Archive for the ‘NCAA’ Category

Stetson Bennett delivered the biggest throws of his storybook career and Georgia’s defense sealed the sweetest victory in program history, vanquishing rival Alabama 33-18 Monday night for its first national title in 41 years.

Bennett connected with Adonai Mitchell on a 40-yard touchdown to give No. 3 Georgia a 19-18 lead with 8:09 left and then hooked up with Brock Bowers for a 15-yard TD on a screen to put the Bulldogs up eight with with 3:33 left.

The final blow came from Georgia’s dominant defense. Kelee Ringo intercepted an underthrown deep ball down the sideline by Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young.

“I just saw the ball in his hands and that was all she wrote,” said safety Lewis Cine, the game’s defensive MVP.

Instead of going down with a little over a minute left, Ringo took off and behind a convoy of blockers and went 79 yards for a touchdown that set off a wild celebration by the relieved Georgia fans who packed Lucas Oil Stadium.

“There’s going to be some property torn up in Indianapolis tonight,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said, paraphrasing the late Georgia play-by-play man Larry Munson.

The Bulldogs (14-1) hadn’t won a national title since freshman Herschel Walker led them there in 1980. If simply snapping the drought wasn’t good enough, doing against No. 1 Alabama (13-2) had to make it feel even better.

“I cried, so pretty good,” Bennett said when asked how it felt.

Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide had won seven straight against the Bulldogs, including the last four against Smart, Saban’s longtime assistant.

Smart returned to his alma mater as coach in 2016 and has been chasing his mentor ever since. The Bulldogs lost two SEC championship games to Alabama, including one five weeks ago, and the 2018 CFP title game to the Tide under Smart.

“I told them we burned the boats. The only way home was through them,” Smart said he told his team about the Crimson Tide.

Mission accomplished.

Bennett, the former walk-on turned starter, finished 17 for 26 for 224 yards and no interceptions.

For most of the first three quarters, first CFP title game to be a rematch of a regular-season game was an ol’ fashion Southeastern Conference defensive struggle.

The first touchdown of the game came with 1:20 left in the third quarter. After James Cook broke a 67-yard run to get the Bulldogs into the red zone, three more running plays — a facemask penalty by Alabama — got them into the end zone. Zamir White went in standing up from a yard out with massive defensive tackles Jalen Carter and Jordan Davis leading the way as blockers. The Bulldogs led for the first time, 13-9.

After Alabama added another field goal, the Tide caught a break on strange looking turnover by the Bulldogs.

As Bennett was being taken down deep in Georgia territory, he tried to throw the ball away. The ball slipped loose, and bounced toward the sideline, seemingly harmless. Alabama’s Drew Sanders casually caught the ball as he was jogging out of bounds.

Surprisingly, the ruling on the field was a fumble, recovered by the Tide and replay upheld the call, giving the Tide the ball in the red zone. A few plays later, Young eluded the rush and found Cameron Latu for a 3-yard touchdown that put Alabama up 18-13 with 10:14 left in the fourth.

Once again, it felt like Georgia would not be able to break whatever spell Alabama seemingly had on the Bulldogs.

Bennett was 13 for 22 for 141 yards as the next drive started, and you could practically hear all skeptical Georgia fans wondering why Smart didn’t turn to his four-star back-up QB, J.T. Daniels, for a spark.

As he has done so many times during a career that started on the scout team and took a detour through junior college in Mississippi, the small-town Georgia kid nicknamed Mailman came through.

Bennett complete all three of his passes for 68 yards, including a long strike to Mitchell for a touchdown with 8:09 left that gave the Bulldogs a 19-18 lead after a failed 2-point conversion.

The Bulldogs’ defense clamped down on Young, forcing a three-and-out on the Tide’s next drive, and then Georgia went to work on sealing a long-awaited championship.

Young finished 35 for 57 for 359 yards with two interceptions and was sacked three times after Georgia didn’t bring him down one in the SEC title game.

