It may sound weird to say this, but Julius Randle was the most important player on the floor for the Wildcats in Saturday’s win over LSU despite the fact that he managed just eight points on 3-for-8 shooting.
He guarded Johnny O’Bryant, the LSU big man that torched the Wildcats in their first meeting in Baton Rouge, forcing him to take 25 shots to get his 20 points and turning him over five times. He switched onto Anthony Hickey on regulation’s final possession, keeping him from penetrating and forcing him into a tough, fadeaway jumper. He grabbed 15 rebounds, one of which led to his game-winning lay-in with 3.9 seconds left.
Randle is Kentucky’s best offensive weapon, which means that his value may lie in being a bit of a decoy offensively while setting the tone for the Wildcats with his effort and his hustle. He may be the star, but he needs to play like the glue-guy that only gets minutes when he gets floor-burns.
It seems like he’s embracing that.
“It is what is (on the scrutiny). I don’t care about that. It may or may not be true, but I’m playing basketball. I didn’t come here to be liked. I came here to win a championship,” Randle told Larry Vaught of VaughtsViews.com.
Last week, Jason King of Bleacher Report published the story of four days behind-the-scenes with Kentucky’s basketball program.
It’s well worth the read, with plenty of insight into what it’s like to be a basketball player representing Big Blue Nation. But the most interesting passage is this quote from Calipari during a film session with Randle.
“Look at yourself!” says Calipari, raising his arms. “Look at what you’re doing! Normal human beings can’t do that! If you play like that and go 2-for-9, we’ll win!
“The question is whether you can go 2-for-9 and still play like that.”
I guess he can.
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.