Wichita State fires its athletic director Boatright

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WICHITA, Kan. — Wichita State fired athletic director Darron Boatright on Wednesday amid growing criticism over the university’s inability to compete in the new market of name, image and likeness payments to athletes.

University President Rick Muma said in a news release that Boatright had achievements and successes during his tenure, but “there were significant, ongoing concerns that became acute in recent weeks, ones that I did not believe could be addressed.” Muma did not elaborate.

Sarah Adams, the school’s senior associate athletic director and senior women’s administrator, will become interim athletic director while a search is conducted for Boatright’s replacement.

Critics targeted Boatright in recent weeks because Wichita State had not raised funds after the Supreme Court lifted a ban on college athletes being compensate for their names, images and likenesses, The Wichita Eagle reported. They said it was Boatright’s responsibility to ensure the school’s donors were aware of the new rules and be prepared with incentives to retain current players and attract new ones.

The men’s basketball program had eight scholarship players enter the NCAA transfer portal this spring.

“Where we erred was focusing on educating our athletes about NIL and not just collecting cash and paying kids to come to Wichita State,” Boatright said in a previous interview. “We were told all along this was not pay-for-play, but now it appears the NCAA has no problems with that, so why not?”

Boatright, who was athletic director for six years, was given a two-year contract extension through June 2024 that gave him a 37.5% raise to $275,000 a year. Fans were critical because the extension was never publicly announced and came during the coronavirus pandemic, The Eagle reported.

No. 14 Houston edges Wichita State 76-74 in double OT

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WICHITA, Kan.- J’Wan Roberts’ dunk with 1.3 seconds remaining in double overtime gave No. 14 Houston a stirring 76-74 victory over Wichita State on Sunday.

It was Roberts’ only basked of the game and followed Wichita State’s Craig Porter hitting a tying 3-point shot with 5.4 seconds remaining in the second overtime.

The Cougars took the inbounds and raced up the floor hitting Roberts for the uncontested game-winner.

Josh Carlton scored 11 of his 23 points in the two overtimes, finishing 9 of 14 from the floor for Houston (22-4, 11-2 American).

Jamal Shead scored 13 points for the Cougars while Kyler Edwards, Fabian White and Ramon Walker each added 11.

Porter and Ricky Council each scored 17 for Wichita State (13-10, 4-7) while Tyson Etienne added 15.

Houston built a six-point lead in the first overtime behind Carlton, but Wichita State rallied and Porter’s free throw tied it with 18.1 seconds left. Walker’s 3-pointer at the buzzer fell short sending it to a second OT.

ON THE BOARDS

Houston leads the American in rebounding margin and offensive rebounding percentage (37.2 coming into the game).

But the Shockers outrebounded the Cougars 20-19 in the first half, allowing Houston only four offensive rebounds in 20 first-half opportunities. Wichita State was even better in the second half, outrebounding the Cougars 15-12. But in the first overtime, Houston grabbed four of the first five rebounds while quickly building a six-point lead And near the end of the second overtime, two Houston offensive rebounds led to Carlton’s three-point play with 13 seconds to play. Wichita State outrebound Houston 43-42 for the game.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: The Cougars remain in sole possession of first place in the conference and keep momentum heading toward March.

Wichita State: In position to get a home victory that eased some of the season’s disappointment, the Shockers could not finish off Houston.

UP NEXT

Houston: at Tulane on Wednesday

Wichita State: At Memphis on Saturday

Drake tops Wichita State for first NCAA win in 50 years

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Joseph Yesufu scored 21 points and Drake beat Wichita State 53-52 on Thursday night in the First Four, the Bulldogs’ first NCAA Tournament win in a half-century.

Drake’s last tournament victory had been 50 years ago to the day — March 18, 1971, against Notre Dame.

“To get a win for our program that hasn’t happened in 50 years – it’s really exciting,” Bulldogs coach Darian DeVries said. “These guys have fought through so much, and for them to be the ones to get us one, I think is really deserving.”

The Bulldogs were hardly overmatched in this year’s tournament field – they came in with 25 wins, second most of the 68 teams behind top overall seed Gonzaga, and their tense matchup with a longtime Missouri Valley Conference rival brought some early drama to the pandemic-affected tourney.

Wichita State’s Dexter Dennis made a 3-pointer with 8 seconds remaining to trim Drake’s lead to a point. The Bulldogs got the ball in to Yesufu, who was fouled. He missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to give the Shockers a chance, but Wichita State’s Alterique Gilbert settled for a long 3-pointer that hit the front rim as time expired.

