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January 27, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

The Morning Dish – January 27th

Pitino in Pain: Louisville coach Rick Pitino is tough, but the pain has taken its toll. Pitino will take an indefinite leave of absence to tend to a discomfort that he describes as a “urological related” pain. The Cardinals coach said he first felt the pain at a golf outing last year, but doctors treated that as a muscle tear. The ache, however, has not gone away, and Pitino has been enduring it for four to five months. Thankfully, doctors have ruled out prostate cancer, but more medical tests need to be conducted. Assistant coach Kevin Willard, who has his own DUI issues, will coach the team in the interim.

Say You’re Sorry…You Nitwit!: St. Joe’s coach Phil Martelli apologized yesterday for calling a St. Bonaventure fan a nitwit and a moron during a game on Saturday. (He said he should have called her a loser and a fool. Kidding. Really. Writer’s embellishment.) Bonnie fan Mary Palmer very vocally questioned Martelli as to why his Hawks were pressing her beloved squad when St. Joe’s had a 25-point lead. Martelli responded, “Shut up, you nitwit!” And if that weren’t enough, he added “You should be embarrassed by your own team, you moron.” Oh well. St. Joe’s won the game 114-63 and improved to 17-0.

You Too, Calhoun!: Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun also had to say the S-word – Sorry – to a newspaper columnist who was the victim of the coach’s tirade on Saturday. Apparently when New Haven Register reporter Dave Solomon asked Calhoun about the play of Providence’s Ryan Gomes, the UConn coach fired off a few f-bombs at the poor guy. Solomon asked why Calhoun didn’t recruit Connecticut native Gomes, who had 26 points, 12 boards in the Friar’s upset of the Huskies. The apology came during a reporter’s conference call yesterday. Solomon said the mea culpa was “appreciated but not necessary.”

Mouton The Heart Of Texas: Texas handed Texas Tech its first Big 12 loss of the year and won its seventh straight game in the process. Down 55-52, Brandon Mouton sank one of his two threes to push the game into the extra session, where Ronald Ivey hit two game-winning free throws to give the Longhorns a 62-61 win. Mouton only had 8 points on the night and turned the ball over five times, but he hit when it counted. Kenton Paulino led Texas with 12 – the only Longhorn to hit for double figures. Jarrius Jackson led the Red Raiders with 17. With Texas Tech losing, Kansas is now the only unbeaten Big 12 team, at 4-0.

Shorthanded? Surehanded!: After shocking UConn this weekend, Providence showed the college hoops community that they were for real. Who’s gonna argue? The Friars didn’t let up last night either, besting Georgetown, 65-50, at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Donnie McGrath’s 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting led three other Friars in double figures. Ryan Gomes had 8 points, 10 boards. The Hoyas were led by Gerald Riley’s 22. Providence only played 7 players in the win.

Tonight’s Menu:

• The abominable snowstorm that’s sweeping through the Northeast shouldn’t affect these games that involve Hoopville Top 25 teams. 15-3 Georgia Tech is home for 8-9 Clemson, while in the Hoosier state, it’s Indiana hosting 14-4 Purdue. And Florida heads to rainy Alabama, where the Tide is 9-0 at home.

• Memphis also does their best work at home. The Tigers put their 9-0 home mark on the line against South Florida.

As an added bonus, Hoopville Big Ten writer Alan Rubenstein previews tonight’s Indiana vs. Purdue matchup: Following 2-0 weeks for both teams during the week of January 20th, Indiana and Purdue will match-up in Bloomington with first place on the line. The game will be the first time since 1988-89 that the two have met with first place in the Big Ten on the line. Purdue enters the game with a big overtime win over Michigan State on national T.V. The Hoosiers have ridden a red hot Bracey Wright during a four game winning streak. The sophomore captured the Big Ten Player of the Week award during the Big Ten’s third week of conference action.

The teams have contrasting styles. IU is a perimeter oriented team that looks to Wright and then A.J. Moye and Marshall Strickland to provide their points. Sean Kline and George Leach provide the dirty work on the interior. Leach has supplied IU with the inside presence they were sorely lacking while he missed nine games with an injury.

Purdue is the opposite of Indiana. They want to control tempo, pound the ball inside and force their opponents into ugly shots. The Boilermakers have a deeper bench and a more experienced team. The nationally televised game might give Indiana the advantage. The Hoosiers have been in front of the bright lights more often than the Boilers this season. Purdue did make a statement earlier in the season when they brought home the Gold from the Great Alaska Shootout after defeating Duke.

Purdue is a much more balanced team. The Hoosiers will rely on Wright and Strickland to provide a majority of their points. Gene Keady has received primary performances from a few players this season. Senior Guard Kenneth Lowe has been the Black and Gold’s leader on both ends of the court and should receive the principal responsibility of guarding Wright.

Purdue’s Brandon McKnight and Austin Parkinson have improved their play during the Big Ten season. Keady has given Parkinson more time at the point, allowing Mc Knight to look more for his offense and not have to worry about setting up his teammates as much.

Indiana has played above expectations lately after looking deflated at times during the non-conference part of the schedule. Leach has been a big boost to the Hoosiers during his return. Their resurgence and his return are no coincidence.

Gene Keady rates a big edge over counterpart Mike Davis in big games. Other than the 2002 Final Four run, Davis has melted down a few times in rivalry games (anyone remember 2002 versus Kentucky?).

The game will come down to who is able to dictate tempo and Purdue’s ability to take the Hoosier crowd out of the game. The Boilermakers’ distinct size advantage and ability to play more physical should be the deciding factor. Players to watch for Purdue are Mc Knight and Brett Buscher. Donald Perry’s and A.J. Moye quickness will cause match-up problems for Purdue and bear watching from the IU perspective.

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