Terry Rozier

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Louisville to lose Terry Rozier, Montrezl Harrell to NBA Draft; Anton Gill to transfer

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Rick Pitino announced during a press conference on Monday afternoon that both Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier will be declaring for the NBA Draft.

“They are both leaving,” he told reporters. “100 percent.”

It’s not a surprise that either player is leaving. It was long assumed that Rozier would be off to the NBA after this season, and Harrell actually surprised some folks when he decided to return to school for his junior season.

The Cardinals also lost sophomore guard Anton Gill to transfer on Monday, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Rozier finished his sophomore year averaging 17.1 points and 3.0 assists, proving himself to be one of the smoothest scorers in this year’s draft class. A 6-foot-1 combo-guard, Rozier certainly has the athleticism and scoring ability to play in the NBA, but his lack of pure point guard skills limit his upside.

Harrell averaged 15.7 points and 9.2 boards as a junior, although he didn’t exactly improve his perimeter jumper the way that he had hoped. Harrell, who has a future in a Kenneth Faried-esque role at the next level, shot just 9-for-37 from three this season. Three of those nine threes game in the season-opener against Minnesota.

Draft Express currently projects Harrell as a mid-to-late first round pick while they have Rozier slotted in the early second round.

Gill played in 31 games and averaged 2.5 points per game during his sophomore campaign. He had a key stretch against N.C. State in the Sweet 16 in which Gill had three baskets during a six-minute stretch. The sophomore averaged 9.5 minutes per game.

No. 4 Louisville advances to Elite 8 with 75-65 win over No. 8 NC State

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Louisville, the No. 4 seed in the East Region, took down conference foe NC State, 75-65 , to advance to the program’s third Elite Eight in the last four years.

Terry Rozier led the way with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Montrezl Harrell had a game-high 24 points. Although, arguably the biggest contribution came from reserve guard Anton Gill, the Raleigh, North Carolina native. The sophomore guard was called upon in the second half after Wayne Blackshear picked up his fourth foul with 8:30 remaining. Gill responded by scoring seven of Louisville’s points during a critical 12-3 run.

NC State was up 54-53 when Gill connected on a go-ahead jumper. He followed that with a 3-pointer. After a pair of Rozier free throws, Gill knifed through the lane for a layup.

To put this all in perspective, Gill hadn’t scored a single point since Feb. 28 in a win over Florida State.

That was a month ago. It was during that time that the Cardinals stood at a crossroad in their season. Rick Pitino had dismissed senior guard Chris Jones from the program earlier that week, a necessary move after several off the court incidents. Without one of their top defensive pieces, the Cardinals had their questions entering March. Yet once again, Pitino has the Cards as one of the last eight teams standing:

Tom Izzo has received credit, and rightfully so, for another NCAA tournament run with Michigan State, a team Louisville could potentially face in Sunday’s East Regional final. But Pitino deserves some of his own for the work he’s done with this roster. Sure, Louisville has future NBA Draft picks Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier, but he’s also had to rely heavily on freshman guard Quentin Snider, and has been forced to turn to players like Gill. Even without Jones, Louisville’s defense has been effective, holding teams to under 40 percent shooting in the last two tournament games.

Critics will say Pitino has had an easy route to the Elite Eight. Northern Iowa was underseeded at No. 5, don’t make any mistake about that. Take a look at NC State’s roster. It doesn’t really fit a No. 8 seed’s profile. The Wolfpack proved talent was there with wins over Duke, North Carolina and Louisville. But losses to Wake Forest, Boston College and Wofford explain their inconsistency.

Pitino is one-game shy of another trip to the Final Four. A place that seemed unlikely a month ago.

Freshmen Tyus Jones, Melo Trimble among finalists for Bob Cousy Award

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Friday morning the finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, annually given to the nation’s best point guard by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, were announced. Among the players on the list are two of the nation’s best freshmen, Duke’s Tyus Jones and Maryland’s Melo Trimble.

They’re the only two first-year players on the list, which includes six seniors, five juniors and four sophomores.

From a conference standpoint the Pac-12 leads the way with four finalists, with Arizona’s T.J. McConnell, Cal’s Tyrone Wallace, Utah’s Delon Wright and Washington’s Nigel Williams-Goss being the players on the list. In total nine conferences are represented. Also making the cut is BYU junior Kyle Collinsworth, who has tallied an NCAA-record five triple-doubles this season.