“Perseverance,” Yesufu said. “We’ve been doing that all year.”

The win was extra validation for DeVries, who was rewarded this week with a contract extension through 2028-29.

Tremell Murphy added 11 points for 11th-seeded Drake (26-4), which advanced to play sixth-seeded Southern California in the West Region on Saturday.

Morris Udeze scored a career-high 22 points and Dennis added 13 for Wichita State (16-6), which made just 11 of 22 free throws.

It was the 152nd meeting between the former MVC rivals. Wichita State left for the American Athletic Conference in 2017. Both mid-major powers were given at-large bids into the NCAA field, and their matchup was dominated by defense – Drake shot 38% while Wichita State shot 34%.

The Shockers reached the NCAA Tournament after an offseason of turmoil. Seven players left the program, and longtime coach Gregg Marshall resigned before the season amid allegations of verbal and physical abuse. Isaac Brown was promoted to interim coach. Wichita State removed Brown’s interim tag last month as the Shockers won eight straight late in the season before closing with a one-point loss to Cincinnati in the AAC Tournament.

“I went to the locker room and I didn’t even talk about the game,” Brown said. “I said, `Man, I’m so proud of you guys. You guys were picked seventh. You won the AAC.’ … Great effort. We just didn’t get it done tonight.”

Drake missed 10 straight shots as Wichita State built an early 18-6 lead.

The Bulldogs rallied. Yesufu threw down a nasty one-handed dunk over Clarence Jackson on a fast break and then hit a 3-pointer with 7 seconds left in the first half to trim the Shockers’ lead to 21-20. Wichita State was scoreless for the last five minutes of the half.

Drake tied the game in the opening minute of the second half on a 3-point play by Darnell Brodie. Wichita State responded with a 9-0 run that included five points from Udeze.

Drake again recovered. Brodie’s reverse layup put the Bulldogs up 46-45 with just over four minutes to play.

“We kept letting them hang around,” Brown said.

SHUT DOWN

Tyson Etienne, Wichita State’s leading scorer at 17 points per game, was held to one point on 0-for-6 shooting. He was in foul trouble much of the night and played 27 minutes.

“They did a good job of staying with him,” Brown said. “He missed a couple shots. We didn’t do a good job of getting him open.”

MORE DEPTH

ShanQuan Hemphill, Drake’s leading scorer, came in off the bench after having missed more than a month with a broken left foot. The senior forward from Michigan City, Indiana, finished with three points and four rebounds in 10 minutes.

STAT LINE

Brodie, a 6-foot-10, 275-pound forward, finished with nine points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes.

UP NEXT

USC star Evan Mobley awaits the Bulldogs in Saturday’s first-round matchup. The 7-foot freshman became the first player to be named the Pac-12’s player of the year, defensive player of the year and freshman of the year in the same season.

Michigan St, Izzo in new spot as First Four participants

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INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan State and coach Tom Izzo are in an unfamiliar position.

Last time there was an NCAA Tournament, the Spartans reached the Final Four in 2019 — the most recent of eight trips under Izzo.

This time, Michigan State needed a late surge just to get into the Big Dance, and they’ll have to win an extra game, too. The Spartans (15-12) will face UCLA (17-9) on Thursday in a First Four matchup of No. 11 seeds in the East Region.

Izzo is just thankful to be playing, all things considered.

“You know and I know that three weeks ago nobody gave us a chance, including probably most of you and probably even me,” Izzo said. “We fought our way through, and that took some courage and guts, and I’m proud of them for that.”

It’s fitting that the Spartans will have just a little bit tougher road ahead than most of the qualifiers. Even in the most difficult of years, Michigan State faced extra challenges.

Izzo contracted COVID-19 early in the season, yet the Spartans opened with six straight wins. They started Big Ten play with three straight losses on their way to dropping nine of 13 overall, but they eventually bounced back late in the season with victories over Ohio State, Michigan and Illinois — which all finished in the top seven of the final AP poll.

Now, the Spartans will need to win Thursday’s matchup in West Lafayette to reach the final 64 and play No. 6 seed BYU on Saturday. That winner will face No. 3 seed Texas or No. 14 seed Abilene Christian on Monday.

“I’m not worried about facing anybody in this tournament,” Izzo said. “I don’t feel comfortable with UCLA and BYU or Texas, but I don’t feel afraid of UCLA, BYU or Texas or anybody else because we truly, truly have played the best teams in the country on a night-in and night-out basis, and especially in the last two to three weeks.”

With all the complications this season, Izzo is simplifying the situation.

