At bare minimum, the goal for teams who could find themselves on the bubble in early-season tournaments is to avoid a loss (or losses) that can could potentially come back to hurt them in March when the 68-team NCAA tournament field is selected. That was the spot Arizona State found itself in following their 88-60 loss to No. 20 Creighton on Thursday night. And after a comfortable victory over the College of Charleston on Friday, Herb Sendek’s Sun Devils were one game away from accomplishing that task.
Then star point guard Jahii Carson injured his ankle in the first half of Arizona State’s game against Miami, robbing the sophomore of the explosion that makes him one of the best players in the country. With Carson at less than full strength Arizona State struggled offensively, resulting in their allowing a ten-point to lead slip away with the Hurricanes winning by the final score of 60-57.
Carson finished the game with just eight points on 2-for-14 shooting, and with their leading scorer struggling Arizona State’s supplementary parts were unable to produce enough to hold off Miami. Jermaine Marshall, who entered Sunday’s game averaging 14.2 points per game, matched his season average but did so on 4-for-12 shooting and Jordan Bachynski was highly effective in the paint (20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks).
But if there’s anything to be concerned about in the aftermath of this loss (in addition to Carson’s health, of course) it would be the lack of production from the bench. Arizona State played just eight players on Sunday, with Sai Tummala (five points) providing the only bench points of the afternoon. After scoring 12 points in 23 minutes of action against Creighton, Richie Edwards failed to score against either the College of Charleston or Miami, and fellow senior transfer Shaquielle McKissic didn’t see the floor against the Hurricanes.
Arizona State’s lack of depth was a big reason why they were unable to pick up enough quality wins to reach the NCAA tournament last season, and the thinking entering 2013-14 was that they had the depth needed to take the next step. In the aftermath of Carson’s injury, regardless of the severity Arizona State needs some guys to earn additional opportunities as the start of Pac-12 play approaches.
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.