John Calipari

John Calipari finally speaks on Kentucky’s recent issues

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Controversy has once again found Kentucky head coach John Calipari, as the young Wildcats lost on the road at South Carolina on Saturday and Calipari was ejected in the second half.

The loss was deemed “rock bottom” by a few national writers and on Monday, the head coach decided to place the blame on himself after not speaking to the media on Saturday.

Calipari responded to members of the media and the Courier-Journal‘s Kyle Tucker has many of the quotes, including Cal placing the blame on himself for Kentucky’s recent struggles:

“And again, look, my team, we’re talented enough to do what we want. We could beat anybody in the country, but we’ve also proven we can lose to anybody in the country. So it is on us right now, and basically it’s on me. I don’t put this on 18, 19-year-old kids. They don’t know. You think they know why they’re going through what they’re going through? Most cases they don’t. It’s our job and my job as the head coach to figure out what we have to do, how we have to do it, to get them to play as well as they can possibly play.”

Also interesting was Calipari talking about his teaching methods and how it applies to Kentucky’s confidence levels. Kentucky seemed to have things figured out a few weeks ago, but Calipari is potentially going back to the drawing board.

“But let me say this: I will be whoever I have to be, because this isn’t about me. This is about this team. And I’ve gotta get them more confident and figure out what do they need me to be. A cheerleader? What do they need me to be at this point? And that’s how I’ve always coached. It’s never changed. If I have to be tough, I’m tough. If I have to be easy, I’m easy. But again, it was only a few weeks ago that’s what we talked about. So as we go forward, the whole point of us is: How do we get our defensive confidence? How do we get our offensive confidence? Well we just had it 10 days ago, two weeks ago. How did that change? What did we do different? How did we think different? That’s what we’re going through now.”

So is Kentucky seeking its identity — again — as we get into March? That appears to be the case as there seems to be more questions than answers surrounding the Wildcats right now. Kentucky is one of the most talented teams in the country, but they are running out of time to figure things out as we get closer to the SEC Tournament and March Madness.

There are plenty of more enlightening comments from Calipari from today and they can be read in-full here and here.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.