Late in the first half of Gonzaga’s 72-62 loss to Kansas State last Saturday, senior center Sam Dower took a hard fall and left the game with a lower back injury. And while Dower stated following Thursday’s practice (he only did some light shooting) that he feels better now, Gonzaga’s starting big man will be a game-time decision for their WCC opener against Santa Clara according to head coach Mark Few.
“The day of the game we’ll figure out what’s going on. So much can be done between now and then. You’ve all had back situations so you know they are tricky. He’s a tough guy when it comes to injuries, so we’ll see,” Few said according to the school.
Through 12 games Dower’s averaging 13.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest, shooting 61.1% from the field and 83.8% from the foul line. With the departures of Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk, Dower’s minutes have increased some nine minutes per game (from 16.0 mpg last season to 25.1) and he’s taken advantage of the opportunities.
If Dower were unable to go the Bulldogs would lose some depth in the front court, but against the Wildcats 6-foot-5 guard Kyle Dranginis supplied eight points and five rebounds in 31 minutes of action. And Przemek Karnowski, who accounted for ten points and seven rebounds against K-State, would become even more important for the Bulldogs. In Santa Clara, Gonzaga faces a team that ranks sixth in the WCC in defensive rebounding percentage.
Louisville transfer Angel Nunez, who became eligible last Saturday, did not see any action against Kansas State.
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.