UConn received some good news Friday morning, as point guard Shabazz Napier notified coaches of his intentions to return for his senior campaign.
And with guard Ryan Boatright and forward DeAndre Daniels deciding the same the Huskies should be a contender in the American Athletic Conference next season, with Louisville and Memphis being the likely preseason favorites.
“After many days of figuring out what decision was best for my family and me, I have decided to remain at UConn for my senior year,” Napier said in a statement released by the school. “I am very much looking forward to getting closer to receiving my college degree, as well as becoming a stronger leader for my teammates on and off the court.”
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Napier was a big reason why Kevin Ollie’s first season as head coach was a success despite a mass exodus from the program due to UConn being declared ineligible for postseason play. The point guard from Roxbury, Mass. averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game last season, leading the Huskies to 20 wins and a 9-9 record in the Big East.
With their three most talented players returning the question for UConn will once again be their front court. Daniels played well as an undersized four but the fact remains that the Huskies need to get more from their “true” big men.
Tyler Olander struggled for much of the 2012-13 season and it remains to be seen what will happen with Enosch Wolf after legal issues resulted in his being suspended in February. The charges against Wolf were dismissed last week. UConn adds signees Amida Brimah and Kentan Facey to the program, and rising sophomore Phil Nolan saw increased playing time late in the season.
But for the questions Ollie and his staff have to answer in the paint, there are no such issues on the perimeter with Napier leading the way.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.
Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.
The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.
“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.
“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.
“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”
Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.