AP Story

Powell sorry for Louisville fallout, says ordeal ‘worth it’

Leave a comment

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Katina Powell said Saturday that she is “so sorry” about the fallout of the sex scandal that resulted in sanctions against Louisville’s basketball program, but added that her experience was “worth surviving.”

In her 2015 book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” Powell alleged that former Cardinals staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players. Several investigations followed, including one by the NCAA that resulted in a decision Thursday to suspend coach Rick Pitino and levy other penalties against Louisville. The NCAA described the activities as “repugnant.”

Powell reiterated that money was her sole motivation for writing the book during a nearly hour-long Facebook Live interview on Saturday with comedian Jason English that was later removed. She said she has dealt with depression since the scandal, but added that everything “was very well worth it.” She’s even been approached about a possible movie and a second book.

“It was worth putting food on the table,” she said. “It was worth me driving what I drive. It was worth me living the way I live.”

Louisville plans to appeal NCAA sanctions that include Pitino’s suspension for five Atlantic Coast Conference games and a 10-year show-cause order for McGee. Powell wrote that McGee paid her $10,000 for 22 shows from 2010-14 in Louisville’s Billy Minardi Hall dormitory.

The governing body also placed Louisville on four years’ probation and ordered the vacation of victories in which ineligible players participated. Players deemed ineligible would be those involved in the sex parties, which are considered impermissible benefits.

Compliance consultant Chuck Smrt estimated that as many as 108 regular season games and 15 NCAA Tournament games are in question, including Louisville’s 2013 national championship and 2012 Final Four appearance. The NCAA accepted Louisville’s self-imposed ban from the 2016 postseason.

During the Facebook Live interview, Powell said she held no grudge with the school, but added that “they knew what it was going in.”

“At the end of the day I have to live with what I did, the decision that I made,” she added.

NCAA extends coaches’ boxes as part of rules change package

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA’s playing rules oversight panel will give college basketball coaches more room to roam next season after approving an extension of the coaches’ boxes from 28 to 38 feet.

Other men’s basketball rules changes include finding more consistent spots for inbound passes.

The shot clock will be reset to 20 seconds when the offensive team draws a foul in the frontcourt. If more than 20 seconds remain there will be no change.

Referees can use instant replay in the final two minutes of the game or overtime to determine whether a secondary defender was inside or outside the restricted-arc area.

A legal screen will require players to keep their feet no wider than their shoulders. And a minimum of 0.3 seconds will be taken off the game clock when the ball is legally touched.

Defenders who straddle an offensive player’s leg and prohibit him from making a normal basketball move, including pivoting, will be assessed a personal foul.

Women’s basketball rule changes included moving the restricted-area arc in the lane to 4 feet. The arc previously had been 3 feet in front of the basket. A secondary defender must be outside the arc and in legal guarding position to draw a charge.

Also in women’s basketball, coaches will be allowed to carry over all timeouts to the second half rather than having one “use it or lose it” first-half timeout. The 10-second backcourt count won’t be reset when a women’s basketball team on offense calls time out. Women’s basketball also approved the same rule change the men adopted in extending the coaches’ boxes from 28 feet to 38 feet.

Women’s basketball officials also will be allowed to use replay to determine if the ball was released on made baskets before the shot clock expired.

US steps up security for U19 basketball tournament in Egypt

Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

John Calipari would prefer to focus on the players he wants and the offense he’ll run.

This time, there are other concerns.

When he leads the U.S. basketball team into the Under-19 World Cup for men, they will travel to Egypt, home to enough violence lately that the Americans questioned whether it was safe enough to even go defend their title.

Calipari spoke to parents seeking answers he didn’t even have for himself, but he knew where he could get them. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is now USA Basketball’s chairman, and a conversation a few weeks ago that detailed the Americans’ security plans and procedures put Calipari’s mind at ease.

“I’m trying to figure out basketball, let alone trying to figure out security and so all I can say to the parents is I’m comfortable making this trip,” the Kentucky coach said. “And believe me, three or four weeks ago I was like, ‘Come on now, talk to me, how are we going to do this?’ And from that point when I was on the phone with Gen. Dempsey, I knew at the end of the day either he was going to feel real comfortable with what was going on or we wouldn’t go.”

USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley said the U.S. and other federations raised concerns with basketball’s governing body a year ago when it selected Cairo to host the July 1-9 event. Any fears only heightened in recent months when more than 100 people were killed since December in four separate attacks targeting Christians claimed by the Islamic State group.

