Portland v Gonzaga

West Coast Conference announces changes to tournament format

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With the addition of Pacific, the West Coast Conference will have ten members beginning with the 2013-14 campaign. The arrival of the Tigers not only helps from a scheduling standpoint, but it also necessitated a change in the format the WCC uses for its conference tournament.

The WCC announced the changes on Wednesday, with seeds seven through ten playing on the first day of the conference tournament. The 2014 edition of the WCC tournament tips off on March 6 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

The schedule for the tournament is as follows:

Thursday, March 6 

Noon and 2:00 p.m.: Women’s first round (seeds 7-10)
6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.: Men’s first round (seeds 7-10)

Friday, March 7 

Women’s quarterfinals (Noon, 2:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.)

Saturday, March 8 

Men’s quarterfinals (Noon, 2:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.)

Monday, March 10 

Noon and 2:00 p.m.: Women’s semifinals
6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.: Men’s semifinals

Tuesday, March 11

1:00 p.m.: Women’s final
6:00 p.m.: Men’s final

As has been the case since BYU joined the WCC, there will not be any action on Sunday. As for the schedule itself the biggest change is that the top two seeds no longer receive a bye to the semifinals, which had been the case since 2003.

Could this change lead to a more wide open conference tournament? While the sustained excellence of both Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s must be noted, there’s also the fact that only once since 2003 has the conference tournament been won by a program that wasn’t one of the top two seeds.

San Diego won the 2008 edition of the conference tournament as a three-seed, and they did so within the friendly confines of Jenny Craig Pavilion (their home building).

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

AUDIO: Rick Pitino discusses allegations, future at Louisville

Rick Pitino
Associated Press
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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.

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.