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#pounditSunday, October 25, 2020

College Basketball

Gregg Marshall addresses allegations that he punched player, choked coach

Gregg Marshall

Gregg Marshall has finally addressed the shocking allegations against him that surfaced in a report last week, and the Wichita State basketball coach is emphatically denying some of the most troubling claims.

Stadium’s Jeff Goodman spoke with former Wichita State players, coaches and several other sources who say Marshall punched a player during practice and choked an assistant coach on another occasion. In a statement released to The Wichita Eagle on Tuesday, Marshall said neither of those incidents ever took place.

“In response to the allegations put forward in the media, I simply state unequivocally that I have never physically struck a player or colleague,” Marshall wrote. “Allegations claiming otherwise are false.”

The alleged acts were witnessed by several former players. Shaquille Morris says he was the player who was struck twice by Marshall during a 2015 practice. Morris also told Stadium he saw Marshall choke former assistant coach Kyle Lindsted during a practice in the 2016-17 season.

Marshall said he is fully cooperating with Wichita State’s investigation, which is being conducted by a St. Louis-based law firm. The coach spoke of the importance of allowing the investigation to take place without outside influence.

“An unrelenting character assassination by a member of the media that repeatedly targets me and my family threatens to undermine the impartiality of the investigation,” Marshall wrote. “It has therefore been particularly difficult for me and my family to read recent media reports that include inaccuracies about my coaching style and the basketball culture we have created at Wichita State.”

Marshall, 57, has also been accused of demeaning players with racial and ethnic slurs. A total of 10 players have transferred from Wichita State in the past two years, including seven after last season.

After the allegations surfaced, a video of Marshall going ballistic on a referee during a 2016 exhibition game went viral again. You can see that clip here.

Video of Gregg Marshall’s 2016 meltdown goes viral following allegations

Gregg Marshall

An explosive report that was published this week revealed that Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall is under investigation for verbal and physical abuse of former players and members of his coaching staff. Those who have seen the footage of Marshall’s infamous 2016 meltdown are probably not all that stunned.

Marshall had one of the most animated coaching meltdowns you will ever see in August 2016, and it came during a meaningless exhibition game. Wichita State was playing against McGill University in Montreal when Marshall was ejected for arguing a call. He then went after the referees and had to be physically restrained by players and members of his staff.

Marshall’s actions were completely out of line, but he expressed little remorse after the game. He said he was unhappy with both the officiating and the way his team was playing. Marshall also said he wanted to “get my money’s worth” after being ejected.

“I’m definitely not proud of my reaction to that situation, but at some point your players have to know you’re going to stand up for them and you’ve got some fight in you,” Marshall said at the time, via Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle. “Once I reacted, I said ‘I might as well get my money’s worth.’”

Apparently that was just one example of Marshall’s anger issues. The report from Stadium’s Jeff Goodman this week includes allegations from a former Wichita State player who says Marshall punched him in the head during practice. Marshall is also accused of choking an assistant coach, among other troubling behavior.

The 2016 incident was embarrassing, but it was mostly viewed as a coach losing his cool and doing something regrettable. For Marshall, it looks like it was part of a pattern of behavior.

Gregg Marshall accused of punching player, choking assistant coach

Gregg Marshall

Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall is under investigation following allegations of physical and verbal abuse, and two of the claims are that he punched a player and choked one of his assistants.

Former Wichita State forward Shaq Morris told Stadium’s Jeff Goodman that he was punched by Marshall during a 2015 practice. Morris, who played at Wichita State from 2014-2018, says the incident took place in October of 2015 and Marshall punched him in the head.

Morris said he knocked former teammate Zach Brown to the ground while trying to block his shot during the team’s practice on Oct. 22, 2015. He claims he went over to help Brown up when he was sucker-punched in the side of the head by Marshall.

“I went over to help (Brown) up, and as I was helping him up to make sure he was okay, bam – I’m struck on the left side of my face with a punch,” Morris recalled. “I turned back with my fists ready to punch or swing. I don’t know who did what and I see Marshall standing there. I turned around and started walking out.

“He punched me while I was facing away over my right shoulder, hit me in my jaw. I turned and coaches are surrounding us at the time.”

