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Frank Kaminsky’s latest step forward results in Final Four berth for No. 2 Wisconsin

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Even with the losses in the front court from last season’s team, Frank Kaminsky’s name didn’t come up all too often when prognosticators discussed the Wisconsin Badgers before the start of the 2013-14 season. And based upon Kaminsky’s production in his first two seasons in Madison, that’s understandable.

After averaging 1.8 points and 1.4 rebounds per game as a freshman, the 7-footer raised his scoring to 4.2 points per contest as a sophomore. And while the presence of Jared Berggren and Ryan Evans needs to be noted with regards to the low average, it would be understandable if most didn’t expect Kaminsky to become one of the country’s best inside-out big men. However that’s been the case this season, and Kaminsky’s performance in the Badgers’ 64-63 win over No. 1 Arizona was simply the latest standout performance in what has been an outstanding junior campaign.

Kaminsky was the one matchup Arizona, arguably the best defensive team in the country, struggled to find an answer for as he scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Kaminsky made 11 of his 20 shots from the field, which included a 3-for-5 night from beyond the arc.

MORE: No. 2 Wisconsin holds off No. 1 Arizona in Anaheim 

When defended by Arizona’s 7-foot center Kaleb Tarczewski the junior was able to use his perimeter skills, either knocking down jumpers or on a few occasions taking the ball to the basket. Arizona’s hope early on was that Tarczewski, who struggled with foul trouble in their win over San Diego State, would be able to defend Kaminsky without needing help.

When that strategy didn’t work Arizona went small, having the ultra-athletic Aaron Gordon move to the center position and defend Kaminsky. But as the game progressed, there was an issue with this as well.

Deciding to switch all ball screens when they went small, Arizona ended up with a guard defending Kaminsky on multiple occasions. And while Wisconsin didn’t alway throw Kaminsky the ball in the post when this occurred, they were able to attack the Arizona defense off the dribble. Wisconsin shot just 39.3% from the field on the night, but the presence of Kaminsky resulted in the Badgers scoring 1.05 points per possession.

MORE: No. 1 Arizona’s defense was the issue in loss to Wisconsin

And while that number may not seem all that impressive, the opposition must be considered. Arizona allowed more than 1.05 points per possession in just four other games this season, with two being against UCLA. With few opportunities to truly expose Arizona, it was vitally important that Wisconsin take advantage of the one matchup that fell in their favor. That matchup was Kaminsky, a development few thought possible back in October.

That’s a credit to Bo Ryan and the coaching staff as well as Kaminsky’s teammates, but the biggest key is Kaminsky himself. Faced with the challenge of helping Wisconsin account for the loss of Berggren and Evans, the junior stepped up. And as a result of Kaminsky’s hard work, Wisconsin will make its first Final Four appearance since 2000.

Jim Valvano’s title-winning N.C. State team to finally get White House visit

FILE - In this April 5, 1983, file photo, North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano embraces sophomore forward Lorenzo Charles moments after Charles had dunked a shot to give North Carolina State the win over Houston in the national championship game at the Final Four of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Albuquerque, N.M. (AP Photo/Leonard Ignelzi, File)
(AP Photo/Leonard Ignelzi, File)
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The N.C. State men’s basketball team never got invited to the White House after they won the 1983 National Title.

It wasn’t a tradition in those days. They spoke with President Ronald Reagan, but they did so from the confines of a television studio in Raleigh. It’s commonplace now to see title winners from all sports making their way to the Oval Office to shake hands with our nation’s leader, but back then, the funding and invitation weren’t always available.

And that never say right with the guys on that team. Since Lorenzo Charles, whose memorable dunk was the title-winning bucket, passed away in 2011, that team has had a reunion every spring, and the topic of going to the White House to celebrate the win always came up. That inspired Thurl Bailey, who was the No. 7 pick of the 1983 NBA Draft, and his friend, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, to write letters to President Obama requesting that the ’83 iteration of the Wolfpack get their White House visit.

“As definitive as a National Championship sounds, as an athlete there always seems to be unfinished business,” Bailey told N.C. State’s website. “You’re always looking for the next challenge, the next opportunity. This was it for me.  If I could get this done, it would be yet another story for me and the other members of that team to be able to pass along to our kids, grandkids and generations after that.”

Bailey’s efforts proved successful.

On Thursday, N.C. State announced that President Obama had not only received the letters, but he has issued a May 9th invitation for that 1983 team to visit him in Washington, D.C., meaning that Bailey, Dereck Whittenburg and the rest of that 1983 title-winning team will finally get to meet the Commander-in-Chief.

“The joy and the euphoria of winning a national title against all odds, as well as the pain and devastation of losing members of that family, are important parts of who I am,” Bailey said. “Contacting President Obama was one piece of our incredible journey that had eluded us for far too long.”

Los Angeles to host new college basketball doubleheader

Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a foul call during the first half of Arizona's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, Friday, Feb 12, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) A new men’s basketball doubleheader will be played in Los Angeles featuring Arizona, BYU, Gonzaga and Southern California.

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Wednesday announced the one-day event, to be played at Staples Center on Dec. 3.

The Wildcats will play the Zags and the Cougars will face the Trojans.

Tickets will go on sale May 4. Game times and television broadcast information will be announced later.

Purdue-Arizona State and Florida-Duke in Jimmy V Classic

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski gestures during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
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NEW YORK (AP) Purdue will face Arizona State and Florida will meet Duke in the 2016 Jimmy V Classic.

The 22nd annual doubleheader will be played Dec. 6 at Madison Square Garden.

The early season event will be part of the 10th annual Jimmy V Week to help raise funds for cancer research. ESPN’s 2015 Jimmy V Week for Cancer Research raised a record-setting $3.2 million for The V Foundation for Cancer Research – one million more than the previous fundraising record of $2.2 million in 2014. In nine years, Jimmy V Week has raised $13.7 million for cancer research.

No. 6 Maryland beat Connecticut 76-66 and No. 10 Virginia beat No. 14 West Virginia 70-54 in last year’s doubleheader.

Video: Bobby Knight endorses Donald Trump

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The General put his weight behind The Donald on Wednesday night.

Bobby Knight, he of three national championships with Indiana and the reputation as one of the brashest coaches of all time, endorsed Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, at a rally in Indianapolis.

You folks are taking a look at the most prepared man in history to step in as President of the United States,” Knight said. “That man right there.”

The Hall of Famer Knight won 902 games in his career at West Point, Indiana and Texas Tech. He was famously ousted by the Hoosiers in 2000 after university president Myles Brand had instituted a “no-tolerance” policy on Knight after a string of controversies that defined the coach as much as his winning.

He retired after seven seasons with Texas Tech in 2008.

 

NCAA board of governors approves anti-discrimination process for event bids

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The NCAA board of governors adopted a new rule that all sites hosting or bidding on NCAA events that will require them to “demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination, plus safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event,” it was announced Wednesday.

The decision “follows the recent actions of legislatures in several states, which have passed laws allowing residents to refuse or provide services to some people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the NCAA’s release reads.

The new criteria is expected to be fully implemented during the current bidding process, the NCAA said.

North Carolina and Mississippi recently passed laws that have rolled back protections of the LBGT community. NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently threatened to move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte if the law does not change in North Carolina.

The NCAA had already barred sites that display the Confederate flag and from members hosting championship events that use “abusive and offensive” Native American imagery or nicknames.

“The higher education community is a diverse mix of people from different racial, ethnic, religious and sexual orientation backgrounds,” said Kirk Schulz, president of Kansas State University and chair of the Board of Governors, said in a statement. “So it is important that we assure that community – including our student-athletes and fans – will always enjoy the experience of competing and watching at NCAA championships without concerns of discrimination.”

The NCAA “considers the promotion of inclusiveness in race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity as a vital element to protecting the well-being of student-athletes, promoting diversity in hiring practices and creating a culture of fairness.”