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
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
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.