One former player said Marshall called Morris a “motherf—er,” while another former player recalled Marshall accusing Morris of trying to hurt Brown.

Goodman was also told by three eyewitnesses that Marshall choked former Shockers assistant coach Kyle Lindsted at practice during the 2016-17 season. Lindsted, who now works as an assistant at Minnesota, declined to comment.

Those two alleged incidents with Marshall are said to be part of a pattern of behavior that Wichita State began investigating last month. Marshall, 57, is also accused of demeaning players with racial and ethnic slurs. A total of 10 players have transferred from Wichita State in the past two years, including seven after last season.

Marshall is known for being a fiery coach and having a temper, which we saw when he went after referees during an exhibition match several years ago. You can see a video of that incident here.

Chris Mack fires back at John Calipari about Kentucky-Louisville game

Chris Mack Louisville

Chris Mack fired back at John Calipari on Tuesday about this year’s Kentucky-Louisville game.

Last week, Mack expressed reservations about playing Louisville’s annual rivalry game with Kentucky. He said he wasn’t sure the game would happen because he felt it would be unfair for Louisville to get a home game this year with limited or no fans, only to go to Lexington the following year with fans.

“I don’t know [if the Kentucky game will happen,” Mack said on ‘Full Court Press with Fanta and Adams’ last week. “Where is the equity of Kentucky coming here in front of no fans, and then having to go to Rupp Arena in front of 21,000 fans? We recognize that it’s the best rivalry – I know I’m biased – in all of college basketball.”

Mack said he preferred to do a neutral site game this year and then get their home game next year.

“We’re not afraid to play anybody. We’ll play the game at a neutral site. If it screws up their schedule next year, we’ll play two neutral games in a row. There are a lot of logistics that go into scheduling so I’m not trying to throw it all on UK, but we don’t want the rivalry or the game to end,” Mack said to the Louisville Courier Journal.

Earlier on Tuesday, Calipari said Kentucky had a backup plan in case Louisville pulls out of the game.

“I know there was a question on the Louisville game but we have a date and a time unless that changes, if they choose not to play and we’ll plug in another team. We already have that team set,” Calipari told reporters, via Kentucky Sports Radio.

Mack wasn’t about to be made to look like a fool and like his program was preventing the game.

Later in the day, Mack responded with a great video he posted on Twitter. He laid out the entire background to the situation.

Mack says they had a Dec. 12 mutually-agreed upon date to play the game. He says Kentucky backed out of that date because they were returning from London a week earlier and felt the Louisville game would be too soon. Kentucky’s London trip got canceled, and the Wildcats scheduled Notre Dame for Dec. 12 instead.

Mack also says they honored Cincinnati’s request to move a rivalry game between the teams to a neutral site for this year. Then he took a sarcastic shot at Kentucky.

“I don’t want to stand in the way of college basketball’s best rivalry. Whatever is most convenient for Coach Cal, we’ll do it!” Mack said.

Neither school’s schedule for this season has been released yet.

We knew that Mack could be an intense guy at times. He just took that to a new level.

Lightning used Virginia basketball team as Stanley Cup inspiration

Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup

The Tampa Bay Lightning completed the big turnaround from 2019 to 2020, and they gave credit to Virginia as a source of inspiration.

The Lightning were the best team in the regular season last year by far. They had 128 points, which was 21 more than the next closest team and more than any other team in NHL history. They won the Presidents’ Trophy and had the top seed in the playoffs. Then they went out and got swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Blue Jackets.

Going from best in the league to being swept in the first round was embarrassing and led to jokes and apologies. Similarly, Virginia was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in 2018 and then got embarrassed by becoming the first No. 1 seed to ever lose to a No. 16 seed. But in 2019, Virginia came back to win March Madness.

Kevin Shattenkirk, who signed with Tampa Bay last year, said the team used Virginia’s turnaround as inspiration.

“We fought it the first 10-15 games. We were finding our identity. Guys were still dwelling on the sweep against Columbus. And then once we realized we had a brand new team here, lot of new faces … we looked at the Virginia men’s basketball team and what happened to them and used that as a source of inspiration as well. Everyone wanted to make this happen and had that hunger,” Shattenkirk said in a postgame interview with NBC.