But Dempsey stressed that most of the danger is beyond Cairo, while the capital city is well protected. And Tooley said that during a recent discussion with FIBA it was revealed that security for the event had now fallen under the control of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, rather than the office of sports ministry.

“So while we are very much aware of the challenges of security in Egypt, we have concluded that the venue — that is to say where the games will be played, the hotel, the transit zones — will be secured adequately and gives us confidence to send a team over there,” Dempsey said.

USA Basketball took the unusual step of deciding that the U-19 team would be given the same level of security as an Olympic team, with more staff on the ground and greater intelligence shared. The Americans have been criticized for the lengths they go to comfort their millionaire players, such as staying on a cruise ship rather than the athletes’ village in Rio, but NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant said he’s always felt safe while winning two Olympic golds and a world title with the Americans.

“I’m sure they’ve been doing their work for years in advance on this thing and trying to make sure it’s perfect for the players, so I have no concerns that USA Basketball won’t get it done,” Durant said. “So hopefully everybody’s comfortable going and have a great time and win a gold.”

Though the Americans have won two straight golds in the 16-nation tournament, fielding a team is challenging. Many college coaches would prefer their incoming recruits on campus in summer school, and with the security concerns this time, Tooley figures some players Calipari may have wanted passed on invites to training camp next week.

But Chuma Okeke of Atlanta, who will be a freshman next season at Auburn, will be among the 28 players in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His mother, Renee, reached out to a USA Basketball official with some questions, but ultimately decided to let her son attend after getting the answers and doing enough research on her own into the situation in Egypt that she said she’d even feel comfortable going.

“It was explained to me that the USA Basketball security team is really experienced in that area so I really don’t have any worries,” she said. “They reassured me that my young man will be safe so I’m OK with it. And you know what, even if I wasn’t, I could not stop Chuma from going. I could not. He understands what the climate is but he still wants to go.”

And Dempsey feels the Americans should, not only to give their younger players experience with the international game, but to show FIBA they’re a good partner. With their precautions in place, Dempsey said the Americans have done everything they can to be prepared — and now it’s Calipari’s turn.

“I said, ‘OK Cal, now that we’ve got this behind us, how about you stop worrying about that?'” Dempsey said. “‘We’ll keep worrying about that, you go win us a gold medal.'”

Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter @briancmahoney

Kentucky, then Duke: Utah Valley opens with a brutal back-to-back

Sam Wasson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

OREM, Utah (AP) — Utah Valley is calling it perhaps the toughest 24 hours of basketball in NCAA history.

The Wolverines say they will play at bluebloods Kentucky and Duke on back-to-back days to open the season. They’ll visit Rupp Arena in Lexington on Nov. 10, then head to Cameron Indoor Stadium to play the following day.

In announcing the games Thursday, coach Mark Pope says it “is what college basketball is supposed to be.”

The brutal back-to-back games create a couple of homecomings for the coaching staff. Pope played at Kentucky in the 1990s and helped the Wildcats win the 1996 national title under Rick Pitino. Assistant Chris Burgess played two seasons at Duke in the late ’90s.

Junior guard Mussini leaves St. John’s

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) — Junior guard Federico Mussini has decided to leave St. John’s to pursue a professional basketball career in Europe.

Mussini, who averaged 9.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists, over the past two seasons, made the announcement Tuesday. The native of Reggio Emilia, Italy, played in 62 games, starting 25. He made 112 3-pointers and shot 85.9 percent at the free throw line.

A Big East All-Academic Team selection, Mussini averaged 8.2 points while playing 19.2 minutes in 30 games last season. He finished second on the team with 56 3-pointers on 42.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Louisville, Memphis to meet in Gotham Classic

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) — Louisville and Memphis, former conference opponents, headline the field of the Gotham Classic at Madison Square Garden.

The former Conference USA foes will meet Dec. 16, it was announced Tuesday.

The game at The Garden will mark the 90th time the Cardinals and Tigers will meet with Louisville holding a 53-36 advantage.

Joining the Cardinals and Tigers in the Gotham Classic are Albany, Bryant and Siena.

Louisville and Memphis will each host those three teams in addition to playing at Madison Square Garden.

Albany, Bryant and Siena will also play a round-robin with Siena hosting Albany, Albany hosting Bryant, and Bryant hosting Siena.