Rob Dauster

Dillon Brooks, Grayson Allen and the stupidity of the latest controversy

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The incident involving Grayson Allen and Dillon Brooks at the end of No. 1 Oregon’s 82-68 win over No. 4 Duke has become a ‘thing’, a talking point for the people that hate Duke and Allen and Coach K to jump all over.

Which is ridiculous.

Because calling this ‘an incident’ is making too much out of something that really was nothing.

Here’s how it started: Brooks, after Duke had clearly thrown in the towel, drilled a 27-foot three with about six seconds left on the clock after head coach Dana Altman told him to shoot. He celebrated the shot with a fist pump and a yell:

There’s really nothing wrong with that. It’s not a great look for Brooks — running up the score, sportsmanship, all of that — but whatever. It’s more or less harmless, even if it does ruffle the feathers of the Blue Devils.

Where people seem to have taken umbridge here is with Allen’s reaction, and that’s mostly because the announcer said on the broadcast that Allen shoved Brooks away from him.

That’s not exactly accurate. Watch the video below and tell me what you think Allen did wrong:

Is he supposed to celebrate with Brooks? Hug him back after the dude just ended Allen’s season and, quite possibly, his Duke career? In fact, given how competitive and intense Allen is — and considering his track record in situations like this — I’d argue that this showed a bit more maturity than we’ve seen out of him this season. But since it’s Grayson Allen, and since the announcer made a much bigger deal out of this run-in than he should have, it became a ‘thing’.

If there is anyone that deserves to be criticized here, it’s probably Coach K.

After the game, he was caught on camera saying something to Brooks where it appears Brooks responds with, “my bad”. You can see the interaction here:

Brooks told SI.com that Coach K told him he’s “too good of a player to be showing off at the end.” He agreed, adding “I have to learn from those things.” In the postgame press conference, Coach K initially said that he congratulated Brooks and told him he’s a terrific player. After he was asked about Brooks’ interpretation of the conversation, he said, “I didn’t say that. You can say whatever you want. Dillon Brooks is a hell of a player. I said, ‘You’re a terrific player.’ And you can take whatever he said and then go with it, all right?”

Now, I’ve always subscribed to the theory that you should coach your own team. Even if there is some truth in what Coach K apparently said to Brooks, it probably should be Altman — and not the opposing head coach, regardless of his standing in the basketball community — that says something.

But on the other hand, would we have even noticed this if it wasn’t Coach K involved? If it was Allen that the announcer said shoved Brooks? If this was anyone other than Duke?

You know the answer to that question.

And since when do we require our athletes to be best friends? We complain about how AAU basketball and the summer camp tours have made all of these elite prospects friends from an early age, but then rip then when they show a little bit of competitiveness?

Of course Brooks is going to be fired up that he went for 22 points, six assists and five boards as the Ducks beat one of the nation’s premier programs en route to an Elite 8 that no one thought they’d get to.

And of course the Duke players and coaching staff are going to be pissed they lost and peeved that Brooks ended the game the way he ended the game.

If — and let me stress the if — anyone did anything wrong here, it was the announcer for making the interaction out to be something that it wasn’t and Coach K reprimanding an opposing player in a spot where a national television audience could witness the exchange.

Beyond that, all this kerfuffle did was take way from the fact that Oregon looked damned good on Thursday night, good enough to get to a Final Four, maybe good enough to win a national title. But instead of talking about how the Ducks are putting on for their league, we’re stuck arguing about something that is so insignificant that it shouldn’t even have been mentioned in the first place.

No. 1 Kansas is back in the Elite 8 after knocking off No. 5 Maryland

Kansas' Frank Mason III (0), Landen Lucas (33), Devonte' Graham (4), Wayne Selden Jr. (1) and Perry Ellis (34) gather during the second half of a second-round men's college basketball game against Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. Kansas won 73-61. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Perry Ellis went off for 27 points and Wayne Selden added 19 points, seven boards and six assists as No. 1 seed Kansas pulled away from No. 5 Maryland in the second half of a 79-63 Sweet 16.

The Jayhawks hit eight straight shots to start the second half, using a 9-0 spurt to break a 43-all tie and get some separation from the Terps. Maryland had some chances to get back into the game, but they couldn’t string together enough good offensive possessions to mount a real challenge.

Kind of a microcosm of their season, wouldn’t you say?

But we’re here to talk about the Jayhawks, as they advance to (get this) Bill Self’s eighth Elite 8 and his sixth as the head coach of the Jayhawks. It’s the first time they’ve advanced this far in the tournament since Thomas Robinson carried KU to within an Anthony Davis of the 2012 National Title.

