WICHITA – The American Athletic Conference voted unanimously on Friday to add Wichita State to the league starting with the 2017-18 season.
Wichita State announced it accepted the AAC’s invitation and will leave the Missouri Valley Conference. The Shockers have been members of the MVC since 1945.
Wichita State will join the AAC in all its sports — the school does not have a football program — giving the AAC both a 12-team football and basketball league. The AAC has 11 all-sports members (Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, South Florida, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa and UCF) and Navy is a football-only member.
The Shockers were targeted for the AAC because of their basketball success. Wichita State has been to the NCAA Tournament six consecutive years, winning at least one game in the past five tournaments and reaching the 2013 Final Four.
“We are pleased and proud to welcome Wichita State to The American,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “This is a university with a strong athletic and academic heritage which shares our conference’s commitment to excellence, and we look forward to having them as a member. The university has an exceptionally strong tradition of success in men’s basketball and baseball. The addition of Wichita State in basketball and Olympic sports extends our conference’s national footprint, enhances our national profile and strengthens our position as a leader in intercollegiate athletics.”
Wichita State returns most of its key players from coach Gregg Marshall’s team that went 31-5 this past season. The Shockers lost to Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last month.
“Wichita State is just a tremendous addition to our league,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “Coach Marshall’s program is all about winning championships. Year in and year out, they are nationally ranked and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament. I know next season, they are already being projected as a top 10 team. In men’s basketball, the American Conference just went up a level.
GLENDALE — (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) — The redemption tour is complete.
North Carolina talked about redemption all season, spurred by the painful memory of losing last year’s national title game on Villanova’s last-second 3-pointer.
The Tar Heels found themselves back in a similar situation Monday night.
Joel Berry II
This time, they made sure a potential heartbreaker did not even get to the rim.
The Tar Heels won their sixth national title, beating Gonzaga 71-65 in the NCAA Tournament final at University of Phoenix Stadium, with the key play being a late-game block by center Kennedy Meeks. His rejection of a shot by a driving Nigel Williams-Goss led to a decisive fastbreak dunk by Justin Jackson with 12 seconds left.
“This is what we worked for,” said North Carolina point guard Joel Berry II, selected the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. “The ups and downs that we had, it’s all worth it. I can’t even describe my feeling right now, but I’m just glad I was able to do something with this team just because of our personality and what we went through.
“I think we just deserved it.”
Coach Roy Williams earned his third national title at North Carolina, the school’s first since 2009.
This year’s title game was a cold-shooting, foul-filled affair, but what the game lacked in aesthetics, it made up for in drama, with the game on the line in the final minute.
Forward Isaiah Hicks made a hanging jumper in the lane with 26 seconds left for a 68-65 North Carolina lead before Williams-Goss, who had scored eight consecutive points for Gonzaga, was blocked on the other end. Williams-Goss sustained an ankle injury about a minute earlier, and coach Mark Few suggested the guard didn’t have his usual lift off the floor.
Berry made one free throw with seven seconds left to finish with a game-high 22 points.
With 44 total fouls — 27 in the second half — the referees were a key storyline. Moreover, a held-ball situation with 45 seconds left that went to North Carolina came after Meeks apparently touched the ball with his other hand out of bounds.
Few said he didn’t have an angle on that play to suggest a replay review, and neither did he criticize the game officials.
“First of all, I mean, those were three of the best officials in the entire country — NBA, college or anything,” Few said. “I thought they did a great job. I mean, these are two heavyweight teams going at it, inside, playing really, really physical basketball. You still have to officiate the game of basketball, and that’s what they did.
“I had no issue whatsoever. I thought they did a fabulous job. And I’m on the losing end.”
Gonzaga (37-2) missed nine consecutive shots in the second half and went 8:27 without a basket, but North Carolina (33-7) didn’t have the offense to deliver a decisive run as it remained a one-possession game for almost all of the second half in a battle of No. 1 seeds.
All of the game’s key big men were in some sort of foul trouble in the second half.
Meeks picked up his fourth with 9:42 to go. Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski drew his fourth foul with 8:02 to go. The Bulldogs’ Zach Collins — the hero of a Final Four win over South Carolina — fouled out with 5:03 to go after playing only 14 minutes. He still finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
Jackson, the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, scored 16 points but missed all nine of his 3-point attempts.
