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Virginia heading to Final Four for first time since 1984

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Purdue’s got dudes, but Virginia has a Guy.

Kyle, to be exact.

Guy hit five second half threes, finishing with a team-high 25 points and 10 boards and ensuring that Virginia kept pace with God Mode Carsen Edwards as he lead the Virginia Cavaliers to an 80-75 overtime win against Purdue.

379 days removed from becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed and Virginia was off to the Final Four, the program’s first since 1984 and the first of Tony Bennett’s career.

And all it took was surviving one of the most impressive individual performances that you will ever see.

Edwards, as he was all tournament, absolutely caught fire on Saturday night. He finished with 42 points, matching his output against Villanova in the second round and equaling the most points scored by a player in an NCAA tournament game since 2004. He made 10-of-18 threes while single-handedly blowing apart one of the best defenses we’ve ever seen in college hoops. Purdue is known for running some of the best stuff in college basketball, and by the end of the game their entire offense was ‘give the rock to Carsen and get the hell out of his way.’

It should have delivered a win.

With a minute left in the game, Edwards banked-in his tenth three, giving Purdue a 69-67 lead that was pushed to three by a Ryan Cline free throw with 18 seconds left.

But on the ensuing possession, Jerome was fouled intentionally with 5.7 seconds left in the game, setting with a wild and thrilling finish deserving of the moment. Purdue held a 70-68 with Ty Jerome at the line shooting his second of two free throws. He missed and the ball was tipped out all the way into the backcourt. Bennett did not call a timeout, and his diminutive freshman point guard Kihei Clark fired a 60-foot dart to Mamadi Diakite, who hit a 10-foot jumper to force the extra frame.

In the extra frame, it was De’Andre Hunter that eventually scored the game-winning bucket. He had been dreadful all night, but with 30 seconds left on the clock, Bennett isolated him at the elbow and he went right through Grady Eifert and scored the go ahead bucket.

After Edwards missed a jumper at the other end of the floor, it was Guy — who else — that corralled the loose ball and hit the two free throws to push the lead to three. On the ensuing possession, Edwards tried to find Ryan Cline for a game-tying three, but he threw the ball out of bounds, all-but sealing the win for Virginia and sending the Wahoos to the Final four.


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Virginia never once shied away from The Loss.

It never made sense to, because no matter where they went or what they did, their story would be right there in front of them. A UMBC mention found its way onto just about every Virginia broadcast. A UMBC sign could be found in the student section at every road game. Duke tried to bring former UMBC point guard K.J. Maura in to sit with the Cameron Crazies when Virginia came to town.

Being the only No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament history to lose to a No. 16 seed was never going to get erased from the records books or the memory of those that watched it all unfold live.

History cannot be changed.

But the narrative can.

And prior to Saturday night’s epic, thrilling, everything-that-is-great-about-March win, the narrative of this Virginia program, its players and the coach that built it all was that this group was not cut out for winning in March.

It started with the players. They are — well, were — choke artists, not mentally tough enough to be able to handle the rigors of playing in a one-game knockout tournament. For all their regular season success, the only year in the previous five NCAA tournaments that Virginia lost to a team that was seeded the same or higher came in 2017, when No. 5 seed Virginia lost in the second round to No. 4 seed Florida. Once things started going bad, they were powerless to stop it. Ask Syracuse, who erased a 15 point deficit in the final eight minutes the last time Virginia played in an Elite Eight. Ask UMBC.

Virginia trailed Gardner-Webb by 14 points and won that game. They gave up an 18-5 run in the second half against Oregon, blowing an eight-point lead in the process, and won that game. They trailed Purdue by 10 in the first half and then blew another eight-point second half lead — surviving a banked-in three with a minute left — to win.

So much for that.

The other side of this was that Virginia couldn’t win playing the style that they play. They slow the game down too much. Defense wins games but offense wins championships. A system can only carry you so far if there aren’t pros running it.

So much for that, too.

“Not only did we silence his critics,” Guy said after the game, “we silenced our own.”

And it’s fitting that Guy played such a central role in this win, because he turned into something of the posterboy of the UMBC loss. His pictures were the ones that went viral, crouched down, head between his knees; crying as he buried his face into his jersey.

(Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

A year later, he is the one leading Virginia to the win that changes the narrative.

Because the story isn’t over yet.

The loss to UMBC can never be taken away.

But neither can this run to the Final Four. Virginia and these players will always be able to say that.

And with two more wins, they’ll be able to cut down one more set of nets.

Tony Bennett is no longer the best coach to never get to a Final Four, but he is one step closer to joining the pantheon of national title-winning coaches.

That’s a helluva was to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of getting hired at Virginia.

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey: Transferring players need ‘deterrent’

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The NCAA is granting too many waivers allowing players who transfer to compete immediately, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said Wednesday, calling the requirement that players sit out a year a useful “deterrent” to players switching schools.