“I still want to win the weekend,” he said. “The weekend just became a little longer. So, in this year of the pandemic, in this year of 2020-21, I might as well experience some more new things.”

Aaron Henry, a junior forward from Indianapolis, leads the Spartans with 15.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Joey Hauser, another junior forward averages 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. Senior guard Joshua Langford averages 9.6 points per contest.

Michigan State has had 11 players start at least five games. UCLA coach Mick Cronin is impressed with how Izzo has made it work.

“He’s got a different kind of team this year because he’s played many, many different lineups — they can change at the drop of a hat and go with different guys, so there’s a lot of personnel for our guys to digest because they play so many guys,” he said. “Some of that is him searching, and some of it’s strategy to match up with his opponent.”

Cronin said as long as Izzo is around, the Spartans are a threat.

“It means we’ve got to beat a Hall of Fame coach,” Cronin said. “One thing about coach Izzo — the reason he has survived so long and he’s had such a great career is that they’re never easily defeated. He refuses to give in. That’s why he was able to rally his team.”

UCLA counters with a trio of sophomore guards. Johnny Juzang has averaged 14 points per game in his first season since transferring from Kentucky. Jaime Jaquez Jr. averages 11.7 points and 6.0 rebounds and Tyger Campbell averages 10.5 points and 5.6 assists.

Izzo likes how they play for Cronin.

“He’s got kids that have bought in, and I have a lot of respect for Mick and the way he has done it and doing it in an environment that’s not as easy to do it in,” Izzo said. “He brings a smash mouth kind of team and it will be a different team than maybe some we’ve played out West.”

WICHITA STATE vs DRAKE

Drake and Wichita State will play the most important of their 152 games against each other on Thursday and the winner advances to face No. 6 seed USC on Saturday.

Drake is a longtime member of the Missouri Valley Conference. Wichita State competed in the MVC for decades before leaving for the American Athletic Conference in 2017. The schools played a home-and-home series in all but two seasons during a 72-year stretch that began in 1945-46.

Drake coach Darian DeVries played college ball at MVC member Northern Iowa and was a longtime assistant at Creighton – also a former MVC program.

“I’m very familiar with them over the years as a player and a coach,” DeVries said. “It’s certainly an exciting match-up. I watched them the other day in their game against Cincinnati. They won their league, they’re a talented team and have always had good teams.”

Drake (25-4) opened the season with 18 consecutive wins and ShanQuan Hemphill leads the way with 14.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

Isaac Brown took over as Wichita State’s interim coach early in the season. The Shockers (16-5) started the season with a 1-2 record but found their way. They won eight straight late in the season, including a victory over Houston on Feb. 18. Tyson Etienne, the co-American Athletic Conference player of the year, leads the way with 17 points per game. Alterique Gilbert adds 10.3.

NORFOLK STATE vs APPALACHIAN STATE

Norfolk State (16-7) is back for the first time since 2012, when the Spartans upset No. 2 seed Missouri before losing to Florida. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion has won six straight and hasn’t lost since Feb. 8. Devante Carter leads the way with 15.5 points and 5.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

Appalachian State (17-11) is in the tournament for the first time since 2000 and seeks its first win. The Mountaineers won one game the entire month of February before running off four victories in four days to claim the automatic bid.

Adrian Delph leads the way with 13.2 points per game. Michael Almonacy was the Sun Belt tournament MVP after scoring 32 points in the championship game win over Georgia State. Justin Forrest averages 10 points per contest and has been strong the past four games.

The winner will play No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga.

MOUNT ST. MARY’S vs TEXAS SOUTHERN

Mount St. Mary’s (12-10) won the automatic berth out of the Northeast Conference. Damien Chong Qui, a 5-foot-8, 155-pound guard, leads the way with 15.3 points and 5.5 assists per game.

The Mountaineers were below .500 as recently as the last week of February. They upset Bryant in the conference title game, giving the Bulldogs their only home loss of the season.

Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Texas Southern (16-8) seeks its second-ever NCAA Tournament win. Michael Weathers leads the team with 16.5 points per game. John Walker III averages 11.9 and Joirdon Karl Nicholas averages 11.3.

The winner will play No. 1 seed Michigan on Saturday.

Drake rewards basketball coach DeVries with 8-year extension

Darian DeVries calls out to his players
Bryon Houlgrave/The Register
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DES MOINES, Iowa — Drake basketball coach Darian DeVries has agreed to an eight-year contract extension through 2028-29, athletic director Brian Hardin announced Wednesday night.