The narrative on this team is that they don’t really have a star. Ellis has been phenomenal all season long, almost to the point that slotting him as an NBCSports.com third-team all-american is unjust. But as an opposing coach, he doesn’t terrify you the same way that, say, Buddy Hield or Denzel Valentine or Yogi Ferrell does.

No one on Kansas does, really.

And that’s kind of what makes them so good.

One night, it might be Ellis going for 27 and Selden getting 19 points and seven assists. On another night — like, oh, I don’t know, at Oklahoma — Devonte’ Graham might pop off for 27 points and slow down Buddy Hield. And while Frank Mason hasn’t had to do as much this season as he did last season, I think that he proved last year that he’s capable of putting this team on his back if it is needed.

What was impressive on Thursday night was that Landen Lucas once again looked like the best big man on the floor against a team with two pros in the pivot. Diamond Stone and Robert Carter are both going to play in the NBA one day, and Lucas popped off for 14 points and 11 boards, grabbing four offensive rebounds and blocking a shot. Stone and Carter combined for 13 points and 10 boards.

And to me, that’s the x-factor for this Kansas team.

When Lucas plays like this they can truly reach their ceiling.

Because you know what you’re going to get from most of the other guys on the roster. The question mark for this Kansas team — and, basically, for the Kansas program since Joel Embiid got injured — has been their interior play. Cliff Alexander was never the guy that could anchor the post defensively. He couldn’t block shots or rebound the way Kansas needed him to. Cheick Diallo hasn’t been able to do that, either.

But Lucas seems to have taken over that role.

And Kansas is better off for it.

No. 2 Villanova rolls No. 3 Miami behind scorching shooting of Kris Jenkins

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Remember when we questioned whether or not No. 2 seed Villanova would be able to win in March given how much they shot from beyond the arc?

Remember when we were saying that the Wildcats wouldn’t be able to shed the label of being a good regular season team in an overrated Big East if they kept firing up nearly 44 percent of their field goal attempts from beyond the arc?

Because I remember saying all of that.

And I now feel foolish for doing so, as the Wildcats landed their third straight blowout win to advance to the Elite 8, smacking around No. 3 seed Miami, 92-69, to get to the South Region final in Louisville. They will play the winner of tonight’s game between No. 1 Kansas and No. 5 Maryland.

The criticisms that were lobbed at Villanova earlier in the season were totally justified. After the Wildcats were embarrassed by Oklahoma in Hawai’i in December, it was fair to wonder whether or not this was a team that needed to change who they were. At the time, they were shooting nearly half of their field goal attempts from beyond the three-point line and hitting them at a less-than 31 percent clip. That’s not good, and while it slowly improved throughout the season — that’s what happens when shot selection becomes a larger focus of the offense — this was a Villanova team whose question marks this season were a major storyline because of the way the Wildcats had exited the tournament the last two seasons.

They exorcised those demons on Sunday when they got to the second weekend of the event. That came after they smacked around an Iowa team that no one in their right mind trusted after the way the Hawkeyes collapsed.

But Thursday night’s win was different.

Because No. 3 Miami had the look of a real Final Four contender. They had as much size and athleticism as any team left in the tournament, and when you combine that with the talent they had in the back court — Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan, JaQuan Newton, Davon Reed — and Tonye Jekiri’s ability to own the paint defensively, it wasn’t a surprise that Miami had made it this far. That was a good basketball team with a good coach that was playing as well as they had all season long.

Then Villanova showed up.

And the Wildcats won by 23 points despite the fact that Miami shot 53.2 percent from the floor and 10-for-17 (58.8%) from three. Do you realize how hard it is to shoot that well and lose by that much?

Villanova shot 62.7 percent from the floor, they shot 10-for-15 (66.7%) from three and they forced 12 turnovers, many of which were of the live-ball, pick-six variety. And it wasn’t like the Wildcats were getting great looks, either. Ryan Arcidiacono, who finished with 21 points and four assists, hit some ridiculously tough shots in the first half that got Villanova going, and while Daniel Ochefu and Josh Hart both got it going a little bit, the difference-maker here was Kris Jenkins.

Jenkins has been playing absolutely out of his mind for the last month. He finished with 21 points, nine boards and four assists, hitting 8-for-10 from the floor and 5-for-6 from three, including the 30-foot bomb you see above. Jenkins has made at least two three-pointers in each of the last 11 games, scoring more than 15 points in 10 of the 11 and at least 20 points in six of those 10.

