Iowa’s Fran McCaffery on Dan Dakich’s criticism of a player: ‘He’s a TV guy. If he was a coach, he’d be coaching’

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Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery has fired back at ESPN announcer Dan Dakich, who called his center, Adam Woodbury, “gutless” and “cowardly” during Tuesday night’s broadcast.

Twice during Tuesday’s blowout loss at No. 6 Wisconsin, Woodbury was caught on camera poking a Badger player in the eye while playing defense on the perimeter. He also picked up a foul for putting an elbow into the neck of a Wisconsin player as he rolled on a screen.

Video of the incident can be seen here, and it set Dakich off.

“If I was Bo Ryan, I would send that video in to the Big Ten office and ask that Woodbury get suspended,” Dakich said on ESPN’s broadcast, and he was just getting started. “There’s no rhyme or reason for that. That’s complete garbage. When you do that, you’re doing it on purpose to a completely defenseless player.”

“It’s gutless as well and he’s doing it on purpose. You can say he’s not and you can get mad at me all you want, but he’s doing it on purpose, it needs to stop and the Big Ten office needs to discipline the kid. Woodbury, for some reason, Woodbury thinks that that kind of thing is toughness. That’s as cowardly as you can be to hit a guy from behind or to poke a guy in the face and quite frankly Fran McCaffery and his staff have got to stop this.”

McCaffery defended his player on his weekly radio show, and his point does have some merit, regardless of how intentional the eye-poke looked.

Woodbury is a 7-foot-1 center playing defense on the perimeter, something that he’s not used to, and he’s doing it against guys that are lethal three-point shooters. “What they teach is they’re going to drop their head and they’re coming into your space,” McCaffery said. “I’m teaching we’re coming into your space.”

That’s not completely far-fetched, especially when you consider a tactic that quite a few defenders use on the perimeter is to simply put a hand in front of a three-point shooter’s face instead of contesting the shot at the top of that player’s jump. Could Woodbury have simply been trying to do that and he’s just too uncoordinated to do it effectively? I guess, although the fact that he rubbed Frank Kaminsky’s head makes it seem more like gamesmenship than it does a bit of goofy defending.

But we weren’t done yet.

In addition to staunchly and unequivocally defending his guy, McCaffery also made sure to get in a couple of shots at Dakich’s coaching resume.

“Danny Dakich is so far out of line,” McCaffery said. He’s just lost it on this one. He doesn’t know Adam Woodbury. And for him to say the reprehensible things he’s said about an amateur is inexcusable. It’s absolutely inexcusable that his network would allow him to say those things of things about a guy he doesn’t know.”

“First of all, we can debate what he thought he saw. He has every right to have an opinion. He happens to be wrong. One hundred percent wrong. Adam Woodbury did nothing purposefully to injure the guy he was guarding.”

“I don’t appreciate him saying anything about what I should do,” he added later. “He’s a TV guy. If he was a coach, he’d be coaching.”

“I should tell him to go buy some lottery tickets. He’d have a better chance to win the lottery than to ever in any way recommend what I should do with my player or my team.”

After the host of the radio show called Dakich — a former assistant at Indiana and, for a time, the interim head coach after Kelvin Sampson was fired — a “former coach in the Big Ten”, McCaffery added this zinger: “Former assistant coach in the Big Ten. Let’s clear that up.”

Dakich responded on twitter this evening:

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.