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Louisville tops Memphis in Gotham Classic

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NEW YORK (AP) — David Padgett is not naive.

Louisville’s interim men’s basketball coach is fully cognizant that the immediate future of the Atlantic Coast Conference power is an unknown as the university’s leaders decide upon who will lead the program following the ugly end of Rick Pitino’s tenure at the school. Yet there is a season that must be played out.

And so he is navigating a delicate balancing act: Trying to plan for tomorrow while recognizing the importance of today.

“I don’t think you’re going to get a kid in the country to commit per se to Louisville until they know who the head coach is going to be moving forward,” Padgett said after Louisville’s 81-72 win over Memphis in the showcase game of the Gotham Classic on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. “But like I said before, that’s not my concern, that’s not our players’ concern, that’s not our staff’s concern. We really are just trying to focus on winning right now.”

Louisville improved to 8-2 with its fourth straight win. Quentin Snider led four players in double-figure scoring with 19 points. V.J. King finished with 17 points, Deng Adel 15 and Ray Spalding 12.

“We knew (it would take) just one game (and) everyone was going to at least hit a 3 or something,” Snider said. “We were going to catch hot.”

Whereas the Cardinals were hot from the field, Memphis left Madison Square Garden angry at itself after its four game-winning streak came to an end. The Tigers fell to 7-3 overall, and 36-54 all-time against Louisville. Jeremiah Martin tied a career high with 26 points, and Kyvon Davenport had 12.

“We have a chip on our (shoulders),” Martin said. “People (are) always saying we’re not good enough, and they have 11 new guys; they’re not going to be anything.”

Tied 38-all at halftime, Louisville outscored Memphis 17-4 in the first 5:30 of the second half to take a 55-42 lead. The key to the spurt was 3-point shooting with Adel knocking down two from behind the arc and Snider one.

“(Adel) … can shoot over people,” Memphis coach Tubby Smith said. “You have to play him for the drive. We didn’t make him put it on the floor like we said we should have, like we were going to do; the adjustment we had to make at halftime. That was really disappointing.”

Defense aided the Cardinals’ cause. Louisville entered the game second nationally in blocked shots (7.9), ninth in field goals allowed (.367), 36th in 3-point field goals allowed (.293) and 44th in points allowed (64.3) per game. Louisville forced 12 turnovers and blocked 14 shots, while limiting the Tigers to 4-of-11 shooting from 3.

“We responded in the second half,” Padgett said. “Came out with more of a defensive mindset. … Came out of the gate in the second half, took the lead and did a good job of maintaining it even when they would go on a couple of runs. (I am) really proud of our team.”

As well as Louisville as played, though, the Tigers fought back, using a 13-5 spurt spanning 4:53 to cut a 58-46 deficit to 63-59. Martin scored seven of his 26 in that run.

“I’m not happy about the way I played,” Martin said. “Because we didn’t win.”

Memphis didn’t get closer as Louisville responded with a 9-0 run of its own to extend its lead to 72-59.

“The thing I was pleased with — and I kept telling them in the timeouts — every time they went on a run we needed to respond with a run of our own and we seemed to do that,” Padgett said.

BIG PICTURE

Louisville: The Cardinals entered Saturday’s game ranked 11th in the 15-team ACC in 3-point percentage with a .342 success rate. Naturally, the Cardinals connected on 53.8 percent (14 of 26) of their attempts from behind the arc.

Memphis: The Tigers’ modus operandi is pretty simple: Attack the paint. The Tigers did so routinely in the loss. Thirty-four of Memphis’ 72 points came in the paint. Moreover, the Tigers had a 14-6 advantage in second-chance points.

NOTABLE

Louisville: Saturday’s matinee marked the Cardinals’ second road game of the season. Louisville only other game away from home was the 66-57 loss to Purdue on Nov. 28.

Memphis: The Tigers fell to 16-23 all-time in games contested in New York City.

UP NEXT

Louisville: Hosts Albany Wednesday night.

Memphis: Hosts Siena Wednesday night.

Report: Pilot involved in last year’s Michigan crash went against protocol, saved lives doing so

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The pilot of the plane that was scheduled to carry the Michigan basketball team from Detroit to Washington D.C. for the 2017 Big Ten tournament broke protocol by aborting takeoff and, in the process, potentially saved the lives of everyone on board the plane.