When Jenkins gets into a rhythm like this it makes Villanova a nightmare to try and defend. Both Jenkins and Hart skilled enough offensively that they’ll eat up any power forward that gets put on them, and Hart’s toughness and athleticism allows him to make up for the lack of size at the forward spot on both the offensive glass and defensively. They can switch, they can zone, they can play straight man-to-man, they can change on every possession.

All that has been in their repertoire before, the issue previously was that they weren’t consistent enough offensively.

That has not been the case in this tournament.

Villanova is now shooting 33-for-62 from three in the three games in this event. For those scoring at home, that’s 53.2 percent. And on Thursday, against a Miami team that has the size, the length and the athleticism to be a deterrent to Villanova’s forays into the lane, the Wildcats shot less than 30 percent of their field goal attempts from beyond the arc. In the tournament as a whole, only 38.2 percent of Villanova’s field goal attempts are from beyond the arc.

It’s amazing what shot selection will do to a shooting percentage.

It’s amazing what seeing a few jumpers go in will do for a team’s confidence.

And if Villanova can find a way to shoot at this clip for one more game, Jay Wright will be on his way back to the Final Four for the first time since 2009.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr offers support to Cal coach Martin

Cuonzo Martin
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave a social media shout out to California coach Cuonzo Martin on Wednesday to offer his support and thanks during a rough stretch for the Golden Bears program.

Kerr’s son, Nick, was a walk-on reserve guard under Martin this past season – and Kerr is so thankful his son had such a great experience.

The university announced last Wednesday that it was reviewing whether Martin properly handled sexual harassment allegations made by a female reporter against Yann Hufnagel, fired ahead of the team’s trip to Spokane, Washington, where fourth-seeded Cal lost to Hawaii in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

Kerr wrote Wednesday on Twitter: “Huge thank you to (at)CuonzoMartin and (at)CalMensBBall for taking care of my son (at)NickZKerr this season. Fantastic experience, exceptional people.”

While Kerr didn’t want to discuss specifics of Cal’s situation, he said he respects Martin as a coach and positive influence on his son.

“My son was a walk-on there this year. He had an incredible experience with his teammates, with the coaching staff, with Cuonzo,” Kerr said before Golden State hosted the Los Angeles Clippers. “I wanted to say thanks for the season that Cal had and for the experience that my son had. All I wanted to vouch for was his character. He’s been an incredible mentor for my son, phenomenal coach and I just wanted to say thanks for that. I know that the program is going through some turmoil with the issue that’s happening. … I just know from my son and getting to know Cuonzo what kind of person he is, and I wanted to support him.”

Florida State’s Bacon to submit name for NBA draft

Florida State 's Dwayne Bacon (4) drives to the basket as Florida Atlantic's Jeantal Cylla, left, defends in the first half of the NCAA college Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Sunrise, Fla. Florida State defeated Florida Atlantic 64-59. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State freshman Dwayne Bacon announced Wednesday night that he will submit his name for the NBA draft but will not hire an agent.

The 6-foot-7 guard made the announcement on his Twitter account and it was confirmed by a school spokesman.

Bacon is taking advantage of a new rule that allows underclassmen to attend the May 10-15 NBA draft combine to get feedback from teams and then decide their future as long as they haven’t signed with an agent. The deadline to withdraw from the draft is May 25.

The Martin twins, Caleb and Cody, are leaving N.C. State

Florida State's Malik Beasley, left, struggles for possession of the ball with North Carolina State's Cody Martin, right, and Caleb Martin during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Twins Caleb and Cody Martin announced on Thursday that they will be transferring out of the N.C. State program.

Along with Cat Barber, who is headed to the NBA Draft, this means that the Wolfpack will be losing three of their top five scorers from last season. Caleb averaged 11.5 points last season while Cody chipped in with 6.0 points.

“Through a series of honest, thoughtful and somewhat surprising conversations we have had in the days since our season ended, Caleb and Cody have informed me of their desire to explore options that they believe are in both of their best interests,” N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried said in a statement. “While I don’t share all of their views, I have certainly come to understand and respect the unique dynamic and special bond that exists between identical twins, especially when they play the same sport for the same team. I enjoyed coaching them over the past two years.”

Part of the motivation for the twins’ transfer is that the Wolfpack perimeter is crowded. Dennis Smith Jr. will join the program next season, as will transfer Torin Dorn. Terry Henderson returns from injury and Maverick Rowan is back for his sophomore season. That doesn’t include Shaun Kirk or anyone that Mark Gottfried is able to add this spring.

And he will be adding people, whether it’s through graduate transfers or freshmen from overseas. The Wolfpack are currently down to just eight scholarship players.