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USC, UTEP coaching staffs get into heated discussion at Battle 4 Atlantis reception


“Tim Floyd shows up every day at work and realizes he lives in El Paso, Texas. And he’s pissed off that he didn’t get the USC job two months ago. I told him, ‘Tim, if I could have all this power to somehow convince a family to do this, why the heck didn’t the kid come last spring, when I first got the job?'”

Those were the words of first-year USC head coach Andy Enfield to a group of USC boosters, as dictated in a profile of the coach written by Stephen Rodrick in the December issue of Men’s Journal, and it was the latest salvo in a spat between the USC and UTEP programs that has spanned the last several months.

Both teams are playing in this weekend’s Battle 4 Atlantis event in The Bahamas, and according to Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated (he’s in attendance) the two coaching staffs had a heated exchange at the pre-tournament reception.

The conversation between the head coaches lasted for several minutes, with Floyd doing most of the talking. As it intensified, Enfield’s wife, Amanda, came to stand next to her husband. Floyd did not direct any of his remarks toward her or Miller.

After about five minutes, three of Enfield’s assistant coaches, Kevin Norris, Tony Bland and Jason Hart, stood behind Floyd. Soon Floyd could be heard saying to Hart, “Do you want to kick my ass?”

At that point, Floyd’s assistant coach, Bob Cantu, who served as USC’s interim head coach after the school fired Kevin O’Neill during the 2013 regular season and was sitting at a table a few feet away, stood up and joined the conversation. While Enfield, his wife and Floyd walked away, Cantu got into an argument with Bland and Hart. Those men were separated, but a few seconds later Bland rushed at Cantu. He was held back by UTEP strength coach Chisan Jones.

Both Floyd and Cantu have connections to the USC program, with Floyd being the head coach during the entire O.J. Mayo fiasco and Cantu being a long-time assistant before completing last season as the interim head coach. And there’s also the issue of former UTEP signee Isaac Hamilton, who’s sitting out the current season at UCLA.

In the immediate aftermath of Hamilton requesting to be released from his National Letter of Intent, Floyd accused USC and Enfield of tampering with the McDonald’s All-American. That all likely played a role in tonight’s disagreement, and with the two programs on opposite sides of the Battle 4 Atlantis event there’s no guarantee that they’ll meet.

But if the two teams match results over the first two days, so to speak, they would play on Saturday. And that would definitely be something to watch, regardless of what place the Trojans and Miners are playing for.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.