Daniel Martin

Marshall Henderson

Marshall Henderson will return to Ole Miss for senior season

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Marshall Henderson will return to Ole Miss for his senior season, but perhaps his antics will not. Whether we are to believe that second claim or not, Henderson explained both in a letter to Rebel fans posted on the school’s website Wednesday.

“I play the game with a lot of passion, and sometimes that passion boils over,” he wrote. “I take responsibility for my actions this season and apologize to anyone I offended. However, my edge on the court has made me the player that I am. I can’t change that, but I do understand that I can take things too far.

“I have come to understand this year that I represent this team and this university, and I have to hold myself to a higher standard than people in the stands, because I am a student-athlete at Ole Miss.”

Henderson led the SEC in scoring with 20.1 points per game this season and helped to lead the Rebels to an SEC tournament title and automatic bid in the NCAA tournament. Ole Miss beat Wisconsin in the Round of 64, but fell to La Salle in the following round.

“I want to help build this program and that means I need to be a leader for my teammates both on and off the court,” he continued. “The spotlight on the court means my actions affect more than just me, and I need to show my teammates that I can be a leader for this team.”

It is yet to be determined whether Henderson would find a role on an NBA team, especially considering that his game is essentially one-dimensional as a scorer and not a facilitator or defensive presence. He is also a volume shooter, which limits his possible role at the next level. There will not be a team willing to give him the 15 shots per game, including nearly 11 from three-point range, that he is accustomed to getting to reach the 20-point mark on a nightly basis.

But regardless, the Marshall Henderson Show will be back at Ole Miss for another season.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Old Big East to be renamed American Athletic Conference

Mike Aresco
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The conference formerly known as the Big East, having reached a deal with the so-called “Catholic 7” to give up its name, has been searching in recent weeks for a new moniker. According to a release, it has found one.

The old Big East will now be known as the American Athletic Conference, the conference announced in a statement Wednesday. The league also announced via its Twitter page that it would refer to itself as “The American” and not the conference’s acronym, AAC.

“We worked with our institutions, sports marketing experts, media partners, and also solicited opinions and reactions from collegiate sports fans to create a compelling list of names,” said commissioner Mike Aresco.  “Versions that included the word ‘American’ led every list.  American Athletic Conference represents a strong, durable and aspirational name for our reinvented Conference.”

Beginning at the start of the 2014-15 season, the 11-team conference will feature nine programs that were once members of Conference USA. Only Connecticut and Temple have come from other leagues. Navy will be added as a football-only member in 2015, also not a member of Conference USA. But all movement may not yet be done.

With pieces still shifting on the realignment landscape, there is still a possibility that Connecticut and Cincinnati could make a move and join another conference. Both schools have expressed interest in moving elsewhere in the past.

The American currently has television rights deals with CBS Sports and ESPN.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Kevin Ware wants to be an inspiration to his Louisville team at Final Four (VIDEO)

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The injury to Louisville guard Kevin Ware has drawn the attention of a national audience, but he appears to be in good spirits after undergoing surgery to repair the compound fracture and being released from the hospital.

Ware has been cleared by doctors to make the trip with the team to the Final Four and took time to answer questions from the media Wednesday prior to his team’s trip. He recounted how important encouragement was from teammate Luke Hancock was in the immediate moments after the injury.

“He got me to that point where I really had to put the pain on hold,” said Ware, as reported by the AP. “Once he said his prayer, I was kind of thinking the whole time, `you can either be a crybaby about it or you’re going to get your team back and get them in the right mindset’.”

The injury he suffered was nearly unimaginable for a sport like basketball, but the days since have brought an outpouring of support from fans, other players, and media personalities. He will be on the sidelines when the Cardinals take on Wichita State on Saturday.

“I had no idea I would get this kind of attention,” he said. “I’m one of those guys who just likes to play basketball. But the injury opened up a lot of peoples’ eyes and I really appreciate all the support. It really means a lot.”

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Cal’s Allen Crabbe will declare for 2013 NBA draft

Allen Crabbe
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California junior Allen Crabbe will forego his final season of college eligibility and enter the 2013 NBA draft, the school announced in a statement Wednesday.

Crabbe is coming off a season in which he led the Pac-12 with 18.4 points per game, along with 6.1 rebounds. He was also named the conference’s Player of the Year. Cal finished 21-12 on the year, including 12-6 in the conference. The team lost to Syracuse in the Round of 32 of the NCAA tournament.

(CLICK HERE to follow along with who is turning pro and who is returning to school.)

“It has been a dream of mine to play at the next level for a long time and I feel deep down in my heart this is the right decision,” Crabbe said in the release. “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Cal and learned a lot from my coaches and teammates. I will miss a lot of people at this University both in basketball and in school. I will always be a Golden Bear at heart.”

Crabbe is a volume shooter with NBA size as a wing player. Draft Express has him slated to be selected with the first pick of the second round in this year’s draft, 31st overall.

“Allen is an exceptional player and even greater person,” Cal head coach Mike Montgomery said. “He is very talented with a tremendous work ethic and will represent Cal well at the next level. We are proud of all that Allen has accomplished here at Cal and wish him the best in his professional career.”

Crabbe was at the center of a headline-making incident between himself and Montgomery, when the coach pushed him on the sidelines during a come-from-behind win over USC.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Rick Pitino, politicians, coaches, players react to Mike Rice’s firing

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In the wake of a leaked video tape that led to the firing of Rutgers coach Mike Rice, coaches, politicians, and players have reacted. Most are in line with the opinion of the Rutgers administration, approving of the firing of Mike Rice. Some former players defended Rice or at least helped to give the situation context. Look at the list below:

Louisville coach Rick Pitino:

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Rutgers senior center Austin Johnson, via NJ Hoops Haven:

“It’s been really unfortunate. I feel a lot of times people get really wrapped up in emotion and they forget he (Rice) has a family. There’s always another side to the story.”

“I feel really bad right now. He (Rice) wears his emotions on his sleeve and he’s such an intense person who has such a great desire to win, and often I felt like that gets perceived as a little crazy.”

“You…have to take into account he rest of the practice and everything else that goes into a basketball program as a whole. You can’t judge everything based on a however-long video.”

New Jersey governor Chris Christie:

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), via Newark Star-Ledger:

On Rice’s behavior: “unacceptable and beyond common decency”

“Why is it that we are only finding out the facts now, months after this occurred?” Sweeney said in a statement. “… Rutgers needs to explain why this was kept essentially secret.”

Andy Glockner, Sports Illustrated

Dick Vitale, ESPN

Jeff Goodman, CBSSports.com

Rob Dauster, NBCSports.com

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Report: FIU coach Richard Pitino close to finalizing deal with Minnesota

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To follow along with the 2013 Coaching Carousel, click here.

While his dad is headed to the Final Four in Atlanta with Louisville, a report says that FIU head coach Richard Pitino could steal at least a share of the family spotlight this week.

According to Andy Katz of ESPN.com, Minnesota is finalizing a deal to make Pitino its head coach and fill the vacancy that was created with the firing of Tubby Smith on March 25.

Pitino coached FIU to an 18-14 overall record this past season, including 11-9 in Sun Belt play. He came within one game securing an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament, but his team lost to Western Kentucky in the conference tournament championship game.

If the move happens, it would be a bold one for the Gophers. But Pitino, 30, has experience as a high-major assistant at Louisville with his father and at Florida under head coach Billy Donovan. Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague was at Virginia Commonwealth when he gave another one-time assistant, Shaka Smart, his first major head coaching break.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_