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#pounditThursday, March 4, 2021

College Basketball

Creighton suspends Greg McDermott over ‘plantation’ comment

Greg McDermott

Creighton on Thursday announced a suspension for Greg McDermott, but not before allowing him to coach on Wednesday.

The university announced that McDermott has been suspended from all team activities indefinitely. McDermott will not coach in Creighton’s season finale against Butler. The school says they are considering other sanctions.

McDermott was talking to his team after a loss to Xavier on Saturday about the importance of sticking together. While doing so, he used a bad choice in words by mentioning the “plantation.”

“Specifically, I said: ‘Guys, we got to stick together. We need both feet in. I need everybody to stay on the plantation. I can’t have anybody leave the plantation,'” McDermott says he told his team.

McDermott apologized publicly and said he offered to resign over his remarks. The school allowed him to coach in Wednesday’s loss at Villanova before announcing the suspension on Thursday.

McDermott, 56, has been the head coach at Creighton since 2010. He has taken Creighton to the NCAA Tournament five times and was named the Big East Coach of the Year last season.

Video: College basketball player’s cockiness on free throw backfires

Bryce Aiken free throw

One college basketball player’s cockiness at the free throw line backfired on Wednesday night.

Seton Hall guard Bryce Aiken entered Wednesday’s game against UConn 23-for-23 for the season on free throws. He referenced that stat while at the line against the Huskies in the second half. Of course, you can guess what happened next.

Put the sound on to hear it:

Yes, Aiken said “I ain’t never missing” while in the middle of shooting.

Not only did Aiken miss the first free throw, but he also missed the second.

Aiken made 2 of his 5 shots in 16 minutes and missed both free throws. He had four points as his Pirates went down 69-58.

Video: Cleveland State uses 7-foot-2 player perfectly at end of game

Mabor Majak Cleveland State

Cleveland State kept its NCAA Tournament hopes alive with a thrilling win over Purdue Fort Wayne on Tuesday night, and some savvy coaching at the end of the game helped seal the victory.

Cleveland State was leading 107-104 with six seconds left in triple-OT when coach Dennis Gates decided to go to his bench. Gates had 7-foot-2 freshman Mabor Majak, who has barely played at all this season, guard the inbound pass. Majak hopped up and down at the baseline and interrupted the inbound pass enough to create a turnover.

That is exactly why most kids who are 7-feet tall and up can find a spot on a Division I basketball team. The sky is the limit for them, and Majak’s height was incredibly valuable in that particular situation.

While the Majak play was genius, it wasn’t the most exciting one of the night. Cleveland State would have lost if not for this insane shot to force a third overtime.

Cleveland State advanced to the Horizon League semifinals with the win.

Tom Izzo makes case for Michigan State to make NCAA Tournament

Tom Izzo

This is going to be the toughest year ever for the NCAA Tournament committee to select the field. Between odd schedules, missed games, and roster inconsistencies, choosing the at-large bids won’t be easy. But Tom Izzo believes his team deserves one.

Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans beat Indiana 64-58 on Tuesday night. Michigan State is now 14-10 and 8-10 in conference play.

Is that enough to get a spot in the Big Dance? Izzo believes so.

The Spartans have had 13 of 15 players test positive for COVID-19 since the summer. Five players tested positive in January, which put the program on hold for nearly three weeks. They lost their first three games after the hiatus, but went 6-3 thereafter.

Michigan State still has two regular season games against rival Michigan remaining. A win against the Wolverines would likely seal a tourney berth.

ESPN’s Dan Dakich deactivates Twitter account amid controversy

Dan Dakich

ESPN college basketball broadcaster Dan Dakich has deleted his Twitter account amid a controversy stemming from a Twitter argument with some Duke people.

Dakich got into it on Twitter with some people as part of a debate over Jalen Johnson’s decision to opt out of the remainder of Duke’s basketball season. Dakich was among those who criticized Johnson for leaving the team. Criticism of some of Dakich’s remarks led to a Twitter debate about student-athlete compensation. Dakich argued that student-athletes are compensated in non-financial ways, while others argued that the NCAA’s system is unfair and players are exploited by schools for money. Among those arguing with Dakich were Duke lecturer Nathan Kalman-Lamb and historian and podcast host Dr. Johanna Mellis.

On Wednesday, Dakich addressed the back-and-forth on his radio show.

“I had somebody come at me. Buncha academics last night,” Dakich said, via Sean Keeley of Awful Announcing. “Two guys and a lady, right? Two guys and a lady came at me. And they said, ‘well, you’re yelling at student-athletes while they’re being exploited’ or something, and I said, look, maybe, but I…I was in the arena and you guys were sitting outside b—-ing. Now, remember, it was two girls…two men and one lady. Guess what that got called? Sexist. Be careful. I didn’t even realize, I just said b—-ing because it’s what people do. It’s what everybody does, everybody just b—-es. But that’s sexist apparently because I said b—-ing and a lady was in the conversation. And I said outside the arena, and then she wanted to, quote, go at in the pool. Well, if you go at it in a pool, that’s a public place and then I’m gonna have to get divorced, and then it’s just gonna be a problem.”