Below is the list of finalists for the award, which was won by UConn’s Shabazz Napier last season.

2015 Bob Cousy Award Finalists

T.J. McConnell, Arizona (senior)
Kyle Collinsworth, BYU (junior)
Tyrone Wallace, California (junior)
Ryan Boatright, UConn (senior)
Tyus Jones, Duke (freshman)
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga (senior)
Keifer Sykes, Green Bay (senior)
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana (junior)
Monte Morris, Iowa State (sophomore)
Terry Rozier, Louisville (sophomore)
Melo Trimble, Maryland (freshman)
Marcus Paige, North Carolina (junior)
Kris Dunn, Providence (junior)
Delon Wright, Utah (senior)
Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington (sophomore)
Juwan Staten, West Virginia (senior)
Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State (junior)

No. 12 Louisville struggled on both ends in Wednesday’s loss at Syracuse

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After winning seven of their first nine ACC games, No. 12 Louisville has hit a rough patch in its season. One day after it was announced that starting guard Chris Jones was suspended indefinitely by head coach Rick Pitino, the Cardinals lost 69-59 at Syracuse Wednesday night and there were problems on both ends of the floor.

As a team Louisville shot 42.6% from the field and 6-for-20 from beyond the arc, with Terry Rozier needing 18 shots to score a team-high 17 points. In total three Cardinals scored in double figures, with Montrezl Harrell adding 15 and freshman Quentin Snider 13. But that wasn’t enough, as Wayne Blackshear went scoreless and the bench was able to produce just six points with four coming from Anas Mahmoud.

With that offensive production more was needed on the defensive end of the floor, and the effort just wasn’t there. Without Jones, the guard who sets the tone for them defensively, the Cardinals had to dial things down pressure-wise and that led to Syracuse getting too much room to operate. Remove Trevor Cooney, who shot 1-for-10, and the other Syracuse players combined to shoot 21-for-37 (56.8%) from the field overall.

Also of note is the fact that Syracuse committed just seven turnovers, a number that’s far too low for a Pitino-coached team regardless of who’s out of the lineup. And according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, the lack of activity on the defensive end was a topic of conversation following the game.

They aren’t talking enough on defense. They aren’t working together enough on defense. Maybe it’s time for a team meeting.

“I’m going to talk to (Montrezl Harrell). I’m going to call a team meeting for us, just for the players,” Rozier said. “We have to figure out something we have to do to come together on defense … There’s too much individual (stuff) from the defensive standpoint. We’re not talking enough. We’re not going to win games if our defense is not together.”

How long Jones will be away from the team remains to be seen, but regardless of his status the Cardinals have some important issues to address. The problem? When it comes to both getting consistent production from Blackshear and creating more turnovers defensively, these are issues that Pitino’s had to deal with all season long. And solutions have yet to be found.

The good news for Louisville is that three of their final five games are at home, with the road games being at Georgia Tech and Florida State. But this doesn’t look like a confident basketball team right now, and that’s a concern as the season edges closer to March.

Foul line, offensive rebounding aid No. 13 Louisville’s comeback effort

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No. 13 Louisville put forth one of its poorer efforts of ACC play in the first half of their game against No. 10 North Carolina, making just seven of their twenty-seven field goal attempts with Montrezl Harrell (eight points, 3-for-7 FG) being the only player with more than one made field goal. Guards Chris Jones, Terry Rozier and Wayne Blackshear combined to shoot 2-for-12, and with that poor shooting carrying over into the start of the second half a comeback didn’t appear likely.

However slowly but surely Rick Pitino’s team worked their way back into the game, erasing an 18-point deficit to pull even and ultimately force overtime. From there it was all Louisville, as they outscored the Tar Heels 18-8 in the extra session and won by the final score of 78-68. Rozier finished with 22 points and ten rebounds despite shooting 6-for-20 from the field, and Harrell added 22 and 15 with 14 of his points coming after halftime.

