Sweet 16

Duke v Louisville

Louisville’s Kevin Ware undergoes successful two-hour procedure on fractured leg

6 Comments
This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

According to a release from the school, Louisville sophomore guard Kevin Ware underwent a successful two-hour surgical procedure on his fractured right leg.

Ware suffered the injury when he landed awkwardly after challenging a Tyler Thornton jumper with 6:33 remaining in the first half of the Cardinals’ 85-63 win over Duke in the Midwest regional final.

Ware will remain at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis until at least Tuesday, and the school is hopeful that he can travel with the team to next weekend’s Final Four in Atlanta (Ware finished his high school career at Rockdale County HS in Conyers, Ga.).

Ware had the bone re-set, the wound from the injury closed and a rod inserted in his right tibia during approximately two hours of surgery.

Ware will remain in Indianapolis until at least Tuesday, when he is hopeful to return to Louisville and then join the Cardinals as they advance to the NCAA Final Four in Atlanta. A timetable has not been set for a return to basketball competition.

How long the recovery process will be for Ware is unknown at this stage.

But according to Dr. Frederick Azar, a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and chief of staff at Cambell Clinic in Memphis, recovery can take anywhere from three to six months provided there are no complications.

[Louisville head coach Rick] Pitino told reporters that Ware would be out of  commission for a year, but Azar said that if surgery went well and there were no nerve complications or infections, the young, healthy player could be back on the court in time for next season, or within six months.

Head coach Rick Pitino and son Richard, who just completed his first season as head coach at FIU after being an assistant on his father’s staff, will visit with Ware tonight and early Monday morning according to multiple reports.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Duke runs out of answers in second half against Louisville

Duke v Louisville
6 Comments
This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Despite 10 first-half turnovers and three fouls for senior forward Ryan Kelly the Duke Blue Devils trailed Louisville by just three points at the half, 35-32. With those two facts in mind the Blue Devils had to like their chances against the tournament’s top overall seed.

But after a solid start to the second half Duke found itself on the wrong end of a dominant performance, as their struggles on both ends of the floor would ultimately result in an 85-63 Louisville victory.

Duke shot 32% overall and 2-of-10 from three in the second half as they were outscored 50-31 by the Cardinals. With just two second-half turnovers one would assume that the Blue Devils would be in very good shape. But even with the lack of turnovers the ball ended up being funneled into positions where Duke could not hurt Louisville.

“What they do, and Rick’s done an amazing job with them, because they have depth and they keep coming at you, but they make you have multiple decision‑makers,” said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “You have to have more than one guy making a decision out on the court.

“And in switching their defenses and their quickness and their athleticism, you have to‑‑ it’s tough to run plays.  You have to make plays against them.”

As for the other end of the floor, Louisville struggled to shoot from the perimeter (2-of-13 3PT) outside of a few mid-range jumpers from center Gorgui Dieng and a couple long twos from Peyton Siva.

But their ability to crack the Blue Devil defense and get into the paint proved to be the difference.

The Cardinals shot 59% from the field and 16-of-23 from the foul line in the second half, making 14 of their 19 shots from inside of the arc. That proved to be too much for Duke to overcome given their offensive struggles.

Duke will look to account for the graduation of Kelly, Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee (not to mention assistant Chris Collins, who is the new head coach at Northwestern), and the addition of players such as Matt Jones, Jabari Parker and Semi Ojeleye will help and the same goes for Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood.

On this day however, Duke simply ran into a better team.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Dominant second half punches Louisville’s ticket to Atlanta

Duke v Louisville
3 Comments

In the aftermath of the gruesome injury suffered by guard Kevin Ware in the first half, it was anyone’s guess how top overall seed Louisville would perform in the second half of the Midwest regional final against 2-seed Duke.

But after a slow start to the second stanza Rick Pitino’s team played at a very high level, blowing the game wide open with their ability to get to the paint at will and winning by the final score of 85-63.

Russ Smith paced the Cardinals, who are making their second consecutive trip to the Final Four, with 23 points while Peyton Siva added 16 points and Gorgui Dieng 14 and nine rebounds.

MORE: Louisville’s reaction to Ware injury wasn’t a surprise

Louisville shot 1-of-12 from beyond the arc but they haven’t been a particularly good three-point shooting team this season, hitting just 33.1% of their shots entering Sunday’s game.

But the Cardinals made up for it with points in the paint, outscoring the Blue Devils 42-30 and also tallying 14 second-chance points (to just five for Duke).

