Five Takeaways as No. 6 Louisville knocks off No. 16 Indiana

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
0 Comments

Fresh off of an embarrassing home loss to Virginia, No. 6 Louisville went into Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday and knocked off No. 16 Indiana, 77-62.

Donovan Mitchell played his best game of the season. Deng Adel looked like a guy that is good enough to be considered for an all-ACC team. Indiana? They lost their second-straight game and their fourth this season in the state of Indiana.

Here are the five things we can takeaway from this game:

1. This is the Donovan Mitchell we expected to see this season: Donovan Mitchell was the guy everyone had pegged has a breakout player this season. The expectation that he would be a top 30ish player in the sport and an all-ACC guard is a major reason that the Cardinals were projected as a top ten team in the preseason. And through the first seven weeks of the season, Mitchell has been … a disappointment?

That’s probably going to far. Mitchell’s been fine. He wasn’t’ the one that put that burden of expectation on himself.

But however you want to phrase it, the bottom line is this: Mitchell entered Saturday averaging 11.5 points and 2.1 assists while shooting 35.7 percent from the floor and 28.8 percent from three. If the Cardinals are going to compete for an ACC title and a Final Four, he has to be better.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom

He has to be the guy he was Saturday. Mitchell finished with 25 points and three assists off the bench, shooting 8-for-15 from the floor and 4-for-8 from three. He hit important threes. He attacked the rim in the half court. He made plays in transition. He was, as he usually is, a pest defensively, but it was the points that he created that mattered. We all saw the game against Virginia and we all saw how much Louisville can struggle to score, so we all know what Mitchell means when he plays like this.

2. Anas Mahmoud is a difference maker: Deng Adel is going to get much of the credit for Louisville’s run late in the first half that opened up a 12-point lead at the break, as he should. He hit a pair of threes in that run and had an assist to Jaylen Johnson for a dunk. He finished with 17 points and hit a trio of threes, which matters for the same reason Mitchell’s offense matters, but he wasn’t the second-best player on the floor for Louisville.

Anas Mahmoud was.

He finished with 10 points, three blocks, two steals and two assists, but it was his presence as much as anything that had an impact. His length makes him a difference-maker defensively, both in his ability to change shots at the rim and to create steals and deflections in Louisville’s zone and press. Offensively, he’s better than people will give him credit for. He has a soft touch in the paint and can pass out of the post and out of a double-team.

Saturday was Mahmoud’s first start of the season. I would be surprised if it was his last.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 31: Anas Mahmoud #14 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball during the game against the Indiana Hoosiers in the Countdown Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 31, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Anas Mahmoud (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

3. The importance of Indiana’s early wins even more evident: The Hoosiers are going to head into the New Year having lost two straight and three straight games to teams that aren’t named Delaware State and Austin Peay. They’ve dropped a home game to Nebraska, who entered the game having lost six of their last eight, and fell at Fort Wayne earlier this season. They’re 10-4 on the season and, quite clearly, a team that is still trying to figure out what, exactly, they are.

There are a lot of teams in that spot right now. And like most of those teams, the Hoosiers are going to take a few more losses before the season is over.

But those other teams don’t have wins over Kansas and North Carolina in their back pocket. However this ends up playing out, those two wins give Indiana a much-higher seed floor than anyone else that will lose to Nebraska at home.

4. Indiana’s go to guy issues exposed: The knock on the Hoosiers all season has been that they lack a point guard and they lack a go-to guy that can create shots when their offense stalls, and that hasn’t been more evident than it was today against Louisville and the nation’s-best defense. The Hoosiers shot 32.2 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 14 times. Robert Johnson was 1-for-13. James Blackmon was just 3-for-8. Other than O.G. Anunoby, who was 6-for-10 and had three dunks, the Hoosiers as a team shots 26 percent. No one had more than two assists, and they assisted on just eight of their 19 field goals as a team.

The question Tom Crean has to answer is this: Who on his team makes others better, and how can he put them in a position to do just that?

5. Louisville suddenly looks like the favorite the ACC: On a day where North Carolina loses at Georgia Tech and Duke gets humiliated by Virginia Tech, the Cardinals beat Indiana in the state of Indiana, which, when combined with their win over Kentucky earlier this season, gives Louisville bragging rights in Kentuckiana and the look of a team that could end up winning the ACC title.

Granted, that’s likely going to require the Cardinals going into Charlottesville and beating a Virginia team that they haven’t been able to figure out in years. But if it really just is a matchup thing with UVA, if the Cavs find a way to drop games to lesser opponents that have the tools to breakdown their Pack-Line defense – like, oh, I don’t know, Florida State? – the Cards look like a team fully capable of taking advantage.

Now imagine what we would be saying if they hadn’t blown that 22-point lead to Louisville.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 31: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball during the game against the Indiana Hoosiers in the Countdown Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 31, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

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

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

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

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
2 Comments

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

uconn
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
0 Comments

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

Getty Images
0 Comments

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.