Here’s what happened, according to a transcript of the cockpit recorder that was obtained by The Detroit News: The mechanism that an airplane uses to take-off is called an elevator, and one of the two elevators on the plane that the Michigan team was on was stuck in a position that would not have allowed the plane to get into the air the way it needed to.

By the time the pilot of the plane realized this, the plane was already past the speed that would have allowed them to abort the takeoff without damaging the plane. Generally speaking, when that happens, the protocol is to get into the air and then find a way to land safely. The pilot on this flight slammed on the brakes, reverse-thrusted the engines and hoped for the best.

What eventually happened was that the plane skidded to a stop off of the back-end of the runway, leaving the people on board with bumps, bruises, scratches and, in the case of Derrick Walton Jr., stitches in his leg.

The alternative?

Well, we don’t have to think about that.

Because the pilot of that plane, Mark Radloff, went against what he was taught to do.

I’d suggest you read the entire story here. It’s wild and frightening.

Ohio State basketball reportedly hit with recruiting violations

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The Ohio State men’s basketball program has been hit with some of the stupidest recruiting violations I’ve ever heard of.

According to a report from The Lantern, three basketball recruits and one football recruit were on campus on September 9th and, during the visit, took a trip to the set of ESPN Gameday, which was in town for the Ohio State-Oklahoma football game.

During that trip to set, the recruits all met former Ohio State players Kirk Herbstreit, who works for ESPN, and Eddie George, who was a guest picker that day, as well as two other ESPN personalities. Recruits are allowed to meet former players on their visit to campus. They aren’t, however, allowed to meet with the media, and since ESPN’s Gameday staff is considered to be media, Ohio State technically committed a recruiting violation.

Now this is where things get a little bit messy.

According to the story from the Lantern, the football staff self-reported the violation, ended their recruitment of the football player involved and suspended the staff member responsible for the violation for one game. The basketball program, however, very likely landed commitments from two of the recruits. While Ohio State will not confirm which players were specifically involved, reports from the websites that track these things list just three players — USC commit Elijah Weaver and two Ohio State commits, JaeDon Lee and Luther Muhammad — as being on a visit that weekend.

As a result, the NCAA has reportedly ruled the three basketball players ineligible pending an appeal — which, I would bet the naming rights of my second-born son on, they will win even if it costs them a game or two — while ruling that Scoonie Penn, who coordinated the violation, to be suspended for a game.

All because the recruits had a chance to visit the set of College Gameday and got a chance to meet some ESPN TV personalities who probably could not have cared less about the kids they were meeting.

Cal makes key hire with addition of David Grace

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It didn’t take long for a Pac-12 rival to capitalize on the mistake that Steve Alford made.

Just three days after he was controversially, in the eyes of UCLA fans, fired by Alford, UCLA’s recruiting guru David Grace found a new home in Berkeley as he was hired to be a part of Wyking Jones’ staff at Cal.

Grace is an ace recruiter in every sense of the word. A former member of the Air Force, Grace started his coaching career working with 12 year olds in the Boo Williams program in Virginia. After getting transferred to a base in Phoenix, he coached an affiliate of the Compton Magic as well as a state title winning high school team before jumping to college and, eventually, Oregon State, where he reeled in talents like Jared Cunningham, Roberto Nelson and Eric Moreland.

Grace then headed to LA, where he was the lead recruiter for a number of the elite pieces that Steve Alford has coached over the course of the last five seasons.

Which brings me to Cal.

Grace is a terrific recruiter, but particularly when it comes to kids from southern California. He should, in theory, help Wyking Jones start to funnel off some of the talent that heads to Westwood and make them Golden Bears.

I don’t want to overstate this move or to say that it will shift the balance of power in the conference. It is going to take quite a bit of time for Jones to be able to find a way to get Cal out of the hole that they currently find themselves in, but landing a recruiter the likes of Grace will certainly help ensure that Cal ends up relevant sooner rather than later.

Wichita State to lose second player to transfer

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Already staring down the barrel of a rebuilding year, Wichita State is now losing a projected starter next season to transfer.