“We played a heck of a game against a heck of a team for the first three quarters of the game,” said Saban, who was denied his eight national title, seventh with Alabama in the last 13 years. “Nobody can take the SEC championship away from this team, the Cotton Bowl championship.

“We just didn’t finish the way we needed to finish.”

Duke‘s Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest head coach in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history, will retire after the upcoming season, the Blue Devils confirmed Wednesday.

Assistant coach Jon Scheyer, who played for the Blue Devils from 2006-10, will succeed Krzyzewski as the program’s 20th head coach beginning in 2022-23.

“My family and I view today as a celebration,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “Our time at both West Point and Duke has been beyond amazing and we are thankful and honored to have led two college programs at world-class institutions for more than four decades. That, coupled with 11 unforgettable years as the United States National Team coach, has resulted in a remarkable journey.

“Certainly, I have been blessed to coach some of the finest young men and greatest players in basketball history as a direct result of these unique opportunities. For us, there is no greater joy than being part of our players’ respective endeavors through basketball, and more importantly, their lives off the court.”

Krzyzewski continued: “Our family is eternally grateful to everyone who contributed to our career for the past 46 years. So, to the countless members of our extended family, thank you very much.”

Affectionately referred to as Coach K, Krzyzewski is the second-longest-tenured head coach in Division I men’s basketball, behind only Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim. The 74-year-old has led Duke to five NCAA championships, 12 Final Four appearances, and 15 ACC Tournament titles over his 41 seasons in charge.

Krzyzewski and Boeheim are the only two coaches with 1,000-plus wins on their resume, and the former tops the list with 1,170.

RANKCOACHWINS
1Mike Krzyzewski1170
2Jim Boeheim1083
3Roy Williams903
4Bob Knight899
5Dean Smith879

Along with his collegiate success, Krzyzewski coached Team USA to gold medals in the last three Summer Olympics. He also picked up a pair of gold medals at the FIBA World Cup in 2010 and 2014.

Krzyzewski started his coaching career as an assistant under Bob Knight at Indiana in 1974. The former United States Army officer returned to West Point a year later as the head coach and oversaw his alma mater for five seasons before heading to Duke in 1980.

Krzyzewski had the Blue Devils in the NCAA Tournament by his third season, and he made the finals in his sixth campaign. He won his first national championship in 1990-91 and successfully defended the throne the next year. The Hall of Famer captured his other NCAA titles in 2000-01, 2009-10, and 2014-15.

Known for his ability to develop talent earlier in his career, Krzyzewski adapted to the evolving landscape of college basketball and became arguably the top recruiter in the country in more recent years. His jewels over the last decade include Jabari ParkerBrandon IngramJayson TatumZion Williamson, and RJ Barrett.

Several NBA teams tried luring Krzyzewski from Duke at various points of his tenure, but he never bit.

Krzyzewski will enter his final season with a career record of 1,170-361 – good for a winning percentage of 76.5.

LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Fargas has stepped down to pursue another opportunity, the university announced on Saturday.

While LSU did not disclose where Fargas was headed next, she has been in negotiations to take over as team president of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, people familiar with those discussions have told The Associated Press.

Fargas’ discussions with the Aces were disclosed to the AP on condition of anonymity because she had not been officially hired.

Fargas has coached 10 years at LSU, going 177-129 with five 20-win seasons and six NCAA Tournament appearances.

LSU also appeared to be on track to qualify for the 2020 NCAA tournament had it not been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She ranks second in LSU history in victories behind only Sue Gunter.

“It was a tremendous honor to represent LSU,” said Fargas, who played for Tennessee under her maiden name, Caldwell and also coached at UCLA. “I leave with many wonderful memories. I will forever be a LSU Tiger.”

LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward called Fargas “a shining example of doing things the right way.”

“She’s helped mold and inspire her team to understand the value of an education, community involvement and using their platform to make a difference,” Woodward said. “Nikki’s legacy at LSU will go far beyond the basketball court.”

