Posted by Will Tucker on April 5th, 2013
- Pitt coach Jamie Dixon and point guard Tray Woodall made some sympathetic comments about the Panthers’ former assistant, Mike Rice. Dixon was careful not to defend Rice’s actions but became visibly emotional as he called the disgraced coach “a good friend” and “a good person.” Woodall, who said Rice was the reason he came to Pitt in the first place, defended his former coach unequivocally. “They are going at my man Mike Rice too hard,” Woodall tweeted, contending he was “not the only coach to put his hands on a player, or talk the way he did.” If Woodall’s comment was in earnest and there are other college basketball coaches behaving like Rice, we can only hope they’re exposed and swiftly purged from the coaching ranks.
- Saturday’s Syracuse-Michigan game represents an elite point guard match-up between Michael Carter-Williams and Trey Burke: It’s only the second meeting of two players with season averages of 12 points and six assists per game to take place in the Final Four since officials began tracking dimes in 1983. The first such meeting? UNC’s Raymond Felton versus Illinois’ Deron Williams in the 2005 National Championship game. ESPN’s stat divination personnel tells us (predictably) that Burke holds an advantage on offense –– particularly in running the pick-and-roll –– while MCW is more productive on defense. Surprisingly, advanced stats reveal that Burke is a very competent on-ball defender, holding opposing players to 36% shooting and 0.75 points per play, while his Syracuse counterpart yields 32% and 0.79 points in on-ball situations. MCW’s overall defensive efficiency of 0.87 points per possession is second only to Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart among power conference point guards.
- C.L. Brown points that out Russ Smith is putting together a potentially historic individual NCAA Tournament effort. His 13 steals already place him at the top of that category in his program’s history, and he’s gaining ground in a number of record book stats both at Louisville and nationally. Through four games, Smith has averaged 26 points per game, shot 54% from the field, and hit 80% of his 40 free throw attempts. Extrapolating through two more games, Smith is on pace to finish ninth all-time in NCAA Tournament history in total points (156); second in steals (19); and, fourth in free throws made (48).
- Jim Boeheim says Rick Pitino should have been inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame last year. The Hall will announce its 2013 inductees on Monday, and Boeheim told the press assembled in Atlanta Thursday that “[Pitino’s] got better credentials than probably 80 percent of the coaches in there.” Pitino bestowed his own sound bite upon the media when he jokingly predicted that his mentor’s thriftiness would ensure he’s coaching for quite a while longer. “He’s just a cheap guy… and he’s going to coach until he’s 90 and hoard away every penny he’s ever made.” On the topic of his own retirement, Boeheim said he’s stopped making predictions: “People really used to get excited when I said [I would retire soon] because [if] we didn’t go to the Final Four that year, they didn’t want me back. But now the majority still probably wants me back next year — right now. After Saturday, who knows?”
- Rob Dauster points out that Boeheim had a hand in developing the careers of both Pitino and Michigan’s John Beilein. The Boeheim-Pitino connection is well documented, but the Louisville coach yesterday noted in a more obscure anecdote that Boeheim brought him to central New York as an assistant coach in part because he wanted a man-to-man defensive mind on staff. Ironically, it was Pitino who got the most out of the experience, learning the aggressive 2-3 zone that would become a trademark of his best Louisville teams some 30 years later. Beilein also revealed that Boeheim had been a huge advocate of his while the Wolverines coach was slowly moving up the coaching ranks. “He assisted me a great deal in actually getting my first Division I job,” Beilein noted, referencing an influential call the Syracuse coach put in to Canisius in 1992 on his behalf after Beilein had been passed over by several opportunities to graduate from Division II coaching.