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Friday, February 24, 2017

College Basketball

John Gillon’s winning shot helps Syracuse students in classroom

John Gillon shot

John Gillon’s impressive buzzer-beating three-pointer to beat Duke on Wednesday not only boosted Syracuse’s chances at making the NCAA Tournament, but it also helped out some students.

Connor Grossman, who covers Syracuse basketball for the “Daily Orange” student newspaper, shared that all students in his political science class got three bonus points for their midterm Thursday thanks to Gillon’s shot.

That’s pretty sweet. Grossman told LBS that his class is entitled Politics and the Military. The students in the class should be thankful for Gillon, as well as their professor for apparently supporting the Orange basketball team.

Rick Pitino calls heckling UNC fan ‘coward,’ says it was not a student

Rick Pitino

Rick Pitino had to be restrained from going after a North Carolina fan as he was heading into the tunnel at halftime Wednesday night, and the Louisville coach blasted the fan after the game. He also noted that the fan was not a UNC student.

While he did not reveal exactly what it was that the fan said to him, Pitino said he has less patience for heckling fans who are not students than those who are.

“He just got in my face and said something I didn’t like,” the coach explained. “I take it from the students all the time. I expect it from students. But from an adult, who then turns his back on me, like he’s a coward … and he is a coward.”

Pitino added that he has always considered Chapel Hill to be a friendly environment, but he is starting to rethink that.

“I’ve always said this is the classiest place in college basketball, until I met a fan on the way out,” he said. “It always reminded me of a class place, but they’re getting just like some of the other places now.”

Tar Heels coach Roy Williams seemed equally upset about the incident.

While Pitino is exaggerating a bit when he says the fan “got in my face,” something was obviously said that set him off. You can see the video of Pitino trying to go after the fan here.

Rick Pitino restrained from going after North Carolina fan

Rick Pitino

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino had to be restrained from going after a North Carolina fan while heading into the tunnel at halftime of his team’s game in Chapel Hill on Wednesday.

Pitino’s Cardinals entered halftime trailing the Tar Heels 33-30 in a close ACC game. It’s unclear what the fan said to enrage him, but Pitino was clearly fired up and had to be held back by some of his assistants:

Pitino was fiery throughout the first half of the game, so it’s not too surprising he was heated at halftime.

It seems like Louisville tried to address the issue with the fan:

The fan was ejected. According to ESPN’s broadcast, the fan shouted, “Pitino, you suck!”

This isn’t the first time Pitino’s had an issue with opposing fans. There were questions last season about whether or not he flipped off Kentucky fans while heading into the tunnel (see it here).

John Gillon sinks Duke with buzzer-beater (Video)

John Gillon

Syracuse may have punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a spectacular home win over Duke on Wednesday night that came on a buzzer-beater by John Gillon.

With the game tied at 75, Syracuse got a defensive stop and passed the ball to Gillon with around five seconds left. Gillon took the ball up court, then went up for his shot from about five feet beyond the arc. He banked it in to give Syracuse a 78-75 win.

Gillon finished with 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting, with 19 of the points coming in the second half.

The Orange are now 17-12 and 9-7 in conference play after the win, while Duke is 22-6. Syracuse has now beaten Duke, Florida State and Virginia at home this season.

Jim Boeheim rips article questioning his retirement plan

Jim Boeheim

Jim Boeheim had a harsh reaction to an article questioning whether he will stick to his announced retirement plan.

Syracuse announced in March, 2015 that Boeheim would coach for three more seasons before turning the program over to assistant Mike Hopkins. That move was announced seemingly as a way to please the NCAA as the school was being penalized for violations.

In an article published by SI Tuesday, Pete Thamel speculated about the future of Boeheim, Coach K, Roy Williams and Rick Pitino. In his section on Boeheim, Thamel said the longtime coach wants to stop coaching on his terms — not when Syracuse announced in 2015 that he would — which might complicate his exit.

Boeheim ripped the article in a response provided to Syracuse.com’s Bud Poliquin.

“The only thing he got right in that story is the spelling of my name,” Boeheim told Syracuse.com in response. “It’s all speculation. Pure speculation. There’s nothing in that story that is remotely, in any way, true.”

That sure is a way to shoot down some speculation.

Boeheim has previously said that his philosophy is you stop coaching when you stop winning. That would lend to the theory that he’s not planning to adhere to the Mike Hopkins 2018 takeover, despite his denial.

H/T The Spun

5 bubble teams that made a big move this weekend

Jim Larranaga

Believe it or not, Selection Sunday is less than three weeks away. That may have crept up on college basketball fans, but coaches and teams on the bubble know that date is coming quick. The time for statement wins is running out, so any team fighting for a spot in the Big Dance needs to make its move as soon as possible.

We’re headed down the home stretch, and these five teams have their foot on the gas in their attempt to speed past their bubble competitors in the last few days.

1. Marquette

When the Golden Eagles beat Villanova on Jan. 24, conventional wisdom placed them comfortably in the tournament. Toppling the defending champions en route to a 14-6 record looked like the perfect way for Marquette to punch its ticket.

Things changed over the next two weeks. Marquette lost four of five, with its only win coming over lowly DePaul.

Losing to Providence, St. John’s, and Georgetown (all bubble teams or worse) removed any good will Marquette earned with the Villanova win. This weekend, the Golden Eagles got a chance to right the ship, welcoming Xavier to Milwaukee. Xavier is hobbling into March with the injury bug creeping into full-on epidemic territory, but when Selection Sunday rolls around, a win over the Musketeers will still count as a top-50 win. Marquette took advantage and won handily, 83-61.

With four regular season games left, the Golden Eagles likely need a 3-1 finish to feel anything close to safe before heading to Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament. Had they lost to Xavier at home, their bubble might have popped this weekend.

2. Pittsburgh

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John Calipari quickly shoots down any talk of him leaving to coach Pelicans

John Calipari

John Calipari has been the subject of so many NBA rumors that he’s going out of his way to try to shut them down before they even get started now.

After two of his former Kentucky players, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, were reunited with the New Orleans Pelicans, Calipari responded to a non-serious question about leaving Kentucky to coach New Orleans with a very serious answer.

“Not happening,” Calipari said Monday on the Dan Patrick Show, via Jon Hale of the Courier-Journal.

In fact, Calipari said his former players don’t want to see him in the NBA.

“I’ve held every player I coached back, if you ask them,” Calipari said. “I’d rather be in the situation I’m in to be help, to be a mentor, whatever they need me to be.”

Calipari does think Cousins and Davis can work together, but cautioned that it will probably take some time to come together.

“(Cousins) and Anthony are going to have to figure it out together, and it takes time,” Calipari said. “It’s just not gonna happen in a week. It just doesn’t. … They’re two players that want to win, that like each other.”

Calipari was often linked to Sacramento when Cousins was there. He doesn’t sound very interested in those links continuing.

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