With sophomore forward Georges Niang out for the remainder of the season with a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot, East Region No. 3 Iowa State had a major personnel loss to account for ahead of their matchup with No. 6 North Carolina in San Antonio. Not the deepest team to begin with, Fred Hoiberg’s team would have to take on a North Carolina team with multiple front court bodies without the services of a player who averaged 16.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
However thanks to DeAndre Kane’s outstanding performance, the Cyclones are headed to New York City after beating the Tar Heels 85-83. Kane’s layup with 1.6 seconds remaining gave Iowa State the win, with the game ending in controversial fashion due to the clock operator failing to start the clock on time following Kane’s basket. After reviewing the play the officials ruled that there was no time remaining, dealing the Tar Heels a painful blow that will linger throughout the offseason.
Kane accounted for 24 points, ten rebounds and seven assists on the evening, and while he did commit seven turnovers the Marshall transfer was an extremely difficult matchup for North Carolina. Without Niang on the floor Iowa State was without a key facilitator capable of assessing the defense and setting up his teammates for quality looks, something that Kane was asked to do with greater regularity Sunday. From a rebounding standpoint the Cyclones more than held their own with the bigger Tar Heels, and Iowa State’s offensive balance helped as well.
In total five Cyclones finished the game in double figures including Melvin Ejim (19 points, four rebounds) and Naz Long, with the latter scoring 12 points and hitting two key three-pointers when North Carolina threatened to pull away in the second half. Long also hit a three-pointer with 49 seconds remaining to tie the game at 81.
Iowa State looked fatigued during the middle of the second half, which was to be expected given the Tar Heels’ advantage in the depth department. But it would be North Carolina who made the “fatigued” decisions late, losing players in transition with the most glaring resulting in Kane’s layup with 27 seconds remaining to give Iowa State an 83-81 lead.
Iowa State had just one day to adjust to not having Niang in the lineup, and thanks in large part to Kane the Cyclones were able to survive and advance. Clearly this is a different group without their sophomore forward, but there’s still talent and a coach in Hoiberg who’s done a good job of making sure his players are in spots where they can be most successful. And as a result, Iowa State’s headed to Madison Square Garden for a matchup with No. 7 UConn Friday night.
“Everything happens for a reason and although it hurt to not be able to play for a group of guys I loved last year, my body needed time to recover and that time off allowed me to feel the best I’ve felt since my freshman year,” Mitrou-Long said in the release. “I’m glad I’ll be able to play for the best fans in the country and represent the name on the front of my jersey, Iowa State, one more year. Words can’t describe this feeling. Cyclone Nation, be ready for a special year.”
The 6-foot-4 Long played in eight games last season for Iowa State as he averaged 12 points per game. He missed the rest of the season to deal with pain in his surgically repaired hips. Mitrou-Long has been a very effective three-point shooter during his career at Iowa State and he should be a nice option to have for next season if he’s healthy.
CIAA will stay in North Carolina despite state’s LGBT law
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association says it won’t move its headquarters, its basketball tournament or other conference championships from North Carolina, despite the state’s controversial new LGBT law.
The CIAA said in a statement Thursday that it will instead partner with the NCAA to educate its members on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues as it does on other issues, like graduation rates and concussion management.
The Charlotte Observer reports that the CIAA, the oldest African-American sports conference in the U.S., has hosted its annual basketball tournament in Charlotte since 2006 and announced it was moving its headquarters to Charlotte from Virginia in 2015.
The CIAA said Thursday that it will continue to “monitor the issues,” as it has since House Bill 2 passed.
VIDEOS: Stephen Curry’s personally invites athletes to his select camp
John Calipari has a goal this offseason: to lose some weight.
“Mid-50s, I let it go a little bit,” Calipari said as he worked out on an elliptical. “Had a heck of a year. But going forward, gotta get in better shape. Gotta get the body right. Started a week ago. What I will say to you is really simple. I’m not showing you my body for a month.”
The reason why Cal needs to get into shape?
He’s going to have to coach this year, because Tyler Ulis is heading to the NBA.
“I shoulda got some of his salary,” Ulis joked.
Cal won’t have to coach too hard. He’s got one of the best recruiting classes in the country coming into the program, including three top ten players and five of the nation’s top 30 prospects.
Coaching changes can wreak havoc on a program’s recruiting class, and that’s been the case for UNLV thanks to the tumultuous nature of their search for a new head coach. Thursday evening one prospect who remained committed to the Mountain West program throughout the process that ultimately led to Marvin Menzies landing the job announced that he’s decided to reopen his recruitment.
“I was very much looking forward to the opportunity to be a Rebel this year,” Fisher wrote. “But there have been a lot of changes with the program since I committed to UNLV; changes that have made me reconsider whether UNLV is still a good fit for me. So with that in mind and after much consideration with my family, I have decided it’s best that I reopen my recruitment.”
Fisher’s decision leaves wing Justin Jackson as the lone member of UNLV’s 2016 class at this point, with Jackson telling Scout.com in early April that he was undecided as to whether or not he’d reopen his recruitment. The school’s search for a coach began in January when they parted ways with Dave Rice, promoting Todd Simon in an interim role.
After deciding not to retain Simon, who’s now the head coach at Southern Utah, UNLV hired former Little Rock head coach Chris Beard…who left for Texas Tech less than two weeks later. UNLV landed Menzies, who they passed over for Beard, and he’s got a lot of work to do to field a roster that will be competitive in the Mountain West next season.
As for Fisher, the Arlington, Tennessee native should be a popular prospect with his decision to reopen things. And with Memphis losing former commit Charlie Moore, the Tigers are in need of help at the point. The question now is whether or not new head coach Tubby Smith will look to reach out to Fisher.