The Secondary Break: Thursday’s Links

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McCaffery showed empathy for Iowa fan before outpouring for son (CBS Sports)
Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery coached Wednesday night’s game against Tennessee just hours after his 13-year old son underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his thyroid. Moments such as that put games in perspective, and it’s something the coach has done before in order to help a family who lost a young child to a heart ailment.

The Game that Saved March Madness (Sports Illustrated)
On March 19, 1989, Princeton faced Georgetown in a game many expected to follow the usual script when it comes to 1 vs. 16 games. Princeton, simply happy to be in the 64-team field, would take their beating from the Big East juggernaut and we’d soon forget about the Tigers. But that didn’t happen with the Tigers getting two chances to win the game, only to have Alonzo Mourning reject both attempts. And it’s a game that still has an impact to this day.

Women’s NCAA tournament graduation rates best men (NBC Sports)
Every spring one topic that tends to come up is how well programs are doing in the classroom, and thanks to the APR that progress now impacts postseason eligibility. A study released by UCF’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport revealed that women’s teams are graduating their student-athletes at an 87% rate, with the men behind at 72%. And those aren’t even the numbers that the researchers found most disturbing either.

Villanova wants Bell to go in style – with wins (CSN Philly)
Villanova senior wing James Bell has been an important leader for the Big East regular season champions. And with this being the case his teammates, many of whom are expected back next season, would like to do nothing more than make sure that Bell and his classmates Tony Chennault and Nick McMahon enjoy a deep NCAA tournament run.

Jahii Carson’s legacy, ASU basketball future to be shaped by one game (Arizona Republic)
Arizona State’s game against Texas on Thursday is a big one for obvious reasons, with the loser seeing its NCAA tournament experience cut short after one game. But for the Sun Devils the outcome will likely impact how the program is viewed by fans starved for a consistent winner. And with Jahii Carson, Jordan Bachynski and Jermaine Marshall all moving on afterwards, there will be changes for Herb Sendek to make from a personnel standpoint.

Youthful Kentucky ready to “do something crazy” (Louisville Courier-Journal)
Postseason play can offer teams that haven’t performed as well as they would have hoped a second life so to speak, because getting hot at the right time can result in a trip to the Final Four or maybe a national title. That’s the position Kentucky finds itself in, and they’ll begin NCAA tournament play against nine-seed Kansas State on Friday. And according to Jay Bilas, the Wildcats’ seed may be too low.

Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky his own biggest critic (Chicago Tribune)
Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky has been one of the nation’s most improved players, earning first team All-Big Ten honors after being a role player a season ago. One reason for the 7-footer’s growth is the fact that Kaminsky is his own biggest critic, working to keep that edge and continue to improve for a team with designs on reaching the Final Four for the first time since 2000.

AUDIO: Rick Pitino discusses allegations, future at Louisville

Rick Pitino
Associated Press
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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.

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.