Despite NCAA rift, Rick Pitino, staff visit Louisville women’s team


There had been some controversy whether the NCAA would allow the Louisville men’s team to fly to New Orleans on Tuesday to support the school’s women’s team  in their shot making it two national titles in two days for the athletic department.

Coach Rick Pitino told the media they were denied a chance to go by the NCAA, who cited it as an extra benefit (not sure how that works). After that, it looked like the team would be forced to watch the game back on campus. Then the NCAA’s official March Madness account countered by saying the NCAA was prepared to help the team get there.

Well, whatever the case, Pitino and his coaching staff made their way to NOLA to give the team a pep talk before their game tonight against no. 1 seed UConn.

The Lady Cardinals are currently riding the Cinderella wave after nabbing three-straight victories over higher-seeded opponents, including top overall seed Baylor, then two seeds Tennessee and California.


Good for Pitino to get himself and the staff out there. I’d imagine the team doesn’t really need any added motivation to get up for the biggest game in women’s college basketball, but it can’t hurt to have a coach fresh off winning it all on the men’s side come give the team a few words of wisdom.

As for the conflict and the he-said-she-said, back-and-forth between the NCAA and Louisville, I have a hard time believing Pitino and his team would turn down the NCAA’s assistance in getting to the event. Maybe there was a break down in communication (it wouldn’t be the first time with the NCAA), but it all just seems weird.

(Photo courtesy of Louisville women’s basketball assistant Cameron Newbauer’s Twitter account, @camnew)

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

Report: Four-star center reclassifying to 2015; down to three

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An interesting recruiting development hit on Friday as Josh Gershon of reported that four-star center Jayce Johnson is reclassifying to the Class of 2015 and looking to join a program at semester break.

The 7-foot native of California is down to Cal, Colorado and Utah and Johnson is on an official visit to Utah this weekend after transferring to a charter school this week. As Gershon notes, only Cal has a scholarship to offer Johnson this season, but the family is willing to pay a semester at the other programs if it’s the right fit. Johnson would like to redshirt and train with his future college while playing against more mature players.

But if Johnson is persuaded not to redshirt, he could be an intriguing big man off the bench later in the season for a couple of teams looking to make a postseason appearance. As the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson is a talented prospect and he isn’t afraid to score with either hand. With some time to fill out, Johnson can turn into a talented Pac-12 player down the road.

VIDEO: Utah Valley’s Mark Pope dances, lip syncs with daughters

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New Utah Valley head coach Mark Pope made quite an impression on fans at the team’s Midnight Madness celebration last night. That’s because Pope did a dance and lip sync routine with his four daughters that turned out to be pretty impressive.

The former BYU assistant looks to be the leader in the clubhouse for best coach dance so far this preseason. We’ll see if any other coaches pull out elaborate routines at madness celebrations the next few weeks.