Great defense no shock
Louisville coach Rick Pitino doesn’t need to be convinced his opponent, Wichita State, is a good team.
“I’ll say this without any exaggeration, they’re best team we’ve faced this year on the defensive end,” Pitino said. “They’re Marquette on steroids in terms of the way they play defense.”
Pitino went down the list of teams the Shockers have defeated and their margins. Wichita has beaten its NCAA foes — Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, La Salle and Ohio State — by a 10.6-point margin.
“They’re not just winning, they’re pounding teams,” Pitino said. “You can’t do that unless you’re a great basketball team.”
Shockers, Longhorns in 2013 CBE field
For the second straight year the CBE Classic will include a team that has played in the previous season’s Final Four.
This time, it’s Wichita State. The Shockers will be joined in the field by Texas, DePaul and Brigham Young. The CBE semifinals, finals and consolation will be Nov. 25-26 at the Sprint Center.
Wichita State, the West Region champion, will take on Louisville in Saturday’s national semifinal.
Last year, Kansas, coming off its Final Four season, won the CBE championship.
Wichita State played in the CBE in 2009, falling to Pittsburgh and defeating Iowa for third place. Texas won the tournament that year, and the Longhorns also won the CBE in 2005.
Boeheim retire? Nah
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim got the question. Again.
How long do you plan to coach?
“About 10 years ago, I thought it was my last year,” Boeheim said. “I really did. I’m still here.”
Ten years ago, Boeheim could have walked out on top after beating Kansas for his lone national championship. This is his first Final Four since then. He’s 68, owns more career victories (920) than anybody in the game’s history next to Mike Krzyzewski, and feels like the end isn’t in sight.
“I have no plans on retiring,” Boeheim said. “I used to say it’s not that far away and people used to get excited … because they didn’t want me back.”
Bravo for Missouri Valley
Wichita State is the first Missouri Valley school in the Final Four since Larry Bird’s 1979 Indiana State team, and Shockers coach Gregg Marshall, although he’s only been in the conference since 2008, felt the league pride.
“There’s more money coming in league, shares of NCAA Tournament money, there’s more exposure for the league, ultimately it could help recruiting league side,” Marshall said. “In many ways it helps not only us, but the conference.”
Beilein climbs the ladder
Michigan is John Beilein’s seventh coaching stop, and he has climbed the ladder of success. He started at a community college, went to Division III Nazareth (N.Y.), Division II LeMoyne, then ascended in Division I from Canisius to Richmond to West Virginia to Michigan. He wouldn’t change a thing about his path.
“You cannot get stale fighting for your life in all those situations I was in,” Beilein said. “Each opportunity that we embraced, the program was at a low or one of its lower points. So we would say the clock is ticking. They’ll be with you the first and second year but if you don’t start turning it around there’s going to be someone else.”
Trey Burke voted top player
The Associated Press chose Michigan guard Trey Burke as national player of the year, giving the Big Ten two of the major awards. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo won the Sporting News’ national player of the year award. The Wooden Award for the nation’s top player will be announced on Friday.
Burke leads the Big Ten in assists at 6.8 and is second in scoring at 18.8 points.
Iowa State assistant leaves
Iowa State assistant coach Jeff Rutter has joined Ray Giacoletti’s staff at Drake after spending seven seasons with the Cyclones, the last three as the director of basketball operations under Fred Hoiberg.
• Iowa State is defending its handling of an investigation that found employees made 79 telephone calls to recruits that violated NCAA rules. In a statement Thursday, the school rejected claims that officials kept details of the violations from the public and oversight groups for too long.
Auburn reviews allegations
Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said Thursday that the school is reviewing allegations of NCAA rules violations in the football program during its 2010 national championship season. Jacobs said he has no reason to believe the allegations are credible.
Jacobs issued a statement Thursday in response to a report a day earlier by former New York Times and Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts that was posted on roopstigo.com. The story quoted former Auburn players Mike McNeil and Darvin Adams alleging they received or were offered money from coaches. McNeil said he had a grade changed to stay eligible.
McNeil is scheduled to go on trial Monday for armed robbery charges. He and three teammates from the 2010 team were dismissed from the squad following their arrests a couple of months after Auburn beat Oregon in the BCS championship, led by Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.
| Blair Kerkhoff, firstname.lastname@example.org and Star News Services