While it remains to be seen who’ll replace Fargas, it would not be surprising to see LSU pursue Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, a south Louisiana native and former Louisiana Tech player whose son, Kramer Robertson, played baseball for the Tigers.

Vanderbilt star guard Scotty Pippen Jr., the son of Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, will declare for the 2021 NBA Draft while maintaining his college eligibility, he announced Saturday.

“To my friends, teammates, coaches, and everyone else who has been part of my journey, I appreciate you more than you know, and none of this would be possible without y’all,” he wrote in a statement. “I was blessed to have the opportunity to come to Vanderbilt University, and throughout the highs and lows, the Commodore community has been amazing. I’ll never forget that.”

Pippen led Vanderbilt in multiple categories during a breakout year this past season. He scored a team-high 20.8 points per game across 22 contests as a sophomore, the second-best rate in the SEC. He also ranked first on head coach Jerry Stackhouse’s squad in assists (4.9), steals (1.8), and minutes per game (31.8).

His father played 17 NBA seasons from 1987 to 2004, headlined by his stint with the Chicago Bulls alongside Michael Jordan. The pair claimed six championships in two separate three-peats during the 1990s.

No. 1 Baylor took an early 9-0 lead and never looked back to convincingly knock off No. 1 Gonzaga 86-70 and win the program’s first national championship on Monday.

Jared Butler was spectacular for the Bears, leading the team with 22 points while dishing out a game-high seven assists. He also splashed four 3-pointers, and Baylor outscored Gonzaga 30-15 from beyond the arc.

Baylor’s players can now call themselves champions for the first time in the program’s 114-year history.

With the loss, Gonzaga failed to become the first men’s college basketball team to go undefeated since 1976. Jalen Suggs led the way for the Bulldogs with a game-high 22 points.

Mike Woodson is returning to his alma mater as the Indiana Hoosiers‘ head coach, the team announced Sunday.

Woodson, who has never been a college bench boss, is currently an assistant with the New York Knicks and has previously been the head man for both the Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks.

The Hoosiers had been linked to multiple candidates – including Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and Ohio State bench boss Chris Holtmann – since letting go former coach Archie Miller on March 15.

Woodson, 63, played under legendary Indiana coach Bob Knight from 1976-80 and split 11 NBA seasons across stints with six teams before veering into coaching.

Joining Woodson at Indiana is former Ohio State coach Thad Matta, according to Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star. Matta will reportedly serve as associate athletic director for the men’s basketball program.

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New York Knicks legend and current Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing is currently isolated and undergoing treatment after testing positive for COVID-19, he announced Friday.

“This virus is serious and should not be taken lightly,” the 57-year-old Ewing said in a statement. “I want to encourage everyone to stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

“Now more than ever, I want to thank the health care workers and everyone on the front lines. I’ll be fine and we will all get through this.”

Ewing is the only member of the Hoyas men’s program to test positive for the coronavirus, according to the release.

The 2008 inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has amassed a 49-46 record since returning to coach his alma mater in 2017.

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The NCAA’s board of governors announced Wednesday it supports changes that would allow student-athletes to profit from third-party endorsements and “be compensated for their name, image, and likeness.”

All three collegiate sports divisions are to consider these changes, and each division must approve the alterations before they’re implemented. If approved, new rules are expected to take effect by the start of the 2021-22 academic year.

The board’s decision is the next step in a major change across the college sports landscape. The board of governors voted in October to propose policy changes across the divisions that would let student-athletes receive compensation for endorsements and promotions, and it was reported Tuesday that a study group working on these brand plans would suggest certain policies move forward.

Under the new system, student-athletes would be allowed to identify themselves by sport or school, but the use of conference or school logos and trademarks would not be permitted. The NCAA reiterated that schools would not be allowed to pay athletes and that there would be limitations on potential compensation.

