Chaz Williams

Friday’s Pregame Shootaround: VCU visits UMass and a showdown in the A-Sun

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: VCU at UMass, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

Like teams that prefer to play fast? This is the game to watch then, with both the Rams and Minutemen ranked in the top 25 nationally in adjusted tempo. Both have speed and a desire to pressure defensively, with the Minutemen being led by senior point guard Chaz Williams. As Williams goes so goes UMass, with the Minutemen entering tonight’s game having won three of their last four. He’ll be tested by a VCU team that makes things incredibly difficult on opposing point guards, with guard Briante Weber being the toughest perimeter defender of the bunch.

The thing to watch in this matchup: turnovers. UMass may play fast but they’re only forcing around 14 turnovers per game, with VCU forcing 19 turnovers per game. If VCU has success in forcing live-ball turnovers and Juvonte Reddic outplays the UMass front court, the Rams are more than capable of leaving Amherst with the win.


The Atlantic Sun race essentially comes down to this matchup in Fort Myers. A win for the Eagles moves them into a tied for first with Mercer, but a loss gives Bob Hoffman’s Bears a two-game lead and a sweep of the season series. Two of the best guards at the mid-major level will be on display as well, with Langston Hall pacing Mercer and Brett Comer doing the same for FGCU. The differences in the first meeting, a 68-55 Mercer win on January 23, were Mercer’s forcing 15 FGCU turnovers and limiting the Eagles to 1-for-17 shooting from beyond the arc.


  • The two teams tied for first place in the Ivy League are both on the road, with Yale visiting Cornell and Harvard playing at Penn. For the Bulldogs this is the first of four straight games on the road before they host the Crimson on March 7.
  • Iona looks to maintain its two-game lead in the MAAC with a win at Rider. The Broncs are in the fight for fifth place and the final first-round by in the MAAC tournament, and a win would move them two games ahead of Marist and Siena.
  • Oakland is hoping to improve its standing within the Horizon League with a win over a UIC team that’s 0-13 in league play and mired in a 16-game losing streak. A Duke Mondy three-pointer as time expired gave the Golden Grizzlies a 76-75 win in the first meeting.
  • Also of note in the Horizon League is Wright State’s game against Detroit, with the Raiders looking to make a run at the three-seed in next month’s conference tournament. They currently trail Valparaiso by a game for third.
  • Manhattan visits Siena with the Jaspers needing a win to keep pace with Quinnipiac in the race for second in the MAAC. And with the Bobcats having swept the season series, Steve Masiello’s team will need QU to drop a game at some point.

Louisville’s Rick Pitino on allegations: ‘We will get through this’

Rick Pitino
AP Photo
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville coach Rick Pitino remains defiant that his program will survive the allegations in a book by an escort alleging that former Cardinals staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

Pitino said Tuesday that the Cardinals “will get through this the right way.”

The coach told a packed room at a tipoff luncheon that he understands the motivation behind Katina Powell’s book “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” but questions the need for the alleged activities given the talent his program has produced.

Pitino added, “We will find out the truth, whatever it may be, and those responsible will pay the price.”

Georgia Tech lands Class of 2016 guard

Brian Gregory
AP Photo
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Georgia Tech picked up its third Class of 2016 commitment on Tuesday as the Yellow Jackets landed a pledged from three-star guard Josh Okogie.

The 6-foot-4 guard is considered the No. 143 overall prospect in the national Class of 2016 rankings and Okogie played with a very talented Team CP3 in the Nike EYBL. In 22 games this spring and summer, Okogie averaged 10.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 45 percent from the field.

Okogie joins three-star wing Christian Matthews and four-star big man Romello White in head coach Brian Gregory’s Class of 2016 at Georgia Tech. The group is definitely a solid influx of talent with some coming from successful grassroots programs.