The Dagger

  • LaVar Ball again says Lonzo is better than Steph Curry, and he needs to stop

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 5 hrs ago

    LaVar Ball seems to think his eldest son is better than Steph Curry. That’s cute.

    LaVar first unleashed the opinion earlier this week, but the exact words didn’t imply that Lonzo was better right now, only that he eventually would be better than the reigning NBA MVP.

    Now LaVar is doubling down and saying Lonzo is better right now. And he’s doing it  in the middle of a broadcast of his son’s game :

    Lonzo Ball's dad repeats his idea that his son is better than Steph Curry.

    A post shared by espn (@espn) on Feb 18, 2017 at 9:36pm PST

    “I’ma tell you, right now, he’s better than Steph Curry to me,” LaVar said. And no, there’s not any important context that engulfs the statement. It’s as blatant and as flagrant as it sounds. It’s preposterous.

    “Put Steph Curry on UCLA’s team right now, and put my boy on Golden State, and watch what happens,” LaVar said.

    OK, OK. Enough is enough.

  • John Calipari rants on coaching profession: 'We're firing coaches midseason... Are you s----ing me?'

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 8 hrs ago

    John Calipari is a really intelligent and really well-spoken person. He’s also very passionate. Combine those three things, and you get some good (and well-reasoned) postgame rants.

    Calipari gave one of those rants after a narrow win over Georgia Saturday. So amped up that he didn’t even sit down, Calipari addressed criticism of Georgia head coach Mark Fox, and made the criticism a referendum on what’s wrong with the coaching profession — or rather athletic directors’ shortsightedness — in a two-minute-long rant.

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    He eventually moved on from the gripes with Fox to NC State’s decision to fire Mark Gottfried with four games left in the season.

    Here’s full video, from the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Kyle Tucker:

    Cal is the best.

  • North Carolina, back near full strength, gets back to its dominant best in win over Virginia

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 8 hrs ago

    All Tony Bennett could do was stand there, helpless.

    Virginia’s head coach was perched on a Dean Smith Center sideline, his arms folded, his lips pursed, lonely among a sea of Carolina blue during the second half of a beatdown, and he must have known that any course of action, any attempts to reverse the tide that was vigorously rolling to and fro in front of him, would have been in vain.

    There is a certain fusion of mood and style that North Carolina basketball occasionally digs deep for and finds on this court, a mood defined by energy and pizzazz, a style defined by high-flying offense, intense defense and overpowering bigs, that at its most extreme is indomitable. Sometime on Saturday, during the buildup to their primetime showdown with Virginia, the 10th-ranked Tar Heels found it. And with it, their subsequent dominance of the 14th-ranked Cavaliers could hardly have been more comprehensive.

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  • Doug Collins' nerves nearly had him in tears during the final minutes of son Chris' game at Northwestern (Video)

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 10 hrs ago

    You probably know Doug Collins first and foremost as some sort of basketball person. He was a college star; a No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft; an NBA all-star; the head coach of the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards and Philadelphia 76ers.

    Doug Collins is, however, first and foremost, a dad. He’s a basketball dad. And from his midcourt seat at his son’s game Saturday, he embodied the emotions of every nervous basketball dad ever.

    Collins’ son, Northwestern coach Chris Collins, was locked in a tight battle against Big Ten cellar-dweller Rutgers. The Wildcats, who just need to avoid bad losses to clinch a first NCAA tournament berth in program history, trailed for much of the second half. With the game tight late on, Papa Collins couldn’t bear to watch:

    Doug Collins is in a glass case of emotion.

    — josh bolander (@josh_bolander) February 19, 2017

    Once ESPNU cameras located Doug on Saturday and realized he was a nervous wreck, they couldn’t resist going back to him again…

    And again…

    And again:

  • Dwayne Bacon's scoreless game dooms Florida State to another road loss

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 11 hrs ago

    In each of his first 26 games this season, Florida State’s leading scorer Dwayne Bacon scored at least 10 points.

    That streak ended in oddly emphatic fashion Saturday in the 17th-ranked Seminoles’ 80-66 loss at Pittsburgh.

    Bacon, an all-conference candidate who entered averaging nearly 18 points per game, went scoreless for the first time in his two-year college career. Weirder still, he did not attempt a shot in a virtually invisible first half.

    Determined to assert himself after halftime, Bacon forced two pull-up jump shots and two quick 3-pointers in the second half’s opening five minutes. Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton pulled Bacon with the Seminoles down 10 less than a minute later and did not reinsert him into the game the rest of the second half.

    Bacon’s no-show contributed to one of Florida State’s worst losses of the season against a Pittsburgh team that’s 4-10 in the ACC and would be fortunate to make the NIT. Florida State has plenty of quality depth, but it relies on Bacon to be a go-to threat and set the tone.

    It also didn’t help that the Seminoles played uninspired defense until they fell behind by as many as 15 midway through the second half.


