Bubble Banter: Pitt, N.C. State get huge wins while Cincinnati, Georgia, GW take bad losses

Leave a comment
source: Getty Images
Getty Images

(This post will be updated throughout the day.)

All it took was one absurd offensive performance for Pitt to go from an NCAA tournament pipe dream to one of the most interesting bubble teams heading down the stretch.

The Panthers shot 66.1 percent from the floor and 8-for-15 from three as they smacked around No. 12 North Carolina at home on Saturday, a win that gives Jamie Dixon’s club the kind of marquee victory to anchor a tournament profile.

READ MORE: Friday’s updated tournament bracket

The Tar Heels entered the day as a top ten team in the RPI, and while that will likely drop a bit after this loss, it still means that the Panthers now have a pair of top 50 wins. They’re 17-9 overall and 6-6 in the ACC, and on the surface, that’s plenty to put them into the conversation.

Here’s the problem — that’s pretty much all there is on their resume. Pitt has just one other top 100 RPI win (3-7 overall, although Georgia Tech and Kansas State are Nos. 101 and 102, respectively), which will make it difficult for the committee to overlook a pair of sub-150 losses to Hawaii and Virginia Tech.

The Panthers play four of their last six regular season games on the road, but they only play one of the ACC’s top five teams, a trip to Virginia on Monday night. Beating UNC was as close to a must-win as you can get at this point in the year, and while it only moves them closer to the bubble’s cut line, it gives the Panthers a puncher’s chance at getting into the dance.

Here’s the rest of today’s bubble action:

WINNERS

  • N.C. State: The Wolfpack were one of the next five out in our latest bracket, which was posted on Friday, and that was before they went into the Yum! Center and knocked off the Cardinals on Saturday. This was a win that N.C. State absolutely had to get after they struggled in a four-point loss to Virginia at home. The Wolfpack don’t have the prettiest resume — they’re 15-11 overall and below .500 in the ACC — but they have a top five strength of schedule and wins over Duke and Louisville, the latter of which came on the road. Now 7-10 against the top 100, the only “bad” loss for N.C. State came at Wake Forest, which looks worse on paper than it is in real life. As of today, N.C. State is probably a tournament team, but barely.
  • Michigan State: The Spartans were on the right side of the bubble entering Saturday, but they were not as safe as you might expect a Tom Izzo team to be. Losing at home to Illinois certainly didn’t help matters, but the Spartans bounced back this weekend by knocking off No. 23 Ohio State. It moves Sparty to 8-4 in the Big Ten and gives them a third top 50 win and a 6-7 record against the top 100.
  • St. John’s: The Johnnies landed a massive win on Saturday, going into Cincinnati and knocking off Xavier. As of Friday morning, St. John’s was barely on the right side of the cut-line, according to our latest bracket, and adding a road win against an RPI top 50 opponent surely will help. The rest of their schedule is tough: at Georgetown, Seton Hall, Xavier, Georgetown, at Marquette and at Villanova. If they go 3-3 in that stretch, they should feel good about getting a bid.
  • Davidson: The Wildcats added another top 100 win to their resume as they went into Philly and knocked off a La Salle team that just won at VCU. Bob McKillop’s club still has some work to do, but they also get a chance to play George Washington twice, at Rhode Island and VCU at home. They’ll have chances.
  • UCLA: The Bruins won one of the first true bubble showdowns of the season on Saturday when they knocked off Oregon in Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins had a rough start to the season, but they’ve turned things around in Pac-12 play. They’re now 7-9 against the top 100 with no embarrassing losses, a win over Utah and a sweep of Stanford. They’ve got work to do still, but if the season ended today, the Bruins would have a good argument for earning one of the final few at-large bids.
  • Dayton: The Flyers took care of business against St. Bonaventure, winning big at home. Despite playing with a shortened bench, Dayton has some breathing room when it comes to the bubble.
  • LSU: The Tigers bounced back from their near-upset of No. 1 Kentucky by going into Knoxville and pounding the Vols, a win that is probably better than it will look on their resume. LSU is still on the right side of the bubble, but they have a tough finishing kick to their season. Five of their last six games are against top 100 opponents. Currently, LSU is 7-4 against the top 100 with four top 35 wins, but they also have three sub-150 league losses.
  • Texas A&M: The Aggies avoided what would have been a second-straight loss at home when Florida was unable to get a shot off at the end of regulation. The Aggies are in a spot where every loss they take gets magnified due to a lack of quality wins on their resume. Billy Kennedy’s club has not beaten a top 50 team this season. They only have three top 100 wins, which includes a win at LSU (currently No. 52 in the RPI). But they also don’t have any bad losses. Their only loss outside the top 65 is Kansas State, who is currently just on the wrong side of the top 100. The other bubble teams cannot make that claim, which is why the Aggies are in the conversation with a lack of quality victories.
  • Temple: The Owls beat East Carolina at home on Saturday, which is notable in that the Owls didn’t pick up a loss against East Carolina. Temple was on the right side of the cut-line entering the day, and this certainly won’t hurt that position.
  • Rhode Island: The Rams beat Saint Louis at home, which means they didn’t lost to Saint Louis at home. Rhody still has plenty of work to do.
  • UMass: The Minutemen avoided what likely would have been an at-large bid crushing loss to Duquesne. Their next two games — at Rhode Island and at VCU — will likely determine their at-large fate.

LOSERS

  • George Washington: The Colonials’ at-large hopes are done. If losing to Duquesne, a teams with a sub-200 RPI, wasn’t bad enough, GW followed that up by whiffing on their final opportunity to land marquee win in league play by getting smacked at home by VCU.
  • Xavier: The Musketeers are a tough team to figure out, but they likely were a tournament team entering the weekend and that probably doesn’t change with a home loss against St. John’s. That said, Xavier cost themselves a chance at picking up a top 50 win at home.
  • Boise State: The Broncos had their eight-game winning streak snapped at Fresno State, dropping them a game off the pace in the Mountain West. More importantly, the loss puts a devastating mark on their NCAA tournament profile. The Bulldogs are No. 232 in the RPI, a blight that simply isn’t compensated for by Boise State’s weak non-conference resume and pair of other sub-125 losses. The Broncos have two top 50 wins and four top 100 wins, meaning they probably need to win at UNLV and at San Diego State to really have a shot at an at-large.
  • Cincinnati: The Bearcats lost on a wild buzzer-beater to Tulane at home, which in itself isn’t a killer loss but it does take away quite a bit of their wiggle room. Cincinnati has four top 35 wins, but they now have two sub-150 losses and three sub-100 losses. Things can get precarious for the Bearcats if they drop another game at Houston, at home against UCF or at Tulane.
  • Georgia: The Bulldogs lost to Auburn (RPI No. 154) at home by one, a loss that, at this point, will probably hurt Georgia’s seeding more than it will hurt their tournament chances. In other words, the Bulldogs are probably still on the right side of the bubble. That said, there are now three sub-100 losses on their resume, including Auburn, which puts Georgia in a tough spot. Their margin for error is much smaller than it was entering the weekend.
  • Colorado State: The Rams lost at San Diego State, which certainly isn’t something that is going to hurt their profile. But it also means that the Rams won’t be able to add anything meaningful to their resume for the rest of the regular season. They don’t play any top 150 teams and only one team in the top 230.
  • Ole Miss: Ole Miss had their six game losing streak snapped at home against Arkansas on Saturday as Jarvis Summers missed a potential game-winning jumper at the buzzer. The missed opportunity to add to their profile will hurt more than the loss itself, meaning the Rebels should still be in pretty good shape. There are a couple of weird losses in their profile — Charleston Southern and TCU — but they have three top 50 wins and six top 100 wins, half of which came on the road.
  • Oregon: Oregon lost at UCLA on Saturday. The Ducks are one of a handful of teams right there on the cut-line, and losing a road game to a team with a top 50 RPI isn’t going to do much to hurt their resume. Missing out on the opportunity to improve their resume is what will hurt the most.
  • Seton Hall: The Pirates are a mess and in the midst of a collapse as the locker room fractures. On Saturday, they lost at Providence. I’m not sure that’s a coincidence.

VIDEOS: Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett making highlights in Duke debut

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Duke is making its foreign exhibition debut on Wednesday night, as they battle respected Canadian program Ryerson in front of a packed crowd.

It’s also the debut of the highly-touted freshman class that the Blue Devils are bringing in — including forward Zion Williamson and wing (and Canada native) R.J. Barrett.

Barrett and Williamson haven’t disappointed in their Duke debuts as each of the top-five prospects have dominated during stretches of the game. Both freshmen made some stunning highlight-reel plays as well.

Williamson had a monster putback dunk and a goaltend near the top of the square in the first half. Barrett already made an opposing defender look silly as a Ryerson defender made the mistake of jumping with him on a breakaway dunk.

Re-ranking the 2013 recruiting class

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
1 Comment

July’s live recruiting period, the last of its kind, just finished up, meaning that the Class of 2019 have fully had a chance to prove themselves to the recruiters and the recruitniks around the country.

Scholarships were earned and rankings were justified over the course of those three weekends, but scholarship offers and rankings don’t always tell us who the best players in a given class will end up being.

Ask Steph Curry.

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will be re-ranking eight recruiting classes, from 2007-2014, based on what they have done throughout their post-high school career. 

Here are the 25 best players from the Class of 2013, with their final Rivals Top 150 ranking in parentheses:

(Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)

1.  Joel Embiid (25)

The meteoric rise of “The Process” has been fascinating to witness. Embiid didn’t become a five-star caliber prospect until his senior season of high school. He parlayed that into one good season at Kansas before a stress fracture in his foot prevented him from suiting up in March. After missing his first two seasons of NBA ball with the Philadelphia 76ers due to injury, Embiid became one of the game’s best players — and biggest personalities — over the last several years.

Embracing the role of franchise savior in Philly, Embiid became a second-team All-NBA player in his first full(ish) season in 2017-18. Injury concerns prevent Embiid from playing on back-to-back nights during the regular season, but the All-Star is a major force when he’s healthy. Embiid signed a max extension to stay in Philadelphia after his rookie deal ended.

2. Andrew Wiggins (1)

One of the most hyped high school players of the past decade, Wiggins has been debated as much as any player on this list. Becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft after a good season at Kansas, Wiggins has been remarkably durable during his four-year NBA career with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Missing only one game during that four-year span, Wiggins has averaged 36.2 minutes per game for his career as he’s grown into a functional scoring wing. During his third season, Wiggins averaged 23.6 points per game as his inconsistent perimeter jumper improved enough for him to make a leap. Polarizing among some in the NBA community, Wiggins has been criticized at times for not making enough of an impact outside of scoring.

3. Aaron Gordon (3)

A mega-athlete at forward, Gordon has become a successful NBA starter during his four seasons with the Orlando Magic. The former Pac-12 Freshman of the Year showed flashes of potential greatness during his one season at Arizona. Since the Magic surprisingly (at the time) selected Gordon with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, he made some memorable appearances in the dunk contest while growing into one of the league’s better young talents. During the 2017-18 season, Gordon averaged 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game for the Magic as he looks like their centerpiece to build around the next few years.

(Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

4. Zach LaVine (44)

A classic late-bloomer, LaVine has used his supreme athleticism to make a name for himself in the NBA the past few seasons. Coming off of the bench during his only season at UCLA, LaVine’s dominant performance at the NBA Draft Combine vaulted him into a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. With the Minnesota Timberwolves, LaVine developed into a double-figure scorer while also becoming the fourth player in history to win back-to-back dunk contests. A torn ACL has limited LaVine’s play the past two seasons, as he was the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butler trade that brought LaVine to the Chicago Bulls before the 2017-18 season. Despite a sluggish return from the ACL injury last season, the Bulls matched a lucrative offer sheet from the Sacramento Kings to retain LaVine this offseason.

5. Julius Randle (2)

After a decorated high school and college career that included a Final Four run with Kentucky, Randle has carved out a nice niche in the NBA. Playing the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Randle started to figure things out during the past two years as he was especially effective coming off of the bench in small-ball situations. Putting up 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game on 55 percent shooting this past season, Randle left the Lakers as a free agent this offseason as he signed to play with the New Orleans Pelicans.