MORE: Duke runs out of answers in second half

Louisville will take on West Region champion Wichita State on Saturday, and if Rick Pitino’s team can attack the basket as they have since the Big East tournament the Cardinals will be tough to knock off.

Was there a dominant team in college basketball during the regular season? No.

But with the Cardinals playing as they have it’s difficult to argue that Louisville is not the prohibitive favorite to cut down the nets next Monday night.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Michigan blows out Florida, headed to first Final Four in 20 years

Michigan v Florida
12 Comments
This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

The outcome of the South Region final between 3-seed Florida and 4-seed Michigan was decided in the game’s first four minutes.

John Beilein’s Wolverines scored the first 13 points of the game and led by as many as 24 points in the first half on their way to a 79-59 victory at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Tex., resulting in the program’s first Final Four since 1993.

This will be Beilein’s first Final Four appearance, as his 2005 West Virginia team fell in the Elite Eight.

The catalyst in the first 20 minutes was freshman guard Nik Stauskas, who made just two of his 12 three-point attempts in Michigan’s first three NCAA tournament games. Against Florida, who in the first half defended the Canadian as if they assumed his cold stretch would continue, Stauskas hit his first seven shots from the field (six from beyond the arc) on the way to scoring a game-high 22 points.

Fellow freshman Mitch McGary continued his good play in the NCAA tournament, scoring 11 points, grabbing nine rebounds and outplaying Florida junior Patric Young (eight points, seven rebounds) for much of the contest.

MORE: Mental miscues, questionable coaching decisions doom Gators

Trey Burke, who apparently has been battling a bug of sorts this weekend, didn’t shot well from the field (5-of-16) but he did dish out seven assists with just one turnover. As a team the Wolverines shot 10-of-19 from beyond the arc and 46.2% overall, proving to be too much for the Gator defense.

Next up for the Wolverines is East Region champion Syracuse, which will offer up the enticing matchup of Jim Boeheim’s famed 2-3 zone and John Beilein’s offensive attack that doesn’t lack for perimeter shooters.

MORE: Photos from the Elite Eight

One player the Wolverines will need to get untracked next weekend is junior Tim Hardaway Jr., who shot just 3-of-13 and scored nine points against Florida. But they entered Sunday with a similar concern regarding Stauskas, and we see what happened there.

There’s no doubt that Trey Burke is one of the nation’s best players but his teammates are stepping up at the right time. Two more wins? There’s no doubt that Michigan is capable of winning two in Atlanta.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Marquette had enough talent to win in March, but not enough to play to April

Syracuse Orange Keita blocks Marquette Golden Eagles Mayo during the first half in their East Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Washington
3 Comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Marquette has seen the Syracuse 2-3 zone before. They’ve seen it a lot, both in-person and on film. In fact, they’ve beaten the zone this year, a 74-71 win back on February 25th.

But the teams that survive and advance late into March are usually equipped with a handful future NBA players, maybe even an all-star or two.

On Saturday in the East regional finals, Marquette’s talent was no match for Syracuse’s talent, and the final score reflected this, a 55-39 win for the Orange.

Vander Blue led the Golden Eagles with 14 points, but needed 15 field goal attempts to get there. Davante Gardner finished with 11 points, but scored just two points in the second half. And to make matters worse, the Orange got strong performances from their top guys. Michael Carter-Williams, who was named the MVP of the East Region, finished with 12 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals. James Southerland led all players with 16 points, and C.J. Fair provided 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks.

Syracuse’s players played better than Marquette’s players.

Marquette struggled to hit open shots from the wings, and were unable to cut through the interior of the 2-3 zone. They made just 12 field goals on 55 attempts (22.6%) and just three 3-pointers on 24 attempts (12.5%). But their struggles weren’t because of a lack of effort or a bad game plan.

“Syracuse was the better team, they had better players. They have pros,” said Buzz Williams, who advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in his five years at Marquette. “I think they probably have guys on their team that after they win the national championship may not play for Syracuse anymore. It is the zone, and it is the players in the zone.

Simply put, this Marquette team is not built to beat a team from the perimeter. This is not a team with an elite front court. Marquette’s best 3-point shooter is Jamil Wilson, who entered the game 38-for-95 from beyond the arc (38%), and finished the contest with just three points on 1-for-9 shooting, including 0-for-5 from beyond the arc.

Marquette can scrap with just about any team in the country, but if you force them out of their comfort zone, they are just like any other good-but-not-great college basketball team.

