And then there were four.
Oklahoma picked up their biggest win of the season on Saturday afternoon, knocking off previously undefeated Iowa State 87-82 in Norman. And they did it despite a rough shooting night from leading scorer Cameron Clark, who finished just 4-for-16 from the floor. Buddy Hield, who has morphed into one of the nation’s most under-appreciated players, finished with 22 points, hitting six threes in the process, while big man Ryan Spangler added 16 points and 15 boards.
So congrats to the Sooners, because that’s a huge win.
But the much more important news is that the No. 9 Cyclones may have lost their best player.
Deandre Kane, who was No. 3 in our most recent Player of the Year rankings, rolled his left ankle over in the final minute. He had to be carried off the court and couldn’t stand on it while going through the handshake lines at the end of the game. Losing Kane for any significant amount of time would be just devastating for the Cyclones, as his ability to score off the dribble and create open looks for his teammates is so important for what Iowa State likes to do.
It also doesn’t help that Iowa State is just one game into what may be the toughest seven-game stretch for any team in the country this season. They played at Oklahoma today and will host No. 18 Kansas on Monday night, which means that Kane has less than 60 hours to get healthy if he wants to play in that game.
(UPDATE: Iowa State’s trainer told Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune that Kane’s ankle injury is not a dreaded high-ankle sprain and that there is nothing structurally wrong with it. No torn ligaments, no broken bones, no dislocations. That means that the amount of time that Kane misses will be a result of how much pain he can tolerate in that ankle. Putting a timeframe on it now would be foolish.)
The next five games: at Texas (18th), Kansas State (25th), at Kansas (29th), Oklahoma (Feb. 1st) and at Oklahoma State (Feb. 3rd). That stretch could be what makes or breaks Iowa State’s season. That could be what determines whether this is a team that can compete for a Big 12 title and get a top two or three seed, or if they’ll slide back to somewhere around the 7-10 game again.
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.