smith. Hell, we knew it a month before that decision was made final. This was always how it was going to play out.

What’s interesting to me is now the discussion of whether or not Penny will be able to handle being a Division I head coach, because it’s been hit or miss with basketball programs hiring legends of their past. Chris Mullin and St. John’s hasn’t exactly gone to plan but Fred Hoiberg was quite successful at Iowa State. Kevin Ollie won a title with UConn then fell off a cliff. Patrick Ewing’s start wasn’t great, but he was better than expected.

Where does Penny fall on this scale?

Well, let me just drop this section of a column from Geoff Calkins in here:

Hardaway isn’t a guy who woke up one morning and decided he’d like to be a Division I head coach. He’s not a former player who got bored with retirement and decided he’d like to do something other than play golf.

Hardaway started coaching at middle school. Middle school! Because an old friend needed some help.

Then he built one of the best AAU programs in the country. Then he spent years coaching a high school team.

Does that sound like someone who doesn’t want to roll up his sleeves and do the work? Does that sound like someone who is just in it for the glory and the glitz?

The truth is, if it weren’t for Hardaway’s iconic stature, he might be characterized as a grinder, as a guy who worked his way up from the lowest levels of basketball on the strength of his relationship with the kids.

I think that this is going to work out for both Penny and Memphis, especially if Penny hires a staff that can help him with the intricacies of running a college basketball program.