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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_

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.