Austin Reaves, who played through a banged up shoulder to start 11 games and average 8.1 points while shooting 42.5 percent from three, has asked for and was given his release to transfer out of the program on Thursday. Reaves is the second scholarship player to ask for a transfer this offseason, joining C.J. Keyser in leaving.

This is a brutal blow for a Wichita State team that is already reeling from the graduation of six seniors and the loss of star point guard Landry Shamet to the NBA draft. As it currently stands, just four scholarship players return for Wichita State next season: Markis McDuffie, Samajae Haynes-Jones, Asbjorn Midtgaard and Rod Brown.

DiVincenzo to test NBA draft waters

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The Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player is testing the water to see if the NBA will let him have next.

Villanova announced on Thursday that Donte DiVincenzo, who scored a career-high 31 points in the national title game two weeks ago, will declare for the draft but will not hire an agent so as to preserve his collegiate eligibility.

“Donte has consistently improved in his time at Villanova through dedication and a commitment to our core values,” stated Wildcats head coach Jay Wright. “His play this season has created a unique opportunity for him to receive feedback from NBA teams in the draft process. We support Donte fully and our staff will work together with him and his family to help him assess the next step in his basketball career.”

At this point, every relevant Villanova player has announced what their intention is for the NBA draft. Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges are heading to the NBA. Phil Booth and Eric Paschall are returning to school, and barring a shock decision to transfer or to declare for the draft, both Collin Gillispie and Jermaine Samuels will be as well.

That leaves Divincenzo and Omari Spellman, both of whom have declared for the draft without signing with an agent.

What those two decide to do could end up determining who college basketball’s best is next season, and there is no easy answer here for either of them.

We’ve been over this with Spellman already. At 6-foot-9, Spellman is already an elite shooter for someone his size. He’s also down to a svelte 245 pounds, which has turned him into a much more impressive athlete than he was when he first arrived on the Main Line. He’s more explosive. He’s a better shot-blocker and rebounder. He’s much better at attacking closeouts. As it stands, he’s got a shot to be a late first round pick should he remain in the draft.

The same can be said for DiVincenzo, a 6-foot-5 off-guard that is a streaky scorer with range and athleticism that can operate in ball-screens actions. He’s coming off one of the most impressive performances that we’ve seen in a national title game ever, which means that the memory that everyone is going to have of DiVincenzo is of him raining threes, blocking players at the rim and winking into the crowd.

But that’s not what NBA scouts are going to necessarily remember of him.

Villanova might not have been appointment viewing for people that wanted to see the next crop of superstars play, but they were on every NBA team’s list of teams that they needed to see. That’s what happens when there are five potential pros on the roster, including a top ten pick in Bridges and the National Player of the Year in Brunson.

Put another way, NBA personnel are very, very familiar with DiVincenzo. They know that he is a streaky scorer that can go off for 20 points in a half or 30 points in a game. They know that he is a plus athlete that can guard different positions despite the fact that his wingspan is all that massive. They also know he is a guy who doesn’t always make great decisions and can really struggle when he has to handle the ball against pressure.

Like Spellman, DiVincenzo is a borderline first round pick that is more likely to end up being snatched up in the early-to-mid second round if they remain in the draft.

The question they need to ask themselves is whether or not they feel that where they get selection could be drastically altered by returning to school, and I do think there is some reason to believe that to be the case. For starters, there are places where both players can improve to become more highly-regarded prospects, but I think what would be more relevant is that, if they both do return, we could be looking at a situation where both are preseason all-americans for a preseason top three team.

Hell, I don’t think it’s out of the question that DiVincenzo will be a Preseason National Player of the Year candidate, Spellman a preseason first-team all-american and Villanova the preseason No. 1 team in the country.

And if that is the case, one would assume that DiVincenzo — like Bridges and Josh Hart before him — could put together the kind of season that would see him shoot up draft boards. The same with Spellman.

But what’s more relevant for this space is that with both of those players in the fold, Villanova would once again be a national title contender and the overwhelming favorite to win a down-Big East conference.

Without them?

Villanova will be looking at having a rotation that includes three sophomores and three freshmen, which is not close to the ideal for Jay Wright. They’ll still be good, but we won’t be talking about them as a team that can win a title, at least not at the start of the season.

There is no hyperbole when I say that what DiVincenzo and Spellman decide to do will drastically alter the landscape of college basketball for the 2018-19 season.