Brey made his comments at a meeting of the Knight Commission, a nonprofit that pushes for reform in college sports. While the commission has not taken a position on transfer waivers, it often advocates for players being given more freedom to pursue their professional ambitions.

“As coaches we’re concerned about the number of waivers, to the point where the NCAA has given too much of a blueprint on how to get a waiver,” Brey said. “Kids feel they can go and, you know, bring up enough of a case to get eligible right away. So they’re more apt to want to go.”

In April 2018, the NCAA relaxed its waiver requirements, allowing a transferring player to suit up immediately if there are “documented mitigating circumstances that are outside the student-athlete’s control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student-athlete.”

During the 2018-19 academic year, 79 men’s basketball players requested waivers and 44 were granted, a 56% success rate, according to NCAA data. Men’s basketball accounted for 33% of all waiver requests, the NCAA said.

Commission co-chairman Arne Duncan, the former U.S. Secretary of Education, declined to comment on waivers but lauded the “transparency” of the NCAA’s transfer portal, in which players submit their names if they want to switch schools.

Brey said he believes players should be free to transfer and that it’s up to coaches to make their players want to stay, but he said sitting out a year can be beneficial and prevents players from transferring for immature or capricious reasons.

“It’s a bit of a deterrent for a kid. The year in residency saves kids from themselves sometimes,” Brey said. “I’ve seen some kids then come back, stick it out, and now they’re in the lineup and they come back five years later and go, ‘I was an idiot.’ Because every kid thinks about (transferring) when he’s not playing.”

ROADBLOCKS TO REFORM

Brey’s comments were one of a few examples from Wednesday’s meeting of the basketball establishment pushing back against reforms that would give players more autonomy or promote transparency about the way schools profit from college athletics.

The Knight Commission is pushing the NCAA to release to the public the financial details of contracts between athletic departments and shoe and apparel companies, a proposal that has not gained much traction. In the past, the commission has persuaded the NCAA to release graduation rates and other financial data, including compensation for coaches.

“The shoe companies, there has to be agreement across the board, that there has to be willingness and openness to share all those records. Candidly, I think more work needs to be done,” said Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president for Division I governance. “We don’t control all the third parties and their ability to cooperate with us. More conversation needs to continue to occur within the NCAA and between the NCAA and the third parties if we want to move the ball.”

Two NBA executives told the commission the league is in talks with the players’ union about lowering the NBA’s minimum age to 18, prompted largely by a recommendation by the Commission on College Basketball to rid the sport of the “one-and-done rule.”

But even that proposal is meeting some resistance in the NBA. David Krichavsky, the league’s senior vice president and head of youth basketball development, said some in the league would rather raise the age limit than lower it.

“Many teams and general managers would still be in favor of going to 20, given the additional scouting information you receive on players, seeing them compete at the NCAA level for two years after high school,” Krichavsky said, “but at the same time we recognize that the world has changed and will continue to change.”

COACHES BEHAVING BADLY

Brey, the president of the board of directors of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, said he’d like to see coaches reach a consensus about how to police their own behavior.

An ongoing federal investigation into illicit payments made to players during the recruiting process led Louisville to fire longtime coach Rick Pitino, but some other coaches implicated in the probe have held onto their jobs. Brey said schools ought to move more aggressively to fire coaches for cause when they violate NCAA rules.

“We all have clauses in our contracts about NCAA rules and behavior, all of us. If those are violated, doesn’t that start on the campuses?” Brey said. “And no question the NABC could make a stronger stand. We have not maybe been as vocal about some of the things that have gone on.”

Report: NCAA will give more notices of allegations soon

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Now that the FBI’s college basketball corruption cases are complete, the NCAA will likely move forward with more notices of allegations.

Speaking to ESPN’s Heather Dinich on Wednesday at the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, NCAA vice president of Division I Governance Kevin Lennon said that more investigations could come “in due time and I think  very quickly.”

The NCAA needed to wait for the FBI’s trials to finish up before launching its own investigations on schools mentioned over the past 18 months. We could see a high number of big-name programs get investigated during the NCAA’s process.

“You don’t get in the way of a federal investigation,” Lennon said Wednesday. “Activity was going on during that span that was within our purview, but now that the court cases are done, now we’re in a position where you’re likely to see notices of allegations going to institutions that have violated NCAA rules, etc. I think you can anticipate notices of allegations will be coming.”

Following the completion of the first FBI trial in October 2018, the NCAA already reportedly sent notice of allegations to Arizona, Kansas, NC State and Louisville. Other prominent programs, including but not limited to, Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma State and USC have also been mentioned during recent college basketball corruption trials.

While the NCAA will seek all documents that schools turned over to the federal government during legal procedures, the real difficulty in the NCAA’s investigations will be getting third-party participants to speak — or even cooperate in the first place. Those not tied to the NCAA through member schools have no legal obligation to help the NCAA during their investigation process.

Wednesday’s Knight Commission meeting also went over processes discussed or implemented because of the Rice Commission’s April 2018 report. Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey, president of the board of directors for the NABC, made waves by questioning where accountability comes from when it comes to coaching penalties.

