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#pounditWednesday, January 19, 2022

College Basketball

John Calipari not about to let cancellations stop Kentucky

John Calipari at a press conference

John Calipari is not about to let some COVID-related cancellations stop his Kentucky Wildcats.

Numerous programs recently have gone on pause or had games cancelled or postponed due to COVID issues. Kentucky’s game against rival Louisville that was scheduled for Wednesday was postponed too because of COVID issues with the Cardinals. So the Wildcats got together with Western Kentucky and asked the Hilltoppers to play on Wednesday instead.

Kentucky won the game 95-60, and a portion of the game’s revenue went to a charity to help those in Kentucky who were hurt by the recent tornado.

The way Kentucky put on the game at the last minute led Calipari to make a statement about his team’s intent.

Even if a game gets postponed, Calipari is intent on finding some other solution to play. He said that he will find games and that his Kentucky Wildcats are willing to go on the road to make it happen.

You have to love that attitude.

Kentucky is 9-2 this season and has won two in a row.

Photo: Danny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Cavinder twins sign six-figure NIL deal with WWE

Hanna and Haley Cavinder at Fresno State

Twin sisters Hanna and Haley Cavinder are both again having excellent seasons with the Fresno State women’s basketball team, and they continue to advantage of the NCAA’s new name, image and likeness rules.

Hanna and Haley Cavinder confirmed to TIME this week that they have signed an NIL deal with the WWE. The agreement is worth six figures.

“We definitely didn’t grow up wanting to become wrestlers,” Haley said. “It just kind of happened. It’s right up our alley because it is entertainment. And that’s what Hanna and I do on the side.”

The Cavinder twins are two of 15 college athletes that have signed on with the WWE’s inaugural NIL program, which is called “Next in Line.” Hanna and Haley have massive social media followings, including nearly 4 million followers on their joint TikTok account. The juniors also have NIL deals with SoFi and Eastbay. Their combined income from the deals is pushing toward $1 million, according to TIME.

Haley is averaging 18.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game this season. She was named the Mountain West Player of the Year in 2021. Hanna, who is averaging 14.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists, is a two-time all-conference player.

Athletes across the country have already been cashing in on some unique NIL deals. Most people never envisioned twin sisters who play college basketball being paid by the WWE, but such is the new landscape in college sports.

Some colleges Bronny James has interest in reportedly revealed

Bronny James in uniform

LeBron James’ 17-year-old son Bronny is one of the most hyped high school recruits in the country for obvious reasons, but he has yet to publicly confirm interest in any colleges. We now know of a handful he may be looking at.

According to Eric Bossi of 247Sports, the younger James is believed to have interest in Duke, Ohio State, Tennessee and Texas.

LeBron is from Ohio and said many years ago that he would have gone to Ohio State if he played in college. Though, many have speculated that he would have ended up playing for Coach K at Duke. It would make sense for both teams to be on Bronny’s list.

The schools listed for Bronny at 247Sports are Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina.

Bronny, a 6-foot-4 combo guard at Sierra Canyon, will be eligible for the NBA Draft in 2024. LeBron has done his best to keep him shielded from the media, but the hype surrounding Bronny is about more than just his family name. He recently showed off his insane leaping ability and seems to be developing quickly. Bronny will have no shortage of offers from schools.\

H/T Barstool

Houston player goes viral for classy gesture after loss to Alabama

Jamal Shead picks up trash

Houston Cougars guard Jamal Shead went viral this weekend for a classy gesture after his team’s loss to Alabama on Saturday.

The Cougars lost 83-82 to the Crimson Tide. Houston was unable to score in the final seconds and left the court at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. extremely frustrated.

A Houston staffer kicked a chair and knocked down a few things as he exited the court. Then a player knocked over the trash and made a mess.

Shead wasn’t about to let all that happen on his watch. He decided to clean up the mess.

That was a classy and respectful move.

Shead scored 12 points in the loss and likely was as disappointed as the other members of the team. But he was composed enough to at least clean up and not leave a mess behind.

It doesn’t matter how famous, how big-time, or how good of an athlete/team you are. You’re never too big or too good to clean up after yourself. People will always appreciate those who exhibit such behavior.

Video: Dick Vitale shared emotional moment with crowd before Villanova-Baylor

Dick Vitale crying

Dick Vitale shared a really cool moment with the crowd prior to Sunday’s game between Villanova and Baylor.

Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, was on the call for the game in Waco and was introduced to the crowd pregame. He received a standing ovation that lasted over 30 seconds, and openly wept as he waved to the crowd.

The moment was similar to what Vitale experienced in his first game back on air in November. If anything, this might have been even more emotional considering it was the crowd paying tribute to the iconic college basketball broadcaster.

The 82-year-old Vitale announced his cancer diagnosis in October, and suggested his prognosis was fairly good. He certainly seems to be in top form as he continues working games while receiving treatment.

Mike Brey takes swipe at Kentucky after Notre Dame’s upset win

Mike Brey

Mike Brey could not help but gloat a little bit after his team upset Kentucky on Saturday.

Notre Dame earned their biggest win of the season by defeating the No. 10-ranked Wildcats by the final of 66-62. After the victory, the Fighting Irish head coach Brey got in a swipe at Kentucky.

Brey said that his team was probably a bit weathered given the schedule that they had already played.

“Why didn’t we schedule like Kentucky?” joked Brey, per Lee K. Howard of WKYT-TV in Kentucky.

