Report: Russ Smith to return to Louisville for senior year

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There may be an early answer to Russ Smith’s decision on the NBA Draft.

Smith, who previously told the media he was hoping to make a decision on his NBA future on Wednesday, is returning to Louisville for his senior year, according to Louisville radio host and Cardinals’ play-by-play man Drew Deener. Smith was said to be going into the draft by his father shortly after the national title game, but has been undecided recently.

If he does return, Smith would be the key piece returning for Louisville in their attempt at back-to-back national championships. As a junior, Smith averaged 18.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season, leading Louisville in scoring.

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

Deener tweeted this out to the masses on Tuesday evening.

Smith hasn’t really been shown to be a first rounder in most NBA mock drafts and it may benefit him to come back for his final year for a lot of reasons, namely, ones that Deener’s sources told him.

If Smith does return, that would bring back all but two players off this season’s team for Louisville, with the graduation of guard Peyton Siva and center Gorgui Dieng leaving early for the NBA Draft. Guard Mike Marra was listed on the roster, but suffered his second torn ACL as a Cardinal prior to the season and is unlikely to play again for Louisville. Forward Stephan Van Treese is also listed as a senior, but sat out most of the 2011-12 season with a knee injury as was expected to earn another year of eligibility.

UPDATE’s Jeff Goodman spoke with Louisville coach Rick Pitino on Tuesday evening, who maintains that Smith is undecided on his decision just yet.


Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

LaSalle parts ways with longtime head coach Dr. John Giannini

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La Salle announced on Friday that they are parting ways with head coach John Giannini.

Giannini had been the head coach of the program for 14 seasons, amassing a record of 212-226. Before taking over at La Salle, he spent seven seasons as the head coach at Rowan and eight seasons coaching at Maine.

“Today Bill Bradshaw and I mutually agreed that La Salle University could benefit from a new voice in leading the program,” said Dr. Giannini. “It is difficult to admit this but I have given every effort possible for success and I have received nothing but support and encouragement from Bill and President Hanycz. Greater things may be accomplished for this storied program and great university with the approach of a new coach. I am forever grateful, especially to my loyal staff and dedicated student-athletes. I look forward to my next challenge and La Salle’s future success.”

Kentucky clarifies ‘false reports’ they did not shake Kansas State hands after loss

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After Kansas State knocked off Kentucky in the Sweet 16, the purple Wildcats alleged that the blue Wildcats did not shake their hands after the game.

“They didn’t shake our hands,” Kansas State junior guard Amaad Wainright told ESPN last night. “It’s sorry.”

“They know what they did.”

Kentucky bristled at the allegations.

“They were turned and celebrating, so I walked off,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “There was no disrespect for anything. It’s just that they were celebrating, and I was happy for them.”

“My team’s not like that. There’s no disrespect in any way. They beat us. They deserved to win the game.”

NCAA amends rule to allow Isaac Haas to play

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BOSTON — The NCAA has changed their interpretation of the rule that kept Isaac Haas out of the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Haas broke his elbow in Purdue’s first round win over Cal St.-Fullerton, but he was not allowed to play in a second round game against Butler because his brace did not meet NCAA standards.

So they changed those standards.

“With ample time this week to review the intent of the playing rule, the committee decided to provide a more contemporary interpretation, while keeping health and safety for all players the highest priority,” said Gavitt. “Technology has improved materials used in braces, so now there will be more flexibility in applying the rule as long as the brace is fully covered and padded. Isaac and other players in similar circumstances should be able to play, as long as the brace is safe for all.”

Sources have told NBC Sports that, despite Haas’ lobbying to get onto the court, he is not expected to play on Friday night. If he does, it will be in a very limited capacity.

“He didn’t practice the last two days,” Painter said on Thursday, “and when you don’t practice, you don’t play.”

“I don’t see him playing until he can practice and show me he can shoot a right-handed free throw and get a rebound with two hands.”

USC’s Chimezie Metu declares for NBA draft

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USC junior forward Chimezie Metu announced on Thursday evening that he will be declaring for the NBA draft:

This decision is not surprising. Metu finished his degree — Law History and Culture —  in three seasons. He held himself out of USC’s NIT games in an effort to keep himself from getting injured with NBA workouts on the horizon.

Metu averaged 15.7 points, 7.4 boards and 1.6 blocks for the Trojans this season. He is considered a borderline first round pick.

VIDEO: Kansas State legend celebrates revenge on Kentucky 67 years in the making

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In 1951, Kansas State lost to Kentucky in the National Championship game.

Ernie Barrett, who eventually became the school’s athletic director and is known as “Mr. K-State“, played on that team.

He’s wanted to get revenge on Big Blue ever since.

On Thursday night, Kansas State did.

Ernie was there, and here was his reaction in the locker room: