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The Secondary Break: Tuesday’s Links

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Frank Kaminsky big reason why Wisconsin is in Final Four (New York Daily News)
No. 2 Wisconsin will play in the Final Four for the first time since 2000 on Saturday, and one of the biggest reasons as to why is 7-foot center Frank Kaminsky. One of the nation’s most-improved players, Kaminsky scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Badgers’ win over No. 1 Arizona in the West regional final.

UConn’s Calhoun, Auriemma there for Kevin Ollie (Associated Press)
In his second season as the head coach at UConn, Kevin Ollie has his alma mater in the Final Four. And he’s got a good support system behind him as well, with former head coach Jim Calhoun and women’s head coach Geno Auriemma being important sounding boards for Ollie.

Mike Montgomery’s legacy is changing the perception of Stanford basketball (Yahoo Sports)
On Monday Cal head coach Mike Montgomery announced his decision to retire from coaching, ending what has been a highly successful career on the sidelines. Among Montgomery’s accomplishments was the job he did at Stanford, transforming that program into one of the (at the time) Pac-10’s premier programs.

Ivan McFarlin and the 2004 Cowboys left their egos at the door (The Oklahoman)
This season marks the ten-year anniversary of Oklahoma State’s last trip to the Final Four, with the Cowboys beating Saint Joseph’s in the East regional final before losing to Georgia Tech in the national semifinals. Eddie Sutton’s group may not have included a player who went on to be a star professionally, but the group was full of guys who sacrificed personal glory in order to make sure the team was successful.

At any level, Bo Ryan’s method is well-suited for March Madness (USA Today)
Much has been made about this being the first trip to the Division I Final Four for Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. However he’s been on the Final Four stage, albeit at the Division III level as he led UW-Platteville to four national titles in 15 seasons at the helm. One of his players was Saul Phillips, who’s now the head coach at North Dakota State.

Florida looks to avenge December loss to UConn in Final Four (Gainesville Sun)
No. 1 Florida is the only team in the Final Four to have played each of the other three teams this season, as they’ve defeated Kentucky three times and lost to both Wisconsin and UConn. And while their 65-64 loss to the Huskies back in early December gives Billy Donovan’s team a “reference point” of sorts, these two teams are different outfits now than they were during the regular season meeting.

Kentucky “in a great frame of mind” for Final Four (Lexington Herald-Leader)
After being seen as a disappointment for much of the regular season, No. 8 Kentucky is in the spot many expected them to occupy back in October: preparing for the Final Four. The task of beating No. 2 Wisconsin will be difficult, and the fact that head coach John Calipari doesn’t expect to have the injured Willie Cauley-Stein doesn’t help maters.

Union chief’s immediate focus on policy, not money (Chicago Sun-Times)
When news broke last week that the Chicago chapter of the NLRB granted the Northwestern football team the right to form a union, many assumed that this was about the players getting paid. However that isn’t the case, with the CAPA looking to change policy regarding concussions, medical care and transfer rules.

Rutgers land 7-foot grad transfer from UNC Wilmington

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Brandon Ingram #14 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket as he is defended by C.J. Gettys #23 of the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks in the second half of their game during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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Rutgers landed a commitment from seven-footer C.J. Gettys on Monday night.

Gettys is a graduate transfer from UNC-Wilmington, where he averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 blocks for a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Gettys is a slow-footed back-to-the-basket player, however, and that didn’t exactly fit with the way that UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts likes to play; think Shaka Smart’s VCU teams.

So Gettys opted for Rutgers, picking the Scarlet Knights over Dayton, Purdue and Chattanooga.

He is the fifth member of new head coach Steve Pikiell’s first recruiting class.

VIDEO: Seventh Woods dunks on UNC student

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Some poor UNC student decided that he was going to try and block Seventh Woods, a freshman point guard for the Tar Heels, on a dunk attempt.

What ended up happening was that he got windmilled on.

To quote Samuel L. Jackson, as portrayed the great philosopher Dave Chappelle, “You ain’t never seen my movies?” Woods was doing this as a freshman … in HIGH SCHOOL.

Former National Player of the Year Michael Brooks dies at 58

Brooks for All-American Brochure
Courtesy La Salle Athletics
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A Philadelphia basketball legend and a former National Player of the Year passed away on Monday night.

Michael Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward who was named the NABC National Player of the Year in 1980, died in Switzerland on Monday night due to a massive stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He was just 58 years old.

Brooks finished his career with 2,628 points and 1,372 rebounds. He never averaged less than 20 points in his four seasons in college. (Think about that for a second.) He was the No. 9 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and averaged double-figures for four years before season-ending knee injuries sent him to Europe to play. Brooks was also named the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that missed out on the Moscow games due to the USA’s boycott.

Brooks, according to the Inquirer, had aplastic anemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant last week. His body rejected the marrow, which resulted in the strokes that ended his life.

UCLA cruises in opener on Australian tour

UCLA head coach Steve Alford, second from right, watches action against Cal Poly with his assistant coaches in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Baker)
AP Photo/Michael Baker
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UCLA, who will be the most interesting team in all of college basketball this season, played their first game of an Australian tour on Tuesday morning, and they won in pretty impressive fashion.

The Bruins had triple digits on the board early in the fourth quarter, eventually beating a club in Sydney by the score of 123-76. For comparison’s sake, Washington and potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz beat the same team 101-80 a couple of weeks ago, so the win and the margin of victory is somewhat impressive.

Also worth noting: None of UCLA’s freshmen started. Steve Alford rolled with Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton on the perimeter — Holiday and Hamilton combined for 27 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Alford had 17 points on just 10 shots — with G.G. Golomon and Thomas Welsh up front.

But the noteworthy performances here were from the McDonald’s All-Americans that Steve Alford brought into the program. In his first game in the blue and gold, Lonzo Ball, a potential top ten pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was just OK. He finished with nine points and four assists while shooting 3-for-9 from the floor. Leaf, however, was terrific, as he led the team with 21 points to go along with nine boards and three assists.

The first exhibition game is hardly a great way to predict how a season is going to play out, but given the pressure and expectations currently surrounding the program, everything the Bruins do this season is going to be scrutinized.

This isn’t a bad way to start.

East Tennessee State dismisses Shemar Johnson from team

East Tennessee State coach Steve Forbes shouts from the bench in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Villanova, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Villanova, Pa. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson
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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) East Tennessee State has dismissed guard Shemar Johnson from its basketball team.

Buccaneers coach Steve Forbes said Monday that Johnson was no longer part of the team. Forbes said in a statement that “being a Buc is a special opportunity and at ETSU we provide our student-athletes with a tremendous experience. With that privilege comes accountability and Shemar failed to meet the expectations I have to be a player in our program.”

Forbes added that “I wish him the best now and in the future.”

Johnson, a 6-foot-6 guard from Columbus, Mississippi, was a redshirt freshman who hadn’t yet played a game for ETSU.