“It was an ugly game,” Williams said. “I don’t think either team played well offensively. I don’t think either team got in a real good flow, and that fouls were part of it.”
Williams-Goss scored 15 points but was just 5 of 17 from the field. He added nine rebounds and six assists. Karnowski was stymied by Meeks and others, shooting 1 of 8 from the field for nine points. Guard Justin Perkins scored 13 — all in the first half.
North Carolina shot 35.6 percent. Gonzaga shot 33.9 percent. However, the Tar Heels had just enough and made a couple more plays than Gonzaga, which was playing in its first national championship game.
“Talking to (Syracuse) coach (Jim) Boeheim earlier in the week, he told me it will crush you if you don’t win it,” Few said. “And I guess I didn’t understand it, but the cagey old veteran is right. Man, it crushes you.”
NOTES: North Carolina appeared in its 11th national championship game, with its previous titles coming in 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009. … The final featured a matchup of the two active coaches with the best winning percentages — Gonzaga’s Mark Few (81.9 percent) and North Carolina’s Roy Williams (79.0 percent). … Williams coached in his 100th NCAA Tournament game; he is 76-24. … For the fifth consecutive season, the title game was decided by six points or fewer. … Gonzaga is 0-8 against No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. … The 44 fouls were the most in a title game since 2009, when North Carolina and Michigan State combined for 50
GLENDALE – (Staff Report from Official News Release) Kansas senior guard Frank Mason III claimed another national award, when he was named the winner of the Oscar Robertson Trophy. The honor, presented by the United States Basketball Writers Association, comes one day after Mason was named the Associated Press Player of the Year.
Mason was honored to be in the company of Robertson, the University of Cincinnati legend who was king of the triple-doubles long before current NBA stars Russell Westbrook and James Harden began regularly racking them up.
“First, I want to thank Oscar,” Mason said at the ceremony in Glendale, Ariz., site of the Final Four. “I saw a few highlights of yours. You’re really good. You’re a legend.”
Mason led the Jayhawks with averages of 20.9 points and 5.2 assists this season. Kansas reached the Elite Eight before losing to Oregon.
Robertson has dissected Mason’s game and likes what he sees.
“I think you’re only going to get better,” Robertson told Mason. “Because as you get older, you’ll get more mature. And you’re going to see your basketball game come to you like you’re getting up out of the bed in the morning. And that’s a wonderful thing.
“I think it’s great that you’re able to win this award. I think you’ve had a great season. Saw you play in several basketball games, and I think you’re a hell of a basketball player.”
The praise from the Hall of Famer meant a lot to Mason.
“It means a lot to hear great things come out of your mouth about me,” Mason told Robertson. “And it’s just motivating me for the future.”
Mason is just the second Kansas player to win multiple National Player of the Year awards in the same season.
PHOENIX – (Staff Report from Official News Release) – At a news conference during the off-day of the NCAA Final Four event, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced 11 members of the Class of 2017 to be honored September 7-9, 2017 during this year’s Enshrinement festivities in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Class Announcement was made in Glendale, Arizona the site of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Final Four, and televised live on ESPN2.
This year’s class includes the all-time winningest boys high school coach Robert Hughes, WNBA icon and ESPN Analyst Rebecca Lobo, two-time NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady, three-time Consensus National College Coach of the Year from Notre Dame Muffet McGraw, and two-time AP College Coach of the Year Bill Self.
Distinguished committees focused on preserving all areas from the game also selected six directly elected members. They include George McGinnis from the Veterans Committee, Nick Galis from the International Committee, Zack Clayton from the Early African American Pioneers Committee, and Mannie Jackson, Tom Jernstedt and Jerry Krause from the Contributor Committee.
“In the Class of 2017, we are recognizing eleven outstanding members of the basketball community who have each uniquely impacted the basketball landscape as we know it today,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “As coaches, players, contributors and role models, we thank them for their contributions to the sport and look forward to honoring them during Enshrinement this September.”
