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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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Tuesday / April 23.
  • NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Kentucky PracticeOn the eve of Kentucky’s first NCAA Tournament game against Hampton, John Calipari weighed in with few a choice quotes from Louisville.

    Calipari was asked about playing 90 minutes from Lexington:

    “It’s all the same. This is a different deal. Everybody is in the same boat. Everybody is 0- 0. We were in the final game last year. We had ten losses. It doesn’t matter how many losses you have. Everybody is 0-0. I told the team, whatever happens, they made history. Whatever happens. I didn’t tell them, if you lose tomorrow, you make history again. So every game you play, it’s a one-game tournament. Not best of five, best of seven. It’s why all I talk about is us being at our best. If that’s not good enough, I’ll deal with it.”

    UnknownFrom the moment UCLA was named to the 68-team field of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, talking heads have been ripping their selection.

    But confronted by the media in Louisville on Wednesday, Bruins coach Steve Alford defended the Bruins’ selection while also making some choice comments on overall No. 1 seed Kentucky.

    “It’s been kind of funny to us,” Alford said. “It’s UCLA. The history and tradition of UCLA in this tournament goes way, way back. But there’s other teams. When you look at resumes and RPIs that were behind us, it’s not like we were the last one in. We didn’t get an 8 or 7-seed either. We got an 11-seed, but we weren’t the last team in either. I think our guys have done enough.”

    “We were in a very good league. We finished fourth in that league. I think the problem is everybody saw us play Kentucky, and that was in December, where we scored seven points in the half. We’re much better team now than we were in December….Kentucky’s embarrassed a lot of teams this year. We just happened to be one of them.”

    Larry BrownHow good is Kentucky?

    Or how bad is the NBA’s Eastern Conference?

    Ask SMU coach Larry Brown.

    “I don’t want to put pressure on [Kentucky coach] John [Calipari],” Brown said Wednesday in Louisville where SMU will face UCLA in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday. “I feel real close to him. I’m so proud of what he’s done. I think they’d honestly make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference if they were in the NBA.”

    Brown, of course, is the only coach to win an NBA title (Detroit) and an NCAA championship (Kansas).

    Kentucky, which plays Hampton in Louisville on Thursday, is 34-0 and seeking the first unbeaten season in college basketball since Bob Knight’s Indiana team did it in 1976.

    Rick Pitino says as good as this current Kentucky team is, they’re not better than his loaded 1996 Kentucky team.

    That club featured Antoine Walker, Tony Delk, Walter McCarty, Mark Pope and Nazr Mohammed and went 34-2 en route to winning the NCAA championship game against Syracuse.

    “Well, I don’t think they’re as good as my ’96 team,” Pitino said Wednesday on “The Dan Patrick Show.” “Remember, the SEC was much tougher back then. Much tougher teams. Our average margin of victory back then in the SEC, I believe, was about 28 points per game. They’ve had a lot of close games.

    “I think they’re an awesome basketball team, one of the best of all time…Somebody’s going to have to play a Villanova-type game to beat them.”

    CAWffmtUMAE5rfp.jpg-largeAfter winning the New York PSAL AA city championship game at Madison Square Garden, New York’s Wings Academy will now try to capture the title at the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School Nationals in the Big Apple.

    “Our focus right now of course is on the [New York State] Federation tournament, that’s our primary focus,” Wings coach Billy Turnage told SNY.tv Wednesday morning. “But anytime you can get invited to something prestigious like Dick’s, it’s always a beautiful things for the program and the kids as well.”

    The event runs April 2-4, with the quarterfinals and semifinals at Christ the King, and the championship game at the Garden.

    Wings is the No. 8 seed in the event and will face No. 1 seed Oak Hill Academy in the quarters. 

    headshot_2_PecoraTom Pecora was fired on Wednesday after spending five years at Fordham, the school announced.

    Potential replacements for Pecora will likely include Albany coach Will Brown, a Long Island native who has taken the Great Danes to five NCAA Tournaments; Iona coach Tim Cluess, a Queens, N.Y., native who has guided the Gaels to two NCAAs and two NITs; Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, who has taken the Jaspers to two straight NCAAs and lost Tuesday night’s play-in game to Hampton; and Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell, who has taken that program to three NITs and two CBIs in the last six years. Columbia’s Kyle Smith could also be a possibility.

    “The decision was based on the fact that the University’s men’s basketball program has regrettably not achieved the desired results or made the sustained progress hoped for under Mr. Pecora’s leadership, as measured by the won/loss record over five years, which was 44 – 106 (29.3 percent), and the recruited student athlete retention rate over the past four years, which was 50 percent,” the school announced.

    Jim Boeheim will retire from coaching in three years, Syracuse University announced.

    “Coach Boeheim has also told me that he intends to retire as Head Coach in three years,” Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud said in a statement. “His goal in making this decision and announcement now is to bring certainty to the team and program in the coming years, and enable and plan for a successful, longer-term transition in coaching leadership.”

    Boeheim, 70, has gone 966-333 in 39 seasons at the school. Led By Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse won the 2003 national championship under Boeheim.

    Syverud also announced that Dr. Daryl Gross will no longer be the school’s athletic direction, instead choosing to transition to another position within the university.

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