According to Ian Kennedy of CKSN.ca, Dakich also proceeded to refer to Kalman-Lamb as a “d-bag,” insult his appearance, and then spelled out his name for his listeners.

On Sunday, Dakich deactivated his Twitter account. At the same time, ESPN told The Big Lead in a statement that the network was “taking this matter very seriously and are in the process of looking into it.”

Dakich has never been shy about courting controversy. He’s even gotten into it with a big-name college basketball coach about things he’s said, and seems to genuinely relish the attention it brings.

John Calipari scraps plan to schedule extra game after latest Kentucky loss

John Calipari

John Calipari knows that Kentucky’s hopes of making the NCAA Tournament are almost non-existent.

Kentucky lost at home 71-67 to Florida on Saturday. The Wildcats are now a pathetic 8-14 on the season and have no shot at making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. They would have to miraculously win the SEC Tournament in order to qualify.

But Calipari had some hopes of making a case for the selection committee. Had Kentucky won Saturday’s game, they would have been 9-13 and 8-7 in conference play. They had thoughts of scheduling a highly-ranked team in order to build a case for an at-large selection, but that was scrapped after the defeat.

Even at 9-13, receiving an at-large bid seemed like a major stretch.

Best of luck in the SEC Tournament, Calipari. Because that’s your only chance of making the Big Dance.

It’s been a long, tough season for Calipari, and it hasn’t gotten any better.

5 college basketball bubble teams in need of a big win

Coach K Mike Krzyzewski

March 1 is right around the corner and plenty of college basketball teams are starting to feel the heat. Despite the strangest season we’ve ever see, with games moved, canceled, and heavily affected by COVID-19, the selection committee will still need to sort through varied resumés to build a 68-team bracket.

This will surely be the most difficult season for the committee to sort out, given the varying number of games played and players available for many teams. It could make the stretch run of the regular season, with recency bias in full affect, the most crucial piece of the season.

With that in mind, here are five teams in need of big wins over the next few weeks before conference tournaments begin.

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Video: Roy Williams has hilarious response to UNC’s loss to Marquette

Roy Williams UNC

Roy Williams had a funny response to North Carolina’s loss to Marquette on Wednesday night.

North Carolina and Marquette only scheduled Wednesday’s game four days ago. The Tar Heels have had numerous cancellations over the last month-plus of the season due to COVID-19, so they tried to get in an extra game. But Marquette came into Chapel Hill and beat them 83-70.

After the loss, Williams was asked what he would tell Tar Heels fans questioning the game being scheduled given the defeat. Williams had a great response.

“We can’t operate in hindsight … if you had told we were going to lose, hel- yeah, we wouldn’t have played the game,” Williams joked. “Carolina fans, they’re not that dumb. If they are, I’ve got no answer for them.”

He’s right. What else can you say? Of course they didn’t intend to lose. This has been tough for Williams, who also had to answer questions last year after a bad home loss too.

Chris Mack apologized to John Calipari over trash-talking video

Chris Mack

Chris Mack apologized to John Calipari over a trash-talking video that surfaced on Saturday.

Mack’s Louisville Cardinals beat Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats in December in the rivalry game between the two programs. Later that evening, Mack was seen in a video with former Louisville football player, Eric Wood, celebrating in the background as Wood talked trash. The video (watch here), which mentions former Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne, was sent to Payne as a joke because he and Payne are friends.

The video originally was kept private but went public on social media Saturday, leading Mack to reach out to Calipari.

Mack said that Calipari was “gracious” and “understanding” regarding the video.

Louisville and Kentucky are big rivals and Mack has ribbed Calipari in the past. Now we’re supposed to be upset over one coach celebrating a win over his rival with a trash-talking video? What have we come too when this is considered an issue?

Jim Boeheim offers strange defense of Jalen Johnson comments

Jim Boeheim

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is trying to do some cleanup on his comments about Duke’s Jalen Johnson.

Johnson, a highly-regarded freshman, opted out of the remainder of the season last week, prompting Boeheim to say Johnson was “hurting” the Blue Devils and they would be better off without him. On Saturday, he seemingly walked back some of those remarks while simultaneously offering a strange defense of them.

“This is no dispersion, casting dispersion on Jalen Johnson,” Boeheim said, via Kyle Boone of CBS Sports. “I haven’t even seen Jalen Johnson play this year to be honest. He’s a tremendous player, will probably be a great pro.

“Just in those two games, game and a half, they were a better team than I’ve seen this year. Nothing against Jalen Johnson. Some people have said he shouldn’t have left school. I didn’t say that. Some people have said he’s not thinking about his team. I didn’t say that. I don’t even know Jalen Johnson, I haven’t seen him that much, I don’t even know how good he is.”

It doesn’t make a lot of sense for Boeheim to say what he originally said if he’s barely even seen Johnson play. The Syracuse coach made the original comments on his radio show, and it almost seemed as if he didn’t expect them to garner any widespread attention, hence the muddled attempt to clarify them.

Boeheim making harsh comments about players, even on other teams, isn’t really new or unique to this situation. In the future, he should probably be better-equipped to defend those remarks if he’s going to keep making them.