I think the Big East tournament is doing just fine, don’t you?
A night after Georgetown got picked off by DePaul in the first round of the tournament, Seton Hall beat the tournament’s No. 1 seed 64-63 on a game-winning, step-back jumper at the buzzer from Sterling Gibbs.
It’s a great way to start a long Thursday of conference tournament action, and it was the perfect ending to a thriller in Madison Square Garden. Seton Hall was up by as many as 15 points on the Wildcats, but Villanova used a 18-0 run to retake the lead. The Pirates never rolled over, however, going blow-for-blow with the Wildcats. Jaren Sina hit a huge three with 17.2 seconds left to put Seton Hall up 62-61, and after a tough runner from Darrun Hilliard game Villanova the lead back, Gibbs’ jumper won the game.
The buzzer-beater was the highlight, but the talking point after this game is going to be about the fourth No. 1 seed. The Wildcats had put themselves in a position where they were likely the favorite to join Florida, Wichita State and Arizona on the top line of the bracket when it gets announced on Sunday, but having their resume capped with a loss to a team that couldn’t even crack the RPI’s top 100 is a major issue.
Villanova isn’t out of the running yet, but with teams like Kansas, Wisconsin, Syracuse, Virginia and Louisville still alive in their league tournaments, the chances of the Wildcats still have the best profile in four days is quite unlikely.
Here’s another question: what do we make of this Villanova team? They’re scrappy, they can force turnovers with their perimeter ball pressure, they cause matchup problems with their versatile forwards and they shoot a lot of threes despite being a relatively mediocre perimeter shooting team. But they don’t have a ton of size, their best win (Kansas) came before the Jayhawks hit their stride and they got blown out twice by the only other elite team in the Big East.
Might Jay Wright’s club be primed for an early exit next week? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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.