6. Jabari Parker (4)

Another decorated high school player and one-and-done, Parker made an impact during his one season at Duke — particularly on the offensive end. Selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Parker showcased natural scoring ability during his four seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks — peaking at 20.1 points per game during the 2016-17 season. Parker’s big issue has been health. He’s suffered two torn ACLs during his four years in the The League. Showing flashes of former brilliance during his return late last season — including a 35-point game at Denver — Parker signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Bulls this offseason. He’ll return to his hometown in the hopes of remaining healthy and revitalizing his career.

7. Bobby Portis (15)

The first player on this list to not be a one-and-done, Portis had a memorable sophomore season at Arkansas as he became SEC Player of the Year. Picked at No. 22 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, Portis has exceeded expectations by becoming one of the game’s better bench scorers. A shot-happy big man who can space the floor out to the three-point line, Portis put up 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in only 22.5 minutes per game for the Bulls last season. For as good as Portis has been on the floor, he’s perhaps best known for a violent fight with Bulls teammate Nikola Mirotic before the 2017-18 season. The incident left Mirotic with a concussion and multiple facial fractures as Portis was suspended eight games.

8. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (21)

The former Arizona product has started to come into his own as an NBA player. Following two good seasons with the Wildcats, where he was one of the best two-way forwards in the country, Hollis-Jefferson has carved out a starting role with the Brooklyn Nets. In his third season as a pro, Hollis-Jefferson developed into a double-figure scorer who could do a little bit of everything. Although Hollis-Jefferson still struggles to make perimeter jumpers, he averaged 13.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game during the 2017-18 season, as he started in 59 games for the rebuilding Nets.

9. Josh Hart (84)

After a decorated four-year college career at Villanova, not surprisingly, Hart has found his way into an NBA rotation. With the Wildcats, Hart went from low-end four-star prospect, to National Player of the Year candidate as he was a first-team All-American during his senior season. Hart also won a national title at Villanova and helped turn the Wildcats into one of the most consistent programs in the nation. At the NBA level, Hart is coming off of a promising rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers as he started 23 games and put up 7.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

10. Andrew Harrison (5)

The former Kentucky star made two Final Four appearances during his college career. As a pro, Harrison has steadily gained traction the past few seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies. After beginning his career in the G League, Harrison has been a rotation player with the Grizzlies the past two seasons. Starting 46 games during the 2017-18 season, Harrison averaged 9.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game as his campaign was cut short due to injury.

11. Pascal Siakam (UR)

A late-bloomer to come from the mid-major ranks, Siakam redshirted during his freshman season at New Mexico State due to injury. From there, Siakam has hit the ground running. He was named WAC Freshman of the Year his first season and WAC Player of the Year as a sophomore. Since getting drafted by the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, Siakam has developed into a well-rounded backup big man. Last season, Siakam played 81 games and averaged 7.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.

12. Jordan Bell (68)

Bell has worked hard to make the NBA as he was a key role player for the Golden State Warriors during their 2017-18 championship run. Initially redshirted during his freshman season at Oregon, Bell eventually become a second-team All-Pac 12 player and the league’s defensive Player of the Year in 2017 as he helped the Ducks to the Final Four. As a rookie, Bell earned a lot of buzz in the NBA community as a do-it-all backup forward as he received a healthy amount of minutes during the NBA Playoffs.

13. Noah Vonleh (8)

Averaging nearly a double-double as a freshman at Indiana, Vonleh became the No. 9 overall pick of the Charlotte Hornets in the 2014 NBA Draft. Although Vonleh has continued to clean the glass at a solid rate as a role player, he hasn’t found the right fit during his four-year NBA career. Traded twice during his first four seasons, Vonleh has spent time in Charlotte, Portland and Chicago. The New York Knicks recently signed Vonleh for the 2018-19 season.

14. Jarell Martin (13)

Following two successful seasons at LSU, which included first-team All-SEC honors as a sophomore, Martin has found his way as an energy big man coming off of the bench. Spending the last three seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, Martin started 36 games last season as he averaged 7.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. During the offseason, Martin was traded to the Orlando Magic in a deal involving Dakari Johnson.

15. Wayne Selden (12)

The former McDonald’s All-American was a polarizing player at times during his three-year career at Kansas as he earned second-team All-Big 12 honors with the Jayhawks in 2016. Going undrafted in 2016, Selden defied expectations by going from the G League to earning NBA Playoff minutes as a rookie with the Memphis Grizzlies. Selden’s second season with the Grizzlies was cut short to 35 games during the 2017-18 season as he battled a right quad injury. Selden averaged 9.3 points per game during his second season.

(Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

16. Cameron Payne (UR)

Payne went from unranked mid-major player into an NBA lottery pick after only two seasons of college at Murray State. The former Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year, Payne drew some Damian Lillard comparisons coming out of college since both players had similar college trajectories. Payne has struggled with inconsistent play and injury during his three NBA seasons. Last season with the Chicago Bulls, Payne looked like a potential rotation guard as he averaged 8.8 points and 4.5 assists per game in 25 games and 14 starts.

17. James Young (11)

Helping Kentucky to the Final Four as a freshman, Young parlayed second-team All-SEC honors into the No. 17 pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. Spending his first three seasons with the Boston Celtics, Young was let go, as he eventually signed a two-way contract with the Philadelphia 76ers last season. Still only 22 years old, Young has appeared in 95 career NBA games.

18. Semi Ojeyele (31)

Starting his college career at Duke, Ojeyele eventually transferred and found a better fit at SMU. After winning AAC Player of the Year honors in 2017, Ojeyele kept his name in the 2017 NBA Draft, as the Boston Celtics scooped him up in the second round. Playing in 73 games and 17 playoff games as a rookie last season, Ojeyele looks like a potential steal for the Celtics — although he’s stuck in a deep rotation of wings now that Gordon Hayward is returning from injury.

19. Frank Mason (76)

Exceeding all expectations during a memorable four-year career at Kansas, Mason evolved into a first-team All-American and one of the best two-way point guards in the country. Following his time with the Jayhawks, Mason was picked in the second round by the Sacramento Kings in the 2017 NBA Draft as he played in 52 games last season. Mason averaged 7.9 points and 2.8 assists per game.

20. Damian Jones (77)

The former two-time All-SEC first-team selection at Vanderbilt was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in 2016 by the Golden State Warriors. Although Jones has spent most of his pro career playing in the G League, thanks to the Warriors’ insane depth, he has played 25 games in the NBA the past two seasons. Most importantly, Jones has two rings in his first two seasons. It’ll be interesting to see how Jones develops over time since he’s been stuck on one of the deepest teams in basketball.

21. Sindarius Thornwell (43)

The former South Carolina star helped lead the Gamecocks to a Final Four appearance in 2017 as he was a first-team All-SEC selection that season. Picked in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft, Thornwell’s rights were traded to the Los Angeles Clippers before the season. Thornwell exceeded expectations by appearing in 73 games, and starting 17, for the Clipper as a rookie as he averaged a little over 15 minutes per game.

22. Tyler Ennis (22)

Jumping to the NBA after one season at Syracuse, Ennis was the No. 18 overall selection of the Phoenix Suns in the 2014 NBA Draft. Spending the past four seasons in the NBA, Ennis appeared in 186 total games and made 21 starts as he spent time with the Suns, Bucks, Rockets and Lakers. Although Ennis played in 54 games for the Lakers during 2017-18, averaging 12.6 minutes per game, he opted to sign a contract to play in Turkey for next season.

23. DeAndre Bembry (UR)

A former Atlantic 10 Player of the Year at Temple, Bembry was a first-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks in 2016. The G League is where Bembry spent most of his first pro season, and last season, Bembry was limited by injury. During two pro seasons, Bembry has only played in 64 NBA games. But he should have a chance to earn much more playing time on an Atlanta team that is currently in the midst of a rebuild.

24. Christian Wood (40)

The former UNLV product spent two productive seasons in Sin City before turning pro, as he went undrafted in 2015 after receiving first-round buzz during the season. Bouncing between the G League and the last spot of NBA rosters, Wood played in 30 NBA games with the 76ers and Hornets between 2015 and 2017. But, after spending all of last season in the G League, Wood might have finally figured things out. A monster Summer League led to the Milwaukee Bucks signing Wood to a contract for the 2018-19 season as he’s expected to make the roster.

25. Wes Iwundu (UR)

One of six three-star prospects to enter Kansas State in the same recruiting class, Iwundu became one of the Big 12’s best players during his final two years on campus — earning third-team All-Big 12 honors. Selected in the second round of the 2017 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, Iwundu played in 62 games and started 12 last season. Remarkably, Iwundu was considered by some to be the fifth-best prospect on his own Houston Defenders AAU team coming out of high school as he played with the Harrison twins, Johnathan Motley (Baylor) and Derrick Griffin (Texas Southern).

(Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

FIVE NOTABLES THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE TOP 25

Chris Walker (6)

The 6-foot-10 Walker never lived up to his immense hype as NCAA eligibility issues affected his freshman season at Florida. Even as a sophomore, Walker never found his footing with the Gators, as he left the program after two pedestrian seasons in the SEC. Going undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, Walker spent some time in the G League before eventually signing a deal to play in a Puerto Rican professional league in 2018. At one point in time, Joel Embiid, the No. 1 player in this class re-rank, was coming off of the bench in favor of Walker when the duo played together on the Florida Rams on the grassroots circuit.

Aaron Harrison (7)

While twin brother Andrew has been able to stick in the NBA the past few seasons, Aaron has had to grind in the G League. Playing in 35 career NBA games to this point, Harrison finished last season with the Dallas Mavericks after they opted to extend his 10-day contract for the rest of the season. The former McDonald’s All-American and Kentucky star is still looking for a spot for next season.

Kasey Hill (10)

Although Hill never made the NBA’s radar, he ended up as a solid four-year presence at Florida. Making a Final Four appearance as a freshman backup, Hill eventually became an All-SEC defender during his senior season as he was one of the league’s better guards. After his college career finished out at Florida, Hill went on to sign pro deals in Hungary and Greece. Hill was also grassroots teammates with Joel Embiid and Chris Walker on the Florida Rams.

Isaac Hamilton (14)

The middle brother of the three Hamiltons (Jordan Hamilton is oldest, Daniel Hamilton is youngest), Isaac had a very successful three-year run at UCLA as one of the Pac-12’s better scoring guards. Earning All-Pac-12 second-team honors in 2016, Hamilton went undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft. Hamilton played with the Indiana Pacers during Summer League last year as he spent 2017-18 in the G League.

Nigel Hayes (UR)

From unranked to one of college basketball’s best players, Hayes made two Final Fours and three all-Big Ten teams during his four seasons in Madison. Helping the Badgers to at least the Sweet 16 in all four of his seasons, Hayes is one of college basketball’s most accomplished players of the past decade. Last season, Hayes spent most of his year in the G League, but he did appear in nine NBA games — playing for the Lakers, Raptors and Kings. Hayes is expected to play for Galatasaray in the Turkish league this upcoming season.

Judge dismisses Rick Pitino’s lawsuit against Adidas

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 19: Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals looks on in the first half against the Michigan Wolverines during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
1 Comment

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed former Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s lawsuit against Adidas, agreeing with the sportswear maker that his claim requires arbitration and should be heard out of court.

Pitino sued Adidas last October in U.S. District Court for breach of contract, alleging that the Oregon-based company deliberately ruined his reputation. Adidas had terminated its personal services contract with Pitino hours after Louisville’s Athletic Association fired him for cause following the school’s acknowledgement of its involvement in a federal bribery investigation of college basketball. Pitino was not named in the federal complaint.

His lawsuit said Adidas “outrageously conspired” to funnel money to the family of a Louisville recruit without his knowledge and made it appear he was aware of its practices.

Judge David J. Hale wrote Tuesday that while the court agreed with Adidas’ argument that Pitino had already begun his claim, it should be dismissed for improper venue and brought to arbitration in Oregon if it can’t be mediated.

Wake AD sits ‘tight’ as coach goes through legal process

A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Leave a comment

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman says the school is “sitting tight” while the legal process continues for an assistant basketball coach who police say punched a New York City tourist who later died.

Wellman spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday, four days after the school placed assistant coach Jamill Jones on leave, and says there have been no further updates.

Police say Jones attacked digital marketing guru Sandor Szabo early on Aug. 5, causing him to fall and smash his head on a Queens sidewalk.

Jones has pleaded not guilty a charge of misdemeanor assault and has an Oct. 2 court date. Wellman said “what transpires between now and then, we have no idea. We’re not in control of that, so we’re just sitting tight at this point.”

Wellman declined to discuss the situation further.

In the less serious realm on the basketball court, the AD has some other issues to sort out that aren’t nearly as grave.

The program took a step back in Danny Manning’s fourth season, finishing 11-20 a year after making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010 and then losing two key players early. But the roster turnover continued this year, with the top three scorers from last year’s team all leaving early — Bryant Crawford and Doral Moore turned pro, while Keyshawn Woods transferred to Ohio State.

Wellman isn’t concerned about the roster churn, called the season “a disappointment on the surface” but expressed confidence in Manning and his assistants, pointing to an incoming recruiting class ranked in the top 25 nationally by Scout.com.

“This staff can recruit. This staff can coach,” Wellman said. “This staff can do all of the things that need to be done to build a championship-caliber program.”

But it’s obvious the progress in basketball has lagged behind the school’s other high-profile sport, with Dave Clawson leading the football team to consecutive bowl victories after going 3-9 in each of his first two seasons.

“He’s building a program with depth,” Wellman said of Clawson. “He has all of the right approaches for a Wake Forest, the type of people he’s recruiting, recognizing that we are something of a developmental program where guys come in and are going to develop, and he has the right coaches to develop those players. And I think you’re seeing the results on the field.”

Overall, the recently completed academic year was a success at Wake Forest, which finished 48th in the standings for the Director’s Cup, which is awarded to the top overall athletic department. The unquestioned highlight of the year was the team national championship the Demon Deacons claimed in men’s tennis as well as the individual crown won by Petros Chrysochos, who beat teammate Borna Gojo in the final.

Wellman is hoping for even more improvement in all of the school’s sports in 2018-19, and is eager to open some new facilities in the coming year. Set to open in January are a pair of buildings that together cost $50 million — an all-sports facility for strength, conditioning and coaches’ office space, as well as a basketball player development center to include a practice gym and strength and conditioning space for both basketball teams. That comes after the school opened its indoor practice facility for football a year ago.

“What we want is for facilities to be an asset,” Wellman said. “They were a liability in the recruitment game and they were a liability once our players got here, in training our players the way you want to be able to train them. With the facilities that are coming on line now, we will be in as good a position as anyone in the country.”

Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter @JoedyAP

Evansville lands former Kansas guard Sam Cunliffe

Ed Zurga/Getty Images
1 Comment

Tuesday afternoon guard Sam Cunliffe announced that he will be transferring from Kansas to Evansville, where he’ll play for first-year head coach Walter McCarty.

Cunliffe, a Top 100 recruit who began his collegiate career at Arizona State, appeared in 15 games last season for Kansas and averaged 1.9 points in just under five minutes per game. Playing time was tough to come by for Cunliffe once he became eligible to compete at Kansas, and that was likely to be the case again in 2018-19 given how loaded the Jayhawks are on the perimeter.

Three of Kansas’ four incoming freshmen are perimeter players, and Memphis transfers Dedric and K.J. Lawson can play on the wing as well. Add in senior LaGerald Vick, who originally had no plans of returning to school after entering his name into the 2018 NBA Draft, and guards Marcus Garrett and Charlie Moore (a transfer from Cal), and Bill Self will have a lot of options from which to choose this season.

Cunliffe joins an Evansville program that will have to account for the loss of its top three scorers from a season ago, including a guard in Ryan Taylor who averaged 21.3 points per game. Cunliffe won’t be able to help the Purple Aces in game action this season, but he’s a talented option McCarty can use as a feature option as he looks to build a program that can consistently contend in the Missouri Valley.