Just like Virginia, Tampa Bay came back from an embarrassing postseason exit to win the championship the following season. Winning it all in the bubble circumstances made the championship even more memorable for Tampa Bay.

College basketball start date reportedly finalized by NCAA

Mark Emmert

College basketball appears to be in good shape for a late November start.

According to college basketball reporter Jeff Goodman, the Division I council has approved Nov. 25 as the start date for the 2020-21 college basketball season. That’s slightly later than usual, but not significantly so.

What we don’t really know is what the season will look like. There have been hints that the NCAA is looking into a bubble environment, but for what, exactly, we don’t know. Some preseason tournaments have either been canceled or relocated as well. There’s even been an extremely wild concept regarding how the season might be concluded.

The important part is that college basketball is more or less on course and only two months away.

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NCAA considering 353-team tournament for basketball season?

Mark Emmert

The 2020 men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the next college basketball tournament we see may be the biggest one ever.

A source from the ACC told Dan Wolken of USA Today on Wednesday that the NCAA is considering having a tournament this upcoming season that includes every single team. That would be a field of 353. Wolken is “skeptical” that it will actually happen, but apparently plenty of people are in favor of the idea.

The goal, according to Wolken, would be to give smaller programs an incentive to play the 2020-21 season. Many of those schools struggle to make money anyway, let alone if fans are not allowed at games. Having everyone take part in a massive tournament would be a way to generate revenue.

If the NCAA did hold a tournament with every team, several bubble sites could be used to eliminate the need for extensive travel. It’s possible that is what the NCAA had in mind when it filed for this recent trademark.

There has been talk for years about expanding the NCAA Tournament field, though no one ever envisioned including all 353 teams. It still seems like a stretch, but we know by now that anything can happen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

NCAA trademark filing hints at possible bubble preparations

Mark Emmert

The NCAA may or may not need to play some competitions in a bubble in the near future. Based on one hint, they’re certainly preparing for the possibility.

Last week, the NCAA filed to trademark the phrase “Battle in the Bubble,” according to Darren Rovell of Action Network. The NCAA would intend to use it on tournaments not exclusive to basketball, as well as on apparel.

There is no clear indication what the trademark would specifically be used for. In fact, it may just be the NCAA covering its bases in case it’s needed. It’s definite evidence that a bubble scenario for some sort of tournament is at least on the table.

This isn’t the first indication of a bubble being an option. This may be the reality for things like March Madness within the next year depending on how things go.

John Thompson dies at 78, reminding us of famous Allen Iverson speech

Allen Iverson

The basketball world lost a legend on Monday, as former Georgetown coach John Thompson has died at 78.

Georgetown confirmed the news in a statement.

There is no word yet on a cause of death.

Thompson coached Georgetown from 1972-1999. He led the team to a national championship in 1984 with the help of Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing. He coached several former NBA superstars including Ewing, Allen Iverson, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning. Thompson had a winning percentage of .714 with the Hoyas, and he was the first African-American coach to win a national title.

During his emotional Hall of Fame induction speech in 2016, Iverson famously thanked Thompson for saving his life. He said no other schools would give him a shot after he got into trouble in high school.

Iverson paid tribute to Thompson on Twitter after learning of the coach’s death.

Ewing is currently the head coach at Georgetown. Thompson’s son, John Thompson III, coached the Hoyas from 2004-2017. Thompson’s legacy is a huge part of the Georgetown men’s basketball program.

Rick Pitino praises Knicks’ ‘great’ coaching hires

Rick Pitino

Count Rick Pitino among those who are very happy with the direction of the New York Knicks.

Pitino went out of his way on Twitter Saturday to praise the Knicks’ recent coaching moves. He not only gave plaudits to the hiring of Tom Thibodeau, but he also was pleased with the addition of Kenny Payne as an assistant.

If the Knicks turn it around quickly, it appears that you heard it from Pitino first.

Pitino, now the head coach at Iona, is a New Yorker, and he coached the Knicks for two seasons. He wants to see them do well. If they’d taken his advice three years ago, they’d probably be in a lot better shape, but better late than never.