The Cardinals shot 33.8% from the field and 7-for-21 from three on the day, but they made up for it by getting to the foul line far more often than the Tar Heels. Louisville shot 27-for-44 from the foul line, and while the resulting percentage wouldn’t be considered “elite” they did outscore North Carolina (11-for-20) by 16 points there. Add in the fact that Louisville grabbed more than half of its 25 available misses in the second half (13 offensive rebounds in the second half), and the Cardinals were able to find a way back into the game despite shooting a low percentage from the field.

Louisville scored 26 second-chance points, 15 more than North Carolina, and the fact that the Tar Heels couldn’t keep the Cardinals off the offensive glass was the biggest difference when comparing their two meetings this season. In North Carolina’s 72-71 win three weeks ago Louisville grabbed just nine offensive rebounds, which worked out to an offensive rebounding percentage of 28.1%. Louisville’s offensive rebounding percentage in the rematch: 40.7%.

Losing Marcus Paige (15 points) for part of the second half due to a sprained ankle certainly didn’t help North Carolina, as his injury came at a time when Louisville was making its charge. But not taking care of business on the defensive glass hurt the Tar Heels more, as they gave a poor shooting team more chances to score points.

Add in the way in which Louisville’s pressure defense can gradually wear down opponents, and North Carolina was bound to pay the price (to be fair, this is easier to say in hindsight).

With the win Louisville (6-2) is one of three teams with two losses in ACC play, with No. 8 Notre Dame (8-2) and North Carolina (7-2) being the others. And depending upon what happens with No. 2 Virginia, which has games against No. 4 Duke and the Tar Heels over the next 48 hours, that group could move even closer to the top of the conference standings.

Louisville may not have high-level shooters but they are capable of finding their points in other areas provided they remain aggressive offensively. Saturday afternoon that resulted in second-chance opportunities and trips to the foul line, and advantages in those areas propelled Louisville to a comeback win that seemed unfathomable early in the second half.

Rick Pitino on Terry Rozier’s impending NBA Draft decision: ‘He’s not coming back’

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Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has seen his fair share of NBA players over the years as both a college head coach of future pros and the former head coach of the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.

So it’s rather interesting that Pitino would speak glowingly of the NBA stock of one of his current players in the middle of the season as he did on Friday. According to a story from Mike Rutherford of SB Nation, Pitino believes that sophomore guard Terry Rozier is as good as gone for the NBA after the 2014-15 season.

“Terry just has all the things the pros like. I can’t tell you how many times people tell me, ‘if we can just get Terry to come back.’ He’s not coming back. You need to start looking at the future recruits. He’s not coming back. And they keep saying, “do you think there’s a chance?” And I just keep saying I told you last week, he’s not coming back,” Pitino said to reporters on Friday.

Rozier is averaging an ACC-best 20.8 points per game over his last 13 games dating back to Dec. 9. The 6-foot-1 sophomore has been even better on the road, as he’s averaging 24.8 points per game away from home.

With his athleticism and ability to get in the paint and make plays, Rozier is becoming a player that more-and-more NBA people are talking about in regards to the 2015 NBA Draft.

For his part, Rozier said he’s not paying attention to anything other than his current sophomore season at Louisville.

From Rutherford’s story:

“We haven’t talked about that. Like I’ve been saying the whole year, it’s something that me and him talked about, but we said that I was going to focus on being the best college basketball player I can be as of right now. I’d be selfish to be thinking about the pros right now,” Rozier said. “I mean I’m not going to lie and say I’m not thinking about it, it’s something that’s on my mind, but for me to be thinking about the draft and me leaving without taking care of business here first would be selfish of me. So that’s what I’m thinking about. We have a goal to win a national championship, so that’s what I’m thinking about.”

I find it interesting that Pitino would essentially dismiss that Rozier could come back to Louisville next season. But it also makes Pitino and Louisville look good in recruiting circles for blue-chip players if the head coach is willing to openly speak about the NBA while also praising his players.

Top-100 prospects want to play in the NBA someday and if Pitino shows a willingness to help them get there as quickly as possible, then he’s just doing what he can to compete for top recruits in the current “one-and-done” era.

As for Rozier, it’s important to note that although he’s only a sophomore, he also did a postgrad year of prep school at Hargrave Military Academy, so his age lines up more with current college juniors. As of this writing, Draft Express currently has Rozier as the No. 34 overall pick in the draft.