To be elected, North American and Women’s Committee finalists must receive 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Direct elect committees are incorporated into the election process to maintain a strong focus on keeping history on the forefront of the voting procedures and to preserve a balance between two eras of basketball.
“To be elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is an incredible achievement,” said Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Board. “The Class of 2017 has shown unwavering perseverance and dedication to the game and we are very pleased to honor them in Springfield this fall.”
The Class of 2017 will be enshrined on Friday, September 8 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball and home of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
THE NAISMITH MEMORIAL BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017:
North American Committee:
ROBERT HUGHES [Coach] – Hughes coached high school basketball in Texas for 47 years and ranks first on the all-time wins list for boys’ high school coaches. He has compiled an overall high school coaching record of 1,333-247 (.844) and led his teams to 35 district championships and five state championships. He served as Head coach of the McDonald’s All-America Game West team (2001). Hughes was named the NHSCA National High School Coach of the Year (2003) and recipient of the Morgan Wootten Lifetime Achievement Award (2010). He has been inducted into the Texas Basketball Hall of Fame (1993) and High School Basketball Hall of Fame (2003).
TRACY MCGRADY [Player] – McGrady is a seven-time NBA All-Star (2001-2007) and a two-time NBA Scoring Champion (2003, 2004). After being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2001, he was named to the All-NBA First Team in 2002 and 2003. In McGrady’s 15 NBA seasons, he averaged 19.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists per game and set an Orlando Magic franchise record for most points in a single game (62). He is regarded as one of the first impact players to make the jump from high school to the NBA. Internationally, he earned a FIBA America’s Championship Gold Medal in 2003 and was named a Chinese Basketball Association All-Star in 2013. As a prep star at Mount Zion Christian Academy in Durham, North Carolina, McGrady was selected as a McDonald’s All-American and the USA Today High School Player of the Year (1997).
BILL SELF [Coach] – Self is a two-time AP College Coach of the Year (2009, 2016) and seven-time Conference Coach of the Year (WAC: 2000; Big 12: 2006, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017). He was named the Naismith Coach of the Year in 2012 and NABC Coach of the Year and USA Today National Coach of the Year in 2016. Self has compiled an overall coaching record of 623-93 (.763) during his time as the head coach of Oral Roberts (1993-1997), Tulsa (1997-2000), Illinois (2000-2003) and Kansas (2003-present). He is one of six coaches in NCAA history to lead three different teams to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight and he guided Tulsa and Kansas to nine 30-win seasons. Self has led Kansas to 13 consecutive Big 12 regular season championships (2005-2016) and 14 straight NCAA tournament appearances, including an NCAA National Championship in 2008. He received the Mannie Jackson Basketball’s Human Spirit Award in 2015.
REBECCA LOBO [Contributor] – Lobo, a native of Southwick, Massachusetts, was a member of the undefeated NCAA National Champion Connecticut Huskies (1995). That same year, she earned NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player, AP Female Athlete of the Year, the Wade Trophy, the Naismith Award, WBCA National Player of the Year and USBWA National Player of the Year. In 1994 and 1995, she was named Kodak First Team All-America, BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year, and GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team. Lobo earned an Olympic gold medal in Atlanta in 1996 and was an iconic player assigned to the New York Liberty when the WNBA formed in 1997. After six years in the WNBA, Lobo became an ESPN analyst for women’s college basketball and the WNBA.
MUFFET MCGRAW [Coach] – McGraw is the only male or female three-time Consensus National College Coach of the Year (2001, 2013, 2014) earning the Naismith Coach of the Year, Associated Press College Basketball Coach of the Year, WBCA National Coach of the Year and USBWA National Coach of the Year. She is also a seven-time Conference Coach of the Year with the East Coast Conference, North Star Conference, Midwestern Collegiate Conference, BIG EAST and Atlantic Coast Conference (1983,1988, 1991, 2001, 2013, 2014 2016). As the coach of Notre Dame women’s basketball since 1987, she has led her team to 23 trips to the NCAA Tournament, including 13 NCAA Sweet Sixteens, seven NCAA Elite Eights and seven NCAA Final Fours (1997, 2001, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) with one National Championship in 2001. McGraw is one of four coaches in NCAA Division I history with 800 wins, seven Final Fours and five NCAA title games.
