South Region No. 12 seed Stephen F. Austin was a trendy pick to at the very least win its first game of the NCAA tournament, with Brad Underwood’s team boasting a 28-game win streak entering their game against No. 5 VCU. But after being on the wrong end of a 26-5 second half run, the Lumberjacks trailed by ten with 3:38 remaining and looked to be on their way home.
However SFA didn’t wilt, continuing to compete and managing to rally against VCU’s dreaded “Havoc” system. A Desmond Haymon (17 points, seven rebounds) four-point play with 3.6 seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime, and SFA would go on to win 77-75 in overtime to move their win streak to 29 games in a row.
Jacob Parker scored 22 points for the Lumberjacks, who won despite committing 17 turnovers with 11 of those coming during the aforementioned 26-5 run. While things certainly didn’t look good for SFA during that stretch, they managed to weather the storm, and when the Lumberjacks didn’t turn the basketball over they performed well offensively.
Stephen F. Austin made 52.9% of its shots from the field, shooting 61.8% on their two-point shots. VCU has been one of the nation’s best defensive teams when it comes to defending the three-pointer, which makes it understandable that Stephen F. Austin shot 6-for-17 from deep. But after beating the VCU pressure the Lumberjacks needed to take advantage of their opportunities inside of the arc, and Parker was the player who proved most capable of doing so.
Now having won 29 straight games, Stephen F. Austin isn’t a team that’s satisfied with winning one game and then heading home. As our own Scott Phillips wrote last month, this is a group capable of accomplishing more than that. And thanks to Haymon’s shot in the final seconds or regulation, Stephen F. Austin will have that chance.
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.