“I just think they flat-out played better than us from start to finish,” said Junior Cadougan, who finished with just six points. “Coach said we did everything possible to put us in a better situation, but we didn’t get consecutive stops and they did a great job.”

Perhaps Marquette believed that they could shoot as well against Syracuse as they did against Miami on Thursday. The Golden Eagles shot 27-for-50 from the field against the Hurricanes, unquestionably one of their top shooting performances of the season.But against Syracuse, they had stretches of five and six minutes in the first half where they failed to score a field goal.

Marquette has both in-game experience against the 2-3 zone, and a coaching staff that excels at game tape analysis. But one of the tools you need in order to beat a lanky zone like Syracuse’s is a perimeter attack, and there is a reason Marquette is ranked 310th in the nation in three-point percentage.

Maybe this loss means we should be giving Buzz Williams even more credit for the job he’s done with this team. On paper, Marquette is a top-25 team. But on the court, they have, at times, played like a top-10 team. You never have to question the heart, determination or toughness of a Buzz Williams-coached team. Buzz Williams has made a living off of getting good players to play hard.

“Well, he’s a tremendous basketball coach,” said Boeheim during Friday’s pregame press conference. “He’s done a tremendous job. They have a very good team. I just look at the players on the team, I don’t look at the hype. They have very good players. They’re very good defensively. They can score inside, they can score outside. They handle the ball, they don’t make mistakes.”

This was Marquette’s eighth-consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and their third straight Sweet 16. But this was just their first trip past the Sweet 16 since some guy named Dwayne Wade led the Golden Eagles to the Final Four in 2003. Sure Marquette has produced NBA players since 2003, guys like Lazar Hayward, Wesley Matthews and Jae Crowder. I’d be willing to bet that at least one player from this current team makes it to the NBA.

But you need elite talent to win a National Championship. In March, teams with more talent tend to win out, and on Saturday, that’s exactly what happened.

You can contact Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir.

Report: Racial discrimination led to Arsalan Kazemi leaving Rice for Oregon

Oregon's Dotson and Kazemi celebrate in the closing moments of the Ducks' win over Saint Louis during their NCAA basketball tournament third round game in San Jose
1 Comment

In the months following the 2011-12 season there was a mass exodus of sorts from the Rice basketball program, as multiple players decided that they would be better off finishing their respective careers elsewhere.

Originally the thought of many was that the school’s decision to not renew the contract of assistant coach Marco Morcos as the reason why players such as Oregon’s Arsalan Kazemi and USC’s Omar Oraby decided to leave. But according to a report from Thayer Evans of SI.com there was more at play than the simple decision to not bring back Morcos.

In Evans’ story it is alleged that Rice athletics director Rick Greenspan directed insulting and discriminatory remarks towards Morcos, Kazemi, Oraby and Ahmad Ibrahim on multiple occasions, with the remarks focusing on their respective religions and ethnicities.

Ibrahim, unlike Kazemi and Oraby, decided to play professionally in Lebanon instead of transferring to another four-year institution.

On Thursday, Kazemi, who is Muslim, declined to answer questions about the allegations he made against Greenspan in his hardship waiver request. “I won’t talk about that,” Kazemi said.

Greenspan, who was hired as Rice’s athletic director in March 2010, denied all of Kazemi’s allegations. “I’m glad he’s having success in the postseason, but we at the university categorically deny any allegations of discriminatory treatment that might be claimed during his time at Rice,” said Greenspan, who was previously the athletic director at Indiana and Army.

Morcos, who is of Egyptian descent and was responsible for a number of the foreign recruits who joined head coach Ben Braun’s program, filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in regards to the discrimination he encountered and the hostile work environment at Rice.

In Kazemi’s request for a hardship waiver, which was granted by the NCAA after he missed Oregon’s first two games of the season, he noted multiple situations in which Greenspan directed such comments towards the players.

Kazemi also accused Greenspan of telling him and other players in January 2012, “We only need one more guy to complete the Axis of Evil.”

Another time, Kazemi alleged he was talking in a foreign language to another player and Morcos when Greenspan walked by and told them, “Stop speaking in this language because you could be plotting against us.”

In his one season in Eugene Kazemi is averaging 9.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game for the Ducks, who take on Midwest Region 1-seed Louisville Friday night in Indianapolis. Leaving Rice worked out for Kazemi, who was one of Conference USA’s best front court players during his three seasons at the school.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.