Dick Vitale, Richard Phelps

Former Notre Dame head coach Digger Phelps now cancer-free

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Just over two months after announcing that he had been diagnosed with bladder cancer, former Notre Dame head coach and current ESPN commentator Digger Phelps learned on Monday that he’s now cancer-free.

The good news came on the heels of Phelps’ completion of a six-week treatment program, and it was a great early present for the coach as he’ll celebrate his 72nd birthday Thursday. This marks the second time in three years that Phelps has beaten cancer, as he had to deal with prostate cancer in 2010.

One day after finding out the good news, Phelps made sure to thank Notre Dame president emeritus Rev. Theodore Hesburg, C.S.C. on the South Bend campus.

On Tuesday, Phelps made sure to find on campus the Most Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., university president emeritus who offered his guidance and blessed the coach during Phelps’ cancer-fighting process.

Phelps found Hesburgh celebrating Mass at Holy Cross House. It was Hesburgh’s words to Phelps early in spring — “Have the courage” — that helped Phelps in his fight. He fought, in part, because he had previously beaten cancer.

It’s great to hear that coach Phelps has been given a clean bill of health (he’ll undergo “maintenance” treatments every three months for the next two years), and he’ll once again be on television waving his hi-liter this winter.

College basketball has been used as a platform in the fight to find a cure for cancer, with ventures such as the Jimmy V Foundation and Coaches vs. Cancer being the most prominent.

h/t Eye on College Basketball

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: