Rick Pitino

When read in context, Rick Pitino is right about social media

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source:
Fox Sports Live

That’s the quote that made the rounds on twitter last night, thanks in large part to this tweet from Fox Sports Live’s official account.

The actual quote can be heard at the 8:25 mark of the video below, dug up by Stephen Douglas of The Big Lead. It comes after Pitino had answered a couple of questions from the local media about racism and segregation in New York when he was growing up. The question he was responding to was about racist tweets that Russ Smith said he deals with. Seriously, give it a listen:

Here’s the thing: Pitino is exactly right! Here is everything that Pitino had to say:

“I think anybody who reads social media who’s in sports is not all there. I’m being very serious when I say that. … It’s a form of cowardice. It’s anonymous people.”

“To me, I think it’s the great class of underachievers who live on the Internet with social media. I think it’s people that just waste their time. And underachieve because of it because they’re not paying attention to what they should be achieving to. So it’s a waste of time. I don’t know why people do it. So Russ is wasting his time. And he does waste his time, and so does Chris Jones. They waste their time when they could be spent reading valuable things. So I think it’s not that I’m against certain facets of social media, because I’m not, but what you’re talking about, what Russ Smith is doing, is a total waste of energy, time. It’s insulting, intellectually, to be on it.”

The reporter then follows up with a question about how paying attention to twitter mentions and Instagram comments and the like opens an athlete up to criticism, and this is where Pitino makes his most salient point:

“So why would you do that? Why not go in a smoke-filled room and just inhale all of that if you’re healthy? That’s what you’re doing, aren’t you? What would you get out of it? It’s insulting to one’s intellect to read that stuff. So why would Russ do that?”

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Last night, during Oklahoma State’s loss to Baylor, Marcus Smart took to twitter to fire shots at Pistols Firing, SBNation’s Oklahoma State blog. It’s understandable. The Cowboys have been disappointing this season, and Pistols Firing has done what bloggers do these days — combined solid analysis with snarky criticism and the angst of a frustrated fan. 

This isn’t meant to criticize the site — they do good work — but Smart should not be paying attention to anything that they write. He should not be following them on twitter. And he should not be lashing out at them at a time when he’s watching his team lose games because his frustrations boiled over in an ugly incident where he shoved a fan.

“I’m tired of seeing your negativity to the team and the coaches,” Smart wrote. It’s hard to read that sentence and not believe that he’s been following the site all season long. Is that part of why he’s been so reactive and combative this season? Did that play a role in his uber-competitiveness turning into one of his faults?

The conversation that Pitino was having with those Louisville writers was in a much different context, but his point remains the same. 

What is Russ Smith really going to be getting out of reading through his mentions on twitter? How does it help Marcus Smart to read through the whimsical self-loathing of Oklahoma State fans?

It’s nothing more than distraction, and even the most strong-minded of us can hear something that a troll says anonymously on the internet and let it fester in the back of our minds. I’ve certainly had it happen to me, and I have a fraction of the public exposure that those two do.

Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever to get access to celebrities and star athletes. 

Not everything they hear is going to be positive.

Acknowledging on the negative can not only be a hinderance, it’s completely unnecessary. 

And that’s Rick Pitino’s point.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.