BOZICH | Pitino rebounds; Avare delivers; Tubby builds: 7 Colleg - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Pitino rebounds; Avare delivers; Tubby builds: 7 College Basketball Notes

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After struggling last season, Richard Pitino has Minnesota on the right track this season. (Associated Press photo.) After struggling last season, Richard Pitino has Minnesota on the right track this season. (Associated Press photo.)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I don't have any college football bowl scouting report breakdowns postmarked from Winston-Salem, but I do have Seven College Basketball Notes You Can't Live Without.

Let's go.

1. Don't Sleep on Richard Pitino

The narrative on Richard Pitino in Minnesota before the season had realtors wondering if somebody was going to get a nice listing.

After winning the NIT and 25 games during his first season, Pitino coached the Gophers to 18-15 and 8-23 records the last two winters. There were off the court issues. The athletic director who hired Pitino was fired. Nearly every story written about Pitino included a mention of his hefty buyout.

I'm not nominating Pitino for the Final Four, but the Gophers are showing up in some early NCAA Tournament projections. He's in the discussion for Comeback Coach of the Year -- if there is a Comeback Coach of the Year award.

Minnesota moved to 11-1 with a 76-66 victory against LIU-Brooklyn. It was the Gophers' eighth victory by 10 points or more.

Yes, their strength of schedule ranks only 224th in the Ken Pomeroy power numbers. They have three wins over Top 100 opponents and are projected to finish 9-9 in the Big Ten and 21-10 overall. He's got a talented freshman forward -- Amir Coffey, a Twin Cities kid he convinced to stay home and play at the program where Coffey's father, Richard, once starred.

Selection Sunday should be interesting in Minneapolis.

2. Cincinnati vs. Louisville: A Texas Southern comparison

Rick Pitino was not pleased with his team's rebounding after the Cardinals dispatched Texas Southern, 102-71, Saturday

Odds are Pitino will be less pleased after he sees the numbers from Texas Southern's follow-up game, a 96-58 loss at Cincinnati Tuesday.

Remember that Texas Southern rebounded 30 of its 48 missed field goal attempts at Louisville Saturday.

Coach Mike Davis's team also missed 48 shots against UC. Texas Southern rebounded 14 of the misses against the Bearcats.

That translates to a 62.5 offensive rebounding percentage against the Cards to 29.2 against the Bearcats.

After grabbing 26 boards, 15 on the offensive glass against Louisville, Derrick Griffin settled for eight, three on the offensive end at Cincinnati.

Two words: Block out.

3. Dillon Avare Update

Dillon Avare departed the University of Louisville basketball program last season, a walk-on who earned his degree to qualify as a graduate transfer.

While some thought Avare planned to leave U of L for an Ivy League School after one season, Avare enjoyed his time at Louisville so much that he stayed three seasons before heading to EKU. The program is only a three-point shot from where Avare grew up in Lexington.

The Colonels visit Louisville Saturday. Will Avare earn some clock?

Yes, quite a bit.

Avare has played in all 11 games, starting two for the Colonels, who have won six of 11. Avare has averaged nearly 24 minutes a game and you don't have to be Dean Smith to file a scouting report on Avare's role:

He is a three-point specialist. Avare has launched 61 shots, 58 from distance. He's made nearly 40 percent of his attempts (23) while averaging 6.8 points and one rebound for coach Dan McHale's team.

Don't leave him open in the corner.

4. Crossroads Classic

Two major college basketball doubleheaders will be played Saturday but only one will include four Top 25 teams.

It will not be the double header played in Las Vegas, although that one features the best game: Kentucky, ranked sixth, against No. 7 North Carolina. The other game matches No. 2 UCLA against unranked Ohio State.

Four ranked teams will gather at Bankers' Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis: Game One matches Notre Dame (No. 21) vs. Purdue (15) followed by Butler (18) vs Indiana (9).

Notre Dame, remember, is Louisville's first road test in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Irish guard Steve Vasturia is having a dynamite season, averaging better than 17 points while making 44 percent of his shots from distance.

5. S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C

This has not been a great week for SEC basketball.

Not with Mississippi State losing a home game to East Tennessee State Wednesday night on a tip-in by Indiana transfer Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Undefeated South Carolina lost its first game to Kevin Willard's Seton Hall Pirates, 67-64.

Bruce Pearl and Auburn stumbled against the worst team from the ACC — Boston College, 72-71.

Louisiana State rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to beat mighty North Carolina Central.

Add a two-game losing streak by Florida,Vanderbilt's stumble against Middle Tennessee last week and Missouri actually losing to North Carolina Central last month and it's no surprise that Pomeroy has the SEC ranked the sixth best conference in the nation.

6. Can Tubby Pick Six?

If Tubby Smith is going to break his tie with Lon Kruger of Oklahoma as the coach who has taken the most programs to the NCAA Tournament, Smith has some work to do to make Memphis No. 6 on his resume.

The Tigers are 7-3 but ranked 91st in Ken Pomeroy's power formula after an 82-79 home loss to Monmouth Tuesday. Providence and Ole Miss have also beaten the Tigers, whose best wins have come against Iowa and UAB.

Smith and Kruger can discuss their achievements Saturday when the Tigers and Sooners play in Norman.

Tubby, for the record, made the tournament at Tulsa, Georgia, UK, Minnesota and Texas Tech. For Kruger, the schools are Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and Oklahoma.

7. Kelan Martin Update

Butler has lost only one of its first 10 games this season, and former Ballard star Kelan Martin is the guy you'd better list at the top of the game plan (as long as you make sure your radio team doesn't leak it).

Martin, a junior forward, ranks eighth in the Big East in scoring at 17.7 points per game. He's an 80 percent free throw shooter who is making more than 2 three-point field goals per game.

"He's just a very solid all-around scorer," one college basketball coach said. "He can get to the rim, make the mid-range shot and hit his threes. He's become a very solid player."

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