“There’s been an emphasis on maintaining the non-employee status of our student-athletes,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said during a Wednesday conference call, according to Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “Everything about our recommendations made clear that distinction needs to be maintained.”

Emmert also discussed potential legal challenges to the proposed new guidelines from outside entities and said he will engage the U.S. Congress throughout the process as a result.

“As the legal and legislative landscape around college sports continues to evolve, we also see the challenges that are around us to positively affect change,” Emmert said, according to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander. “It’s clear we need Congress’ help in all of this.”

The NCAA has maintained strict rules against endorsements for several decades, and violations can lead to loss of eligibility.

The college basketball coach best known for getting his players to the NBA doesn’t agree with the idea of expanding the pro draft.

“If anybody supports more rounds in the draft, those more rounds are to get kids to go to the G League,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Alex Scarborough. “You do not care about college basketball or you’re trying to ruin college basketball.”

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said earlier in October he thinks the NBA draft will likely be expanded at some point. But Calipari believes the college basketball environment provides a better system than the G League for athletes who aren’t surefire NBA players.

“After two years they don’t perform, what?” Calipari said. “The NBA is going to take care of them and hire them? No. It’s entertainment. You’re done.”

The NBA has limited its draft to two rounds since 1989. Prior to that, the selection featured seven rounds or more, with the vast majority of players chosen never playing in the league.

“If they’re not going to the NBA, if we’re really about young people, we should encourage them to go to college,” Calipari added. “And the reason is their way out is through education. Their way to break through to the American dream is education.”

Calipari has previously voiced support for allowing players to go pro straight from high school. He’s coached 38 players who have been selected in the NBA draft since he took over at Kentucky in 2009.

LeBron James‘ endorsement to secure financial compensation for student-athletes was rewarded Monday when California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 206 into law – on James’ own show, no less – allowing NCAA players in the state to profit off their own image and likeness starting in 2023.

At the Los Angeles Lakers‘ practice later in the day, James, notably wearing a shirt emblazoned with “More than an athlete” on the front, offered a personal insight into why he wants to see student-athletes compensated despite never attending college himself.

“Because I was one of those underprivileged kids. Obviously I was fortunate enough and talented enough to be able to skip college,” he said, courtesy of ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “But for sure I would’ve been one of those kids if I would have went off to Ohio State or I went off to any one of these big-time colleges where pretty much that ’23’ jersey would have got sold all over the place – without my name on the back but everybody would have known the likeness.

“My body would have been on the NCAA basketball game (in) 2004. The Schottenstein Center would have been sold out every single night if I was there … Me and my mom, we didn’t have anything. We wouldn’t have been able to benefit at all from it. The university would have been able to capitalize on everything that I would have been there for that year or two or whatever. I understand what those kids are going through. I feel for those kids who have been going through it for so long, so that’s why it’s personal to me.”

The former first overall pick wasn’t the only NBA star to sound off on the NCAA.

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, who played four seasons at Michigan State from 2008-12, compared the organization to an authoritarian government and commended James’ involvement in the passing of the California bill.

“It does not make any sense,” Green said Monday. “Someone needs to force this dictatorship to change because that’s exactly what it is. It’s no different than any country ran by dictators. The NCAA is a dictatorship.

“I think it’s great for him. I think it was amazing to see that done on ‘Uninterrupted,’ and the platform – that’s exactly what the platform was built about.”

James has been a critic of the NCAA’s long-standing system that revokes athletes’ eligibility if they’re found to have been paid by schools, agents, or other third parties. In February 2018, he criticized the entire organization as “corrupt” in the wake of the FBI’s probe into illicit methods of recruitment and fraud.

He again rebuked the association this past summer after it implemented new criteria for agents, requiring them to own a bachelor’s degree in order to be certified. James’ own agent Rich Paul never received a degree, and James referred to the new provision as “The Rich Paul Rule.”

A week later, the NCAA amended it’s certification requirements, making a bachelor’s degree optional provided the agent is already certified and in good standing with the NBA players’ union.