Rick Pitino caps off huge week with Hall of Fame induction

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Regardless of how good you thought your week was, Rick Pitino’s was better.

First, his son was hired at Minnesota to replace Tubby Smith as its next head coach. Aside from the fact that Pitino is his son, he was also a former assistant at Louisville. Then, Pitino’s co-owned horse, Goldencents, won the Santa Anita Derby and now moves on to compete in the Kentucky Derby.

That came not long before Pitino coached his Louisville Cardinals to a win over Wichita State in the Final Four and helped them to advance to the national championship game. What could possibly cap off his week and make it better than it already has been?

Pitino was officially inducted Monday into the National Basketball Hall of Fame along with 11 other members just hours before his team is set to take on Michigan for the national title. And there’s little doubt that he’s worthy of it.

Pitino is the only coach in men’s basketball history to lead three different programs to the Final Four. In doing so with Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville, he has reached that plateau seven times (1987, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2005, 2011, 2013). He won a national championship with Kentucky in 1996 and could do the same with Louisville Monday night.

He has amassed 661 total wins in 27 full seasons as a men’s college coach. That is an average of about 24.5 wins per season. That then begs the question, where would Pitino stand if he had not gone to the NBA for six seasons with the Knicks and Celtics?

If he were to have won his average number of games over that span, it would have added about 147 wins to his total and given him around 808 for his career. He is currently 26th on the all-time wins list for Division I coaches. With those average additional wins, it would boost him all the way up to eighth, just ahead of Eddie Sutton.

He is already highly regarded, but would he have reached a different level entirely if he had spurned the NBA and remained coaching at the collegiate level?

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.