DeVries has led the Bulldogs to 20-win seasons each of his first three years at the school. Drake, at 25-9, has the third-most wins in the nation and will play Wichita State in an NCAA First Four game Thursday.

“Coach DeVries has demonstrated that he is the perfect coach for Drake not only with historic results on the court, but with the way he has embraced our campus and community,” Hardin said. “President (Marty) Martin and I are thrilled that he will continue to be our head coach for a long time and continue to impact our student-athletes and community.”

Terms of the extension weren’t announced.

DeVries, a longtime Creighton assistant before taking the Drake job in 2018, has twice been named the Missouri Valley Conference coach of the year.

The Bulldogs won the MVC regular-season title in his first year and have appeared in the conference tournament semifinals three times, including one title-game appearance.

“I’m grateful for the faith that President Marty Martin and Director of Athletics Brian Hardin has shown in our staff and their confidence in the direction of our program,” DeVries said in a statement. “I’m thankful that we have the opportunity to build upon the foundation our staff and players have built the last three years.”

No. 7 Houston to AAC title game with 76-74 win over Memphis

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Quentin Grimes kept making big shots for No. 7 Houston, and then Justin Gorham secured a third consecutive appearance for the Cougars in the American Athletic Conference Tournament championship.

Gorham scored Houston’s last six points on a nifty one-handed reverse layup and four free throws, and the Cougars held off Memphis for a 76-74 semifinal win Saturday.

“He’s the heart and soul of our team. I don’t know where we would be without Justin,” Grimes said. “He’s a magnet to the ball. Wherever the ball is it seems like he’s right there. His hands are like a magnet to the ball.”

Grimes had 21 points with five 3-pointers for the Cougars (23-3), who are already a lock for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Gorham finished with 15 points, and Marcus Sasser had 14.

Boogie Ellis scored 27 points for Memphis, but he had a huge turnover with 49 seconds left. He fell down with the ball when trying to respond to the Gorham layup that put the Cougars back in front 72-71.

Gorham added his free throws before Ellis made a running 3-pointer just before time expired. The last free throws for Gorham came after being fouled rebounding a missed 3 by Ellis with 4 seconds left.

DeAndre Williams had 16 points for Memphis (16-8), an NCAA bubble team which overcame a 12-point halftime deficit and led by four with just over five minutes left. That was only seven days after losing in Houston on a game-ending banked 3-pointer after tying that game with 1.7 seconds left.

“It’s crazy right now,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said of his emotions postgame. “Just hard to accept having the game won and knowing what was at stake, and not being able to pull it through.”

Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said he knew both of those games would be difficult against the Tigers.

“We could have won both, and we did. We also could have lost both, but we didn’t,” he said. “So the fact that we’ve found a way to win different ways, Memphis has got some really talented kids.”

Hardaway, in his third season coaching at the school where he was a standout player, said he is “just praying” that the Tigers have shown enough to be an at-large selection Sunday.

“It’s a tough loss. The whole season we’ve been working to try to get to the NCAA Tournament,” Ellis said. “This game, we needed it bad.”

The Cougars are looking for their first conference tournament title since 2010 in Conference USA when Tom Penders was their coach. They play Sunday against fifth-seeded Cincinnati, which beat regular-season champion Wichita State 60-59 in Saturday’s other AAC semifinal.

Cincinnati (12-10) won the last two AAC title games over Houston, 69-57 in 2019 and 56-55 in 2018. Last year’s NCAA and AAC tournaments were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Both teams are playing for a championship tomorrow, not the automatic qualifier,” Sampson said.

Williams had 10 points when Memphis opened the second half with a 17-5 run, getting even at 46-all on his jumper with 10:45 left that ended his personal 6-0 run.

Grimes had a fast-break dunk with 17 minutes left, but the Cougars missed seven shots in a row until Grimes made a 3-pointer with 8:55 left, right after Ellis made a 3. Ellis and Grimes traded quick 3-pointers again only a couple of minutes later.

“Quinn Grimes was a man,” Sampson said.

BIG PICTURE

Memphis: The Tigers were again without guard Alex Lomax because of a left ankle injury. Memphis hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2014. Memphis is 7-2 since January, with the only losses in that span being to the AAC’s only ranked team within a week.

Houston: The Cougars converted eight Memphis turnovers into 14 points before halftime, the last on a buzzer-beating breakaway dunk by Grimes after he stole the ball from Ellis. … Houston had an early 11-0 run bookended by a pair of 3-pointers by Sasser.

UP NEXT

The AAC championship game Sunday in only the second meeting this season between the teams. Houston beat the Bearcats 90-52 at home on Feb. 21.