Notre Dame entered play on Saturday with a 4-4 record on the year. Their four losses came at the hands of St. Mary’s, Texas A&M, Illinois, and Boston College. Meanwhile, Kentucky came into Saturday’s contest riding a seven-game winning streak. But some questions had been raised about the quality of the opposition they faced (Robert Morris, Mount St. Mary’s, Ohio, Albany, North Florida, Central Michigan, and Southern).

Brey still has a losing record against Kentucky (4-6) since he took over as Notre Dame coach back in 2000. But regardless, Brey has come a long way from looking for opponents on social media to now taking shots at other schools over their schedules.

Photo: Jan 25, 2020; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Mike Brey reacts during the first half against the Florida State Seminoles at Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Barkley calls out NCAA over Auburn investigation

Charles Barkley holds a microphone

Charles Barkley is a proud Auburn alum, and he is not happy with how the NCAA’s investigation into the school played out.

Barkley was in attendance for Auburn’s game against Nebraska on Saturday and appeared as a guest on ESPN’s coverage. Saturday marked the first game of coach Bruce Pearl’s suspension, which was handed down by the NCAA as part of the punishment for unethical conduct involving former assistant Chuck Person. The NCAA took four years to conduct its probe, a fact that was not lost on Barkley.

“Anytime something takes four years, they suck at what they’re doing,” Barkley said, via Matt Audilet of The Spun. “Let’s get that out of the way. The NCAA’s got to do a much better job.”

Barkley was not terribly concerned by the investigation, saying Auburn would “move forward” and adding that he fully supports Pearl.

In addition to Pearl’s suspension, Auburn was placed on probation and will face recruiting restrictions and a loss of two scholarships. The Tigers imposed a postseason ban last season, and the NCAA did not hand down any further postseason restrictions. The punishments stem from the fact that Person accepted bribes to direct Auburn players to a financial advisor.

It’s no secret that Barkley is an Auburn diehard. It’s no surprise he doesn’t think much of the scandal. Frankly, he probably has a point about the length of the NCAA’s investigation.

Photo: November 23, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Turner Sports sportscaster Charles Barkley before The Match: Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Few has harsh comments about Maryland fans

Mark Few

Gonzaga men’s basketball coach Mark Few has some thoughts on Mark Turgeon’s recent resignation and Maryland fans aren’t going to like it.

Asked specifically about Turgeon stepping down, which ended his 11-year run with the Terps, Few blamed it on Maryland fans. Point blank, period.

“That fanbase made it so miserable that it wasn’t worth it anymore. The toll it was taking on him and his family. And then I think you could see that effect, it was even taking a toll on his team,” Few said, via 247 Sports.

Few, who is close friends with Turgeon, undoubtedly has some additional insight. And he’s not the only one to feel this way.

“I don’t believe a college team should ever be booed. Not at home. You know on the road, I get it. But you should never boo college kids at home. I got a real problem with that. But the word fan is short for fanatic, so there you have it,” Few added.

Turgeon led Maryland to five NCAA Tournaments (would have been six had the 2020 tournament not been cancelled), but only went 5-5 in March Madness games. The Terps were also 3-6 in the Big Ten Tournament under Turgeon, reaching the semifinals just once.

Does that warrant cheering and support? It may not warrant booing at home, but the records and accomplishments certainly aren’t anything worth celebrating.

It’s admirable that Few would stand up for his friend, but Turgeon wasn’t receiving any unfair treatment. Fans are passionate — fanatical — and they let their voices to be heard. Don’t want to hear booing? Then win.

Penny Hardaway has harsh comment after latest Memphis loss

Penny Hardaway on the sidelines

Memphis dropped their fourth consecutive game on Friday night, falling to Murray State, 74-72. It was a loss — and now a streak — that doesn’t sit well with head coach Penny Hardaway.

“I’ve gone through plenty of adversity in my life,” Hardaway said after the game, via The Athletic. “This is a low point for me besides my knee surgeries.

“Never saw this coming and I feel like it’s happening for a reason. Until we all bond together, this type of stuff can happen. Other teams to me seem closer. They’re having fun. They’re making plays. We’ll get there.”

Memphis was having fun and making plays not too long ago. They opened with a 5-0 record this season and were ranked No. 12 in the country. Then came losses to Iowa State, Georgia, Ole Miss and, of course, Murray State.

Hardaway now believes he is to blame for the recent struggles.

“Bad coaching, that’s all I can say on tonight’s game,” Hardaway added. “This game is on me totally. No players. It’s strictly on me.”

Things get no easier for Hardaway or the Tigers from here. Their next two games come against No. 9 Alabama and No. 13 Tennessee. After that, they’ll tip-off against Alabama State and then open conference play.

If Hardaway can’t get himself and the locker-room veterans in order, the wheels could completely come off down in Memphis.

Photo: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Penny Hardaway has harsh criticism for his struggling Memphis squad

Penny Hardaway on the sidelines

Penny Hardaway had some harsh criticism for his Memphis Tigers after their latest loss.

Memphis fell to Ole Miss 67-63 on Saturday for their third straight loss. Their losing streak comes after they began the season 5-0. They have lost consecutive road games to SEC schools, and they lost a neutral-site game to Iowa State by 19.

After Saturday’s game, Penny criticized his players for their effort. He said he had been too nice, but that may be changing.

That’s not a great sign.

Hardaway received attention for attracting such a highly-touted recruiting class, including Emoni Bates. But one of the consequences of having highly-rated recruits could be the limit in what a coach feels they can teach and get out of the players. Maybe Hardaway feels he has hit a breaking point.

Bates was just 1-for-10 in the game and missed all four of his 3-point attempts. Second-leading scorer Jalen Duren scored just two points.

Photo: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports