Eric Atkins, Quinn Cook

Eric Atkins, Notre Dame beat No. 7 Duke, turn around their season?

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For the first time in 19 games against former assistant coaches, Mike Krzyzewski has been beaten.

And while it isn’t necessarily a surprise that it was Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey that did it, it is a surprise that it happened this season.

The Fighting Irish were dealt a bad hand last month when it was announced that leading scorer Jerian Grant would be leaving school for the second semester due to an academic issue. That left a Notre Dame team that had been struggling with Grant in the lineup shorthanded, and the fact that they were taken to overtime by Canisius in their first game in the post-Jerian era was not exactly promising.

But if there is anything that Brey has proven that he’s capable of doing, it’s overcoming adversity on his roster. And on Saturday, his Irish used a late 20-4 run to turn a 60-50 deficit into a 70-64 lead in their 79-77 win over the Blue Devils.

Eric Atkins led the way for the Irish, finishing with 19 points and 11 assists while completely dominating the game on the offensive end of the floor. There really isn’t any other way to put it. He’s averaging 24.5 points and 9.0 assists in the two games without Grant.

He’s not alone, however. Pat Connaughton finished with 16 points — including a pair of momentum-changing dunks late in the second half — while Garrick Sherman chipped in with 14 points and eight boards, helping the Irish to control the paint against the smaller Blue Devils. Austin Burgett (five boards, five blocks) provided energy off the bench while Steve Vasturia (3-for-5 from three) came in and helped stretch the floor.

Put it all together, and what you get is Notre Dame’s biggest win of the season.

By far.

Remember, this is a team that lost to Indiana State and North Dakota State at home, that choked away an eight point lead in 51 seconds against Ohio State at the Garden. This is a team that had been written off as a contender in the ACC before the lost Grant for the year. But the Irish made a statement on Saturday afternoon. They’re not going to roll over and die just because a couple of pundits said they would.

This isn’t the first time that Brey has had to manufacture a turnaround. Remember when Luke Harangody injured his knee in 2010 and the Irish were forced to turn to the ‘Burn Offense’? That turned their season around, and they won their last six regular season games before making the NCAA tournament. Or what about in 2012, when Tim Abromaitis tore his ACL and the Irish still managed to win 13 Big East games?

Are the Irish really back?

Is this group actually going to be able to win against the best in the ACC once teams have a chance to scout and game-plan what they do without Grant?

Who knows.

But the bottom-line is that writing off the Irish — writing off Mike Brey — is never a good idea.

Former Wichita State assistant returns as a consultant

Chris Jans, Gregg Marshall
Associated Press
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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.


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.