  • Michigan State's Eron Harris stretchered off the floor with knee injury

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 13 hrs ago

    If Michigan State is going to extend its streak of consecutive NCAA tournaments to 20, the Spartans may have to do it without the lone senior in their starting five.

    They lost starting shooting guard Eron Harris on Saturday afternoon to a potentially serious right knee injury.

    With nine minutes left in Michigan State’s 80-63 loss at Purdue, Harris drove baseline, went up for a shot in traffic in the paint and came down awkwardly on his right leg. Harris crumpled to the ground howling in pain and left the floor strapped to a stretcher as his teammates looked on with somber faces and tear-stained eyes.

    Eron Harris clearly in a lot of pain…hope he's OK #Injury #Ouch #michiganstate @MSU_Basketball @eronjoseph HD –>

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  • Bubble breakdown: Missed opportunities abound in the ACC

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 14 hrs ago

    Three weeks and one day before the NCAA men’s basketball selection committee reveals its 68-team field for the 2017 NCAA tournament, no conference in America houses more intriguing candidates for that 68-team field than the ACC.

    And at around 1:45 ET on Saturday afternoon, three of those candidates were immersed in battles — battles that, if they were to end victoriously, could have drastically changed the discussions the committee will have on Selection Sunday. Clemson trailed Miami by two late in the second half in Coral Gables. Wake Forest was knotted up with Duke at halftime in Durham. Virginia Tech led Louisville by one on the road.

    The Tigers and Demon Deacons in particular have two of the trickiest résumés in college basketball, in part because both had been in similar situations before, and in part because on almost all those occasions, both had come up short. Clemson had been within a few possessions of potential tournament teams in the second halves of eight other conference games; they had lost seven of them. Wake had taken this same Duke team to the wire in Winston-Salem three weeks prior; but it had coughed up a double-digit lead.

  • Kansas edges Baylor to close in on record-tying 13th straight Big 12 title

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 16 hrs ago

    In the history of college basketball, only John Wooden-era UCLA has ever won 13 straight conference championships.

    Kansas is now one victory away from matching that.

    The Jayhawks tightened their white-knuckle grip on the Big 12 this week with back-to-back thrilling victories over their two toughest challengers. Five nights after staging a miraculous late rally to edge West Virginia, Kansas scored the final eight points of Saturday’s showdown at Baylor to emerge with a 67-65 win.

    Those two narrow victories give third-ranked Kansas (24-3, 9-2) an all but insurmountable three-game advantage over both the Bears (22-5, 9-5) and Mountaineers (20-6, 8-5) with four regular season games remaining. To clinch at least a share of the Big 12 title, the Jayhawks need only one more victory. It will take just two more Kansas wins to guarantee an outright championship.

    It was fitting that Lucas was the hero on Saturday because he is the unsung key to Kansas’ season thus far.

    Ultimately it was Kansas who showed tremendous mental toughness and struck the final blow.

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    Follow @JeffEisenberg

  • Lame duck coach Mark Gottfried compared himself to a run-over dog in his pregame speech (Video)

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 19 hrs ago

    NC State head coach Mark Gottfried was fired Thursday — kind of.

    After a week filled with speculation, reports that NC State had already begun its search for a successor, and a 24-point home loss to North Carolina, the Wolfpack program announced that Gottfried would not be retained for a seventh season. But he wasn’t immediately let go. Athletic director Debbie Yow is allowing Gottfried to coach the rest of the season — four regular season games, plus the ACC tournament.

    Gottfried coached the first of those four games Saturday at home against Notre Dame, and NC State let ESPN cameras inside its locker room for Gottfried’s pregame speech. It was … motivational? Maybe? More than anything, it just seemed awkward:

    Pregame, Mark Gottfried compared himself to a run-over dog …

    "Bite the damn tire!"

    Some players forced out a grumbled “yeah.”

  • No slowing down Wichita State, even in transition year

    Matt Fortuna at The Dagger 1 day ago

    CHICAGO — Gregg Marshall isn’t exactly the sentimental type. Just ask him if this Wichita State team of his is ahead of schedule so far.

    “We don’t try to evaluate our season until it’s over,” Marshall said Sunday after beating Loyola-Chicago. “Hopefully I’ll be on a beach somewhere with refreshments and we can recollect on what type of season we had.”

    And yet …

    “But to this point, (now 24-4) absolutely. We took this team to Canada this summer and I would’ve bet a lot of money we wouldn’t be (24-4), so the guys have really worked hard and bought in.”

    That’s easier said than done, especially with the proverbial bull’s-eye eternally on the back of a program that will never be mistaken for just another opponent on the schedule in the Missouri Valley Conference.

    No, these Shockers will never shy away from their new standard, not as long as Marshall is in charge. And it doesn’t matter that they’re currently navigating Year 1 without an all-time four-year starting backcourt — two current NBA players whose accolades at Wichita State included a Final Four appearance, a 35-1 season and a Sweet 16 berth.

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    Follow @matt_fortuna