Asking why “there’s been no hammer from the top of campus,” Brey asked why schools haven’t been accountable with coaches who break the rules.

“Why hasn’t an athletic director or a president acted in some of these current cases?” Brey said.

“I think a lot of our coaches want to know why hasn’t the hammer come down? I’m a little naïve to it. Is it legal stuff? A lot of lawyers? I think our profession would love to see the hammer be dropped on some of these situations. We need an explosion back.”

Brey has every right to question where penalties are coming from since only Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has lost his job among head coaches during this scandal. There seems to be a lot of confusion on where some things stand with the NCAA, and its rules, but maybe we’ll get more clarification now that the FBI trials are done.

Juwan Howard will be the next Michigan head coach

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Juwan Howard is heading back to school.

The former Fab Five member has accepted an offer to replace John Beilein as Michigan’s next head coach, according to multiple reports. He has spent the last six seasons as an assistant coach with the Miami Heat, where he played his final three seasons as a pro. The Wolverines ultimately picked Howard over Providence head coach Ed Cooley and Luke Yaklich, who was an assistant on Michigan’s staff the last two years.

Stadium is reporting that Howard has agreed to a five-year deal.

This will be the first time in 25 years that Howard has been back in the mix on a college campus, since he left Ann Arbor to become the No. 5 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, and that is what makes this decision a risk for the Wolverines.

Howard has never been an assistant coach at the college level. He hasn’t worked at the high school level. He hasn’t coached in the AAU ranks. There is not a strong track record for this kind of a hire. Of all the former NBA player that have ended up coaching a college team, Fred Hoiberg is really the only one that has had unquestionable and continued success. Kevin Ollie won a national title with UConn, but he not only was an assistant coach on Jim Calhoun’s staff for two years before getting the job, his title-winning team was a No. 7-seed that rode Shabazz Napier’s coattails to the title and he eventually got fired after driving UConn straight into the ground. Chris Mullin was a bust at St. John’s. The jury is still out on Patrick Ewing at Georgetown, but two years in he’s sitting with a 34-29 record and a 14-22 mark in the Big East.

Avery Johnson. Isiah Thomas. Clyde Drexler. Mike Dunleavy. Mark Price. Danny Manning. The list of NBA guys that have gone back to school and fizzled out is long.

Penny Hardaway — and, to a point, Jerry Stackhouse — are different. Penny worked his way up from the bottom. He started as a middle school coach and spent about a decade coaching in the high school and AAU ranks in Memphis before taking over the Tigers. Stackhouse coached an AAU program before taking over at Vanderbilt as well. They know the ins and outs of building relationships at that level. They had a keen understanding of what it means to be a head coach at the college level when they got hired, even if that understanding came from dealing with coaches recruiting their players.

Howard doesn’t have that.

And it doesn’t mean that he is going to be a flop.

When you have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade campaigning for you, the kids you will be recruiting will take notice. When your candidacy brings Jalen Rose and Chris Webber together, there are going to be people in Ann Arbor that want to make this work. He spent two decades playing in the NBA. He was an assistant on Erik Spoelstra’s staff, a staff that has turned the Heat into one of the better defensive teams in the NBA ever since LeBron left. That same staff has also proven themselves capable of establishing a culture of hard work, toughness and player development.

Howard may not have a ton of experience on a college bench — or doing the things required to run a college program — but the coaching chops are there.

But there is no question that this is a major risk.

And while Warde Manuel’s decision to hire Ollie when he had the same job in Storrs did result in UConn winning their fourth national title, he also ended up bringing in the guy that had to be fired just four years after cutting down those nets.

Clemson forward Baehre tears knee ligament

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CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson forward Jonathan Baehre is out indefinitely after tearing a knee ligament.

The school says the injury occurred during practice Monday. There is no timetable for his return.

Baehre is a 6-foot-10 junior transfer from UNC Asheville who sat out last season. With four senior starters gone off this year’s team, Baehre was expected to play a major role for the Tigers.

Coach Brad Brownell says it’s an unfortunate injury for Baehre and the team. Brownell says Baehre had worked hard since joining the Tigers and he had no doubt Baehre would approach rehab strongly “and have a very productive career at Clemson.”

Baehre, from Germany, started 21 games for UNC Asheville in 2017-18 and averaged 7.4 points and 4.6 rebounds a game.

Sam Mitchell leaves Memphis coach Penny Hardaway’s staff

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis coach Penny Hardaway says former NBA coach of the year Sam Mitchell is no longer part of his staff.

Mitchell worked as an assistant coach for Memphis in 2018-19 during Hardaway’s debut season. Hardaway said Tuesday at a news conference that Mitchell has “decided to go in another direction.”

Hardaway added that “we definitely appreciate Sam so much and support him.” Hardaway said Mitchell will always be like an “older brother” to him.

Mitchell was an NBA head coach with the Toronto Raptors from 2004-09 and with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2015-16. He was named the NBA Coach of the Year in 2007.