Buried in the countless human emotions emitted during the NCAA tournament — ND State’s Lawrence Alexander and his three, Cameron Ridley of Texas sinking a buzzer-beater — are the actual, real life situations that affect the coaches and players in the field.
Fran McCaffery and Chris Mack of Iowa and Xavier, respectively, have both had family health scares in the lead-up to the tournament tip, and it was revealed yesterday that the wife and daughter of NC Central coach LeVelle Moton did not travel with the team to San Antonio because the son was recently hospitalized after suffering burns to his body.
While thankfully it appears Moton’s son will not suffer any long-term injuries — he knocked over a cup of coffee — the absence of his family clearly affected Moton: “I walk into an incredible hotel that looks like an apartment and I’m in there by myself. It just doesn’t feel the same with my son and my daughter and my wife who sacrifice so much to allow me to become a better person and a better basketball coach, and this unfortunate situation, this unfortunate accident, and they’re not here.”
Being a college basketball coach is a 720 days a year job. There are countless hours spent on the recruiting trail, in practice, or prepping themselves and the team for the coming games. It is exhausting. Even when the recruiting calendar is dark, it never lets up, and we are witnessing the slightly hidden (but always there) fact that there are families involved in this cycle. From the families of Mack to McCaffery and now Moton, there are other people involved, and that goes beyond the brackets. This is NC Central’s first ever NCAA appearance, and while Moton is relishing the opportunity to showcase his team, the conference, and himself — during one of these coaching carousels, Moton will be a high commodity — it is unfortunate that the family suffered this scare in the midst of great celebration and can’t be on-hand to support.
Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.
During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.
In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.
“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”
Miller also released his apology in the same release.
“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.
For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?
Michigan State has climbed on the back of star senior wing Denzel Valentine early in the season but they’ll undoubtedly need more help as the season goes on if they want to sustain their current top-5 ranking. One of the keys to the Spartans could be the on-going health of sophomore point guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, who is battling a foot injury.
According to a report from Kyle Austin of MLive.com, Nairn has been putting on a protective boot the last few months to help battle plantar fasciitis as the guard has been playing in practices and hasn’t had his minutes reduced in games.
The injury looked like it was hurting Nairn’s early-season play, but he’s been very good in two games at the Wooden Legacy in California this week, so it could be that he’s getting more used to playing through the pain of the injury.
If Nairn is healthy and capable of contributing, he’s a huge boost to Michigan State because he’s one of the fastest players in college basketball and an additional ball handler on the floor. Through six games so far this season, Nairn is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 assists per game as he’s been one of the team’s best distributors.
Plantar fasciitis can be a tough injury to fight through, so we’ll have to see if this affects Nairn as the season goes along.