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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / April 21.
  • NEW YORK — A year ago, Memphis coach Josh Pastner had only seven scholarship players, making a full practice virtually impossible.

    “Last year I ran the practices a lot like an NBA team, when the NBA team is finishing their regular season in the sense that a lot of times we didn’t practice,” Pastner said Wednesday at Conference USA Media Day in lower Manhattan. “We just did walk-throughs and shooting because we had to get to the games because of our numbers.”

    NEW YORK — Memphis athletic director R.C. Johnson was happily enjoying the food and festivities at the Conference USA Men’s Basketball Media Day in downtown Manhattan Tuesday, but that didn’t stop him from imagining life in a BCS conference.

    “I don’t want to lie to you,” Johnson said. “In the ideal world, the SEC would call and we’d go tomorrow.

    “But in the meantime we’re going to do everything we can to make this thing [Conference USA] get stronger and stronger.”

    While Johnson has long maintained that the SEC would be his first choice, Memphis is often linked to the Big East.

    Naadir Tharpe solved Kansas’ point guard concerns of the future Wednesday morning when he verbally committed to the Jayhawks.

    The 5-foot-11 Tharpe is a Worcester, Mass., native who plays for coach Jason Smith at Brewster (N.H.) Academy. He cancelled a visit to Oklahoma Wednesday and will take his trip to  Kansas as scheduled Oct. 22. He also had a planned visit to St. John’s the following weekend, which now becomes obsolete.

    “It was hard for him to call [Oklahoma] coach Jeff] Capel today,” Smith told Gary Bedore of the Journal-World. “Oklahoma was involved. UCLA came in yesterday and wanted him to visit, but his mind was set on going to Kansas.

    Rutgers coach Greg Schiano isn’t thrilled about taking his team away from the cozy confines of Rutgers Stadium on Saturday in order to play Army (4-2) at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

    But since Rutgers (3-2) will make $2.7 million for the game, compared with $1.5 million for a normal home game, it was a necessary evil.

    “It was purely financial. I know as the head coach of the football program at Rutgers, we’re part of the University, we’re part of an Athletic Department and I don’t think it would be responsible not to take advantage of the opportunity that’s presented to us,” Schiano said Tuesday.

    In an article in today’s New York Times, Nedim Karakas, the general manager of the Turkish basketball club Fenerbahce Ulker, says the father of Kentucky freshman star Enes Kanter “negotiated” his salary with the team.

    “On the contrary to what he had said about his academic approach, he himself was the one to negotiate the terms of his son’s salary,” Karakas said.

    Mehmet Kanter told The Sporting News last week that he “never once” discussed salary with Fenerbahce and kept “meticulous” records to ensure his son retained his amateur status.

    It’s official.

    The Knicks will start 7-foot-1, 250-pound Russian center Timofey Mosgov Wednesday against the Boston Celtics at MSG.

    Mozgov will join Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Amar’e Stoudemire in the starting lineup.

    However, it now appears that Mozgov won’t have to go up against Shaquille O’Neal because Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday night after the Celts played the Philadelphia 76ers that he was leaning toward sitting Shaq against the Knicks. Shaq, 38, missed the Sixers game with a bad hip.

    “I’m just taking a break,” Shaq told the Boston Herald. “I”ve just got a couple of knicks and knacks. The real deal is about to start, so it’s all about that. I want to make sure that starts perfectly for the team.”

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