NAISMITH MEMORIAL BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME DIRECT ELECT MEMBERS:
Contributor Direct Election Committee:
MANNIE JACKSON [Contributor] – A former star for the Harlem Globetrotters (1960-1966), Jackson saved the Globetrotters from near extinction in 1993 when he purchased the team and became CEO (1993-2007). In doing so, he became the first African-American owner of a major international sports and entertainment organization. He revived the organization and led the team to record attendance and revenue growth. Jackson served as Chairman of the Board for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (2007-2009) and is the namesake of the Mannie Jackson Basketball’s Human Spirit Award. His biography, Boxcar to Boardrooms, details his rise from humble beginnings to professional athlete and successful businessman.
TOM JERNSTEDT [Contributor] – Tom Jernstedt is a basketball administrator credited with guiding the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship to the elite sporting event it is today. In 38 consecutive years with the NCAA (1972-2010), he held numerous leadership roles including Executive Vice President, while being a liaison to committees focused on officiating and television negotiations, among others. With USA Basketball, he served as President (2001-2004) and Vice President (1997-2000). As one of the most influential figures in college basketball and college sports, he received the Basketball Hall of Fame’s John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award (2001) and USA Basketball’s Edward S. Steitz Award (2009). Jernstedt was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
JERRY KRAUSE [Contributor] – Jerry Krause was a professional basketball scout for several NBA teams, most notably recognized as the General Manager and Executive Vice President of the Chicago Bulls (1985-2003). Under his leadership, the Bulls won six world championships and became one of the most iconic teams in the history of sports. Krause was twice named NBA Executive of the Year (1988, 1996) and several members of the teams he assembled have been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman). Krause was the only person in history to be an executive in the NBA and Major League Baseball.
Early African American Pioneers Committee:
ZACK CLAYTON [Player] – Zack Clayton, recognized as one of the all-time great basketball players of the Black Fives Era, played for several all-black teams including his hometown Philadelphia Panthers, the Chicago Crusaders, and the renowned Harlem Globetrotters and New York Rens. He won two World Professional Basketball Tournament championships, the first in 1939 with the Rens and the second in 1953 with the Washington Bears. An enshrine of the Philadelphia Basketball Hall of Fame (1989), Clayton played on some of the era’s greatest teams and was a featured star. He earned All-Tournament honors in 1939 and 1943 for his performances in the World Pro Tournament.
NICK GALIS [Player] – Nick Galis is widely considered the greatest basketball player in Greek history, in addition to being voted Greece’s best all-around athlete in 1986 and 1987. He led ARIS of Thessaloniki to seven straight Greek League championships and eight overall (1983, 1985-91). Galis won a European Championship gold medal and European Championships MVP in 1987, while also taking home silver in 1989. He led the Greece A-1 League in scoring a record 12 straight seasons, averaging 33.4 points per game in his career. Galis was named one of FIBA’s 50 Greatest Players in 1991, and is a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame (2007). He played collegiately at Seton Hall and was inducted into the Seton Hall Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991.
GEORGE MCGINNIS [Player] – George McGinnis was a six-time All-Star during his professional career in both the ABA (1971-1975) and the NBA (1975-1982). He averaged 25.2 points and 12.9 rebounds per game in the ABA, winning two ABA championships with the Indiana Pacers (1972, 1973) and co-MVP honors with Hall of Famer Julius Erving (1975). He has since been named to the 30-man ABA All-Time Team. In the NBA, McGinnis averaged 17.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game and earned All-NBA First Team in 1976. A native of Indianapolis, McGinnis was a powerful force at the amateur level as well, leading George Washington High School to an undefeated season and state championship in 1969, then going on to University of Indiana where he earned All-American distinction while averaging 29.9 points per game.
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
Gonzaga 77, South Carolina 73
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
DALLAS – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – Mississippi State brought Connecticut and its 111-game winning streak crashing down.
Guard Morgan William hit a 10-foot jumper at the buzzer and the Bulldogs grasped a 66-64 victory in the NCAA Tournament semifinals that shocked the college basketball nation on Friday night at the American Airlines Center.
