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Kentucky freshman PG Green making push to be the starter

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Quade Green downplays talk of being Kentucky’s starting point guard despite making a strong case for the job.

The 6-foot freshman pushed the fast pace that coach John Calipari wanted during the preseason, fed Wildcat teammates with accurate passes and shot well. Most notably, he’s showing the stamina and durability needed for the position critical to executing Calipari’s offense.

Green has spent a lot of time watching video of past Kentucky stars such as John Wall, Tyler Ulis and even Rajon Rondo, all now in the NBA. They all passed through Lexington this summer for pickup games against the talented young Wildcats, experience that has stoked Green’s confidence to make his point — on and off the court.

“It’s hard to fill everybody’s shoes that have come through here, but I’ve got my own shoes to fill,” said Green, one of five high school All-Americans among eight newcomers for the No. 5 Wildcats.

“I have my own expectations of what I want to do, and I’ve just got to follow the rules that Cal wants. I’ve got to do what he wants me to do, and do what I’ve got to do to be a pro.”

Green stresses that he’s got a lot of work ahead at Kentucky before thinking about the NBA. Calipari meanwhile is undecided whether Green or 6-6 freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will run the point for Kentucky as it opens the season Friday night against Utah Valley.

Freshman Jemarl Baker (6-4) is out three months after recent left knee surgery, leaving the Wildcats with just three guards. Chances are Green, Gilgeous-Alexander and even 6-5 redshirt Hamidou Diallo will share the responsibility there.

Calipari seems inclined to try a number of combinations with one of his youngest rosters at Kentucky.

“We’re a good enough handling team that you could play basically without a point guard,” the coach said on media day. “But our teams have been centered on having guys out there that can really control the game somewhat. So I would say two. And they can play together, by the way, because Shai is big.”

Green meanwhile has helped the offense with quickness and impressive shooting. During preseason he made nearly 70 percent from the field — including 64 percent from 3-point range — in addition to passing well and maintaining the tempo.

The Philadelphia native has used the 5-9 Ulis’ style as a template to follow, particularly on defense. Studying many of his predecessors has also given Green a blueprint of how to bring Kentucky’s latest collection of talent together.

“It’s a big transition because you’re dealing with more and better players” than high school, Green said. “You’ve got to get them involved too because they’re trying to get to the same level you’re trying to get to. You’ve got to help them, and they can help you.”

With Kentucky playing four games in the season’s opening week, including Tuesday in Chicago against No. 4 Kansas, Calipari will use many combinations to determine his rotation. Judging from his swagger and performance, Green wants to be in charge.

“He’s the floor general,” forward Wenyen Gabriel said of Green. “That is one of the aspects of his game and he just wants to really let that show when he’s out on the floor. He gets assists, gets the ball moving and he talks. He shows a lot of leadership while he’s playing the game, so that’s one of his best aspects.”

VIDEOS: Villanova team bus stuck on icy roads trying to leave campus

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Villanova’s road to the Sweet 16 hit its roughest patch yet on Wednesday as the team attempted to leave campus for the team’s flight to Boston.

Since the Philadelphia area has been slammed with a snowstorm, the Wildcat team bus had issues leaving to get to the team’s chartered flight.

A struggle between team bus and ice ensued. The bus was delayed by 30 minutes before finally being able to leave.

Villanova continues its NCAA tournament journey on Friday when the No. 1 seed Wildcats play No. 5 seed West Virginia in Boston.

Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods to transfer or go pro after graduation

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Wake Forest will be down a key player next season as the school announced that guard Keyshawn Woods will either transfer or go pro after graduation.

The 6-foot-3 Woods was the team’s second-leading scorer this season as he put up 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Woods shot 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range for the 2017-18 campaign.

Also a key member of last season’s NCAA tournament team for the Demon Deacons, Woods transferred to Wake Forest after spending his first season at Charlotte.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Manning gave me to be a part of this program and to graduate from this great university,” said Woods in the release. “I am proud that I was able to help the coaches change the culture of the program and build a foundation for the future.”

The loss of Woods won’t be easy for Wake Forest, but the team is scheduled to return some talented guards like Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress next season. Incoming freshmen like Jaime Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr. are also signed to add to the perimeter depth.

David Padgett not retained as Louisville coach

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Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.

Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.

“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”

Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.

In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.

Kansas State’s injured star hoping to play Thursday

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One of the most surprising parts about Kansas State’s run to the Sweet 16 is that they have done it without the services of their leading scorer, Dean Wade.

Wade injured his foot prior to the Big 12 tournament loss to Kansas. He did not play in that game or in either of Kansas State’s first two tournament games, but it is looking more and more like he’ll be on the floor on Thursday night when they play Kentucky.

“I don’t play percentages very well, but I’m feeling good,” Wade said, via SEC Country. “I’m very positive about it. It’s getting better every day and today I felt great out there, doing a little more than usual. It felt good.”

Wade averaged 16.5 points per game, but the big question is going to be whether or not he is actually healthy when he takes the court. Just because he’s on the floor doesn’t mean he’s at 100 percent.

“Really just trying to get it out of my mind that it’s not hurt,” Wade said. “Just more of a mental thing, just getting out there and running around. I think I got moved past that and it’s feeling better.”

Arizona’s Sean Miller: ‘I am not a candidate’ at Pitt

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With speculation mounting about who Pitt will hire to replace Kevin Stallings as their new head coach, current Arizona head coach Sean Miller released a statement saying that he is not in the running to fill the opening.

“I am not a candidate for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball head coaching vacancy. I wish them well in their search for a new coach,” the statement read.

Miller is a native of Pittsburgh and an alumni of the school — he’s the guy that had the assist on Jerome Lane’s famous dunk — and with the issues that are currently swirling around him and the Arizona program, there was speculation that he was looking for an escape plan.

Maybe he wasn’t.

Maybe he was and the Pitt administration decided they couldn’t risk hiring someone who had an assistant coach arrested in the FBI’s sweep of college basketball and who himself may be on wiretaps talking about who knows what. Releasing this statement would then be a way for him to save face and say he was never interested.

And then maybe there’s option No. 3: Pitt has won the Dan Hurley sweepstakes.

As it stands, both the Panthers and UConn are in the process of chasing after the Rhode Island head coach, and it’s not uncommon in coaching searches for a coach to announce that he is not a candidate for the job after the job decides they want someone else. Call it a professional courtesy.

But that’s neither here nor there.

What we do know now is that Sean Miller will not be the next head coach at Pitt.