Rick Pitino

Rick Pitino not pleased with Louisville’s first-round game with Manhattan


When the 2014 NCAA Tournament bracket came out on Sunday, many were critical of defending champion Louisville’s No. 4 seed.

The Cardinals are a popular pick to make their third straight Final Four — despite the No. 4 seed — but Louisville head coach Rick Pitino isn’t concerned about the Cardinals’ seed, he’s more worried about first-round opponent, No. 13 seed Manhattan.

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That’s because Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello is a former Louisville assistant coach who also played for Pitino at Kentucky. Pitino made some interesting remarks about the first-round matchup in a story from the AP:

“I think the pairings sometimes lack common sense,” Pitino said. “I don’t think they would put somewhere down the road Duke-North Carolina, so … the matchups don’t make sense to me. I’m OK with the seedings. I’m not OK with the matchups.

“But the selection committee is very fair, very honorable, very honest people, so I can’t protest too much because they’re doing the best job that they can do. Maybe they’re a bunch of soccer ADs? I don’t know.”

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The big issue with Louisville facing Manhattan? Both teams play similar styles of play, according to Pitino.

“We press like him, we trap like him, his offensive sets are just like ours,” Pitino said of Masiello. “That’s why I don’t like the game. I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t like it. I don’t know why they would do it.

“I just don’t like the game at all, for either one of us. We won the national championship and obviously we’re more heralded, but this is anybody’s game. This is not a 1-16.”

Pitino wasn’t the only one disappointed in the matchup. Masiello wasn’t happy with the matchup for Manhattan, either, and not because the Cardinals are so talented and the defending champion.

“To see them come up and then see us come up against them, it takes a little fun out of it,” Masiello said of the game. “It’s just, that’s not fun for me going against someone that I have to now try to beat, and almost in my mind, think negatively about. It’s hard for me to do that.” 

Louisville is set to tip-off with Manhattan in Orlando at approximately 9:50 p.m. on Thursday night in the Midwest Region.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.