“I got enough space, I jumped up and made the shot,” William said. “I was in shock. I’m still in shock. I’m over here like, ‘Man, I just won the game.'”
The Bulldogs led 64-62 before a flagrant foul call on Mississippi State guard Dominique Dillingham allowed Connecticut’s Katie Lou Samuelson to tie the game at the free-throw line with 26.6 seconds remaining in the extra period.
But the Huskies couldn’t score on the ensuing possession as Mississippi State created a turnover to set up William’s decisive shot.
Guard Victoria Vivians scored 19 points to lead Mississippi State. William finished with 13, forward Breanna Richardson added 12 and forward Teaira McCowan pitched in 10.
Forward Gabby Williams scored 21 to lead the Huskies and Samuelson finished with 15.
Connecticut (36-1), in its 10th straight Final Four, will not get a chance to add to its streak of four consecutive national championships. But Huskies coach Geno Auriemma said he wasn’t surprised by the result.
“We’re playing way above our years and way above our experience level,” Auriemma said. “Tonight, it caught up to us. When we really needed to be a little more mature with what we’re doing, we didn’t have it. A big part of that was because of what they were doing.”
Mississippi State (34-4) advances to play South Carolina in an All-Southeastern Conference title game on Sunday evening back at the American Airlines Center. The Bulldogs finished one game behind South Carolina in the SEC standings.
Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer and the Bulldogs players said they believed they could win the game even before taking a big lead in the first half.
“Obviously, I’m extremely proud of my group,” Shaefer said. “What an unbelievable, gutsy performance that no one in the country probably thought could happen. But we knew it could happen.”
Vivians drove baseline and spun to get an open look that she converted to give Mississippi State a 56-52 lead with 3:57 remaining in the fourth quarter, forcing Auriemma to call timeout.
The Huskies scored seven straight points, but Vivians hit a 3-pointer that gave Mississippi State a 60-59 lead with 1:14 remaining.
UConn’s Napheesa Collier hit a free throw to tie it at 60 with 27 seconds left and Williams blocked William’s last-second attempt to win the game in regulation.
Earlier, Mississippi State had gone ahead by 10 when Richardson hit a jumper 20 seconds into the second half.
But Connecticut closed the gap quickly.
The Huskies went on a 12-1 run and took their first lead of the game when Collier hit a jumper in the lane, putting Connecticut in front 40-39 with 6:14 to go in the third quarter.
“I knew we were in good shape,” Auriemma said. “We knew it was going to be only a matter of five, six minutes before we got it back. But (Mississippi State was) just better.”
A year ago, Mississippi State fell behind the Huskies by 28 points after the first quarter when Connecticut handed the Bulldogs a 60-point loss in the Sweet 16.
Mississippi State flipped the script on Connecticut this time around as the Bulldogs claimed a 16-point lead early in the second quarter.
“We had our pride stepped on last year,” Schaefer said. “Because of that, these three right here (Vivians, Richardson and William at the postgame press conference) and the rest of their teammates, they’ve kind of been on a little bit of a mission.”
Vivians, who led Mississippi State with 12 points in the first half, made a layup to put the Bulldogs ahead 29-13 with 7:36 left until halftime.
But Connecticut fired back at that point.
Guard Saniya Chong sparked the Huskies by scoring seven during a 12-0 run to close the gap. Chong capped the surge with a 3-pointer that cut Mississippi State’s lead to 29-25 with 3:44 left in the second quarter.
Mississippi State still took an eight-point lead to halftime after outrebounding the Huskies 21-11 in the first 20 minutes.
The Bulldogs scored 12 second-chance points in the first half while holding Connecticut to a single offensive rebound in the same period.
NOTES: By making its 18th Final Four appearance, UConn is now one Final Four berth away from tying Tennessee’s record 19 Final Fours. … Huskies coach Geno Auriemma passed former Tennessee coach Pat Summit for the most all-time victories in the NCAA Tournament when UConn defeated Oregon in the Elite Eight. Auriemma now has 113 NCAA Tournament wins. … By defeating Baylor in the Oklahoma City Region final, the Bulldogs upped their program single-season wins record to 33. Mississippi State has set a record for victories in each of the last three seasons