While everyone in attendance was expecting to see Taylor put on a show, Kansas commit Thomas Robinson was able to steal some of the early spotlight with impressive plays at both ends of the floor. The DC native (he attends Brewster Academy in Mass) is a super athlete with good instincts on the defensive end. Robinson on back to back defensive series pinned a shot off the glass and intercepted a pass, the latter of which led to a thunderous tomahawk at the other end. He is surprisingly quick off the dribble and was able to cross up his defender once for an easy lay in during the second quarter. The future Jayhawk also showed a smooth shooting stroke out to 15 feet.
? While Taylor and Robinson were leading the charge in a scorching 62-point first half for Team Finish, a pair of Baltimore products in Isaiah Armwood and Terrell Vinson combined with Hargrave Military’s Maurice Creek helped Create stay within eight at the half. SLAMonline: Reebok Recap
“I thought I had an all-around game,” said Robinson, who played his junior year at Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro, Md., then moved on to Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., this past school year.
“I knew most of my teammates. I connected with them. It was easy for me to pass and have them finish. The other team’s bigs weren’t as athletic.”
Reebok’s Chris Rivers was impressed with Robinson’s effort, noting he was third in MVP voting.
“He scored on power plays around the basket, mid-range jumpers and putbacks. He looked fantastic,” Rivers stated via e-mail.
Future KU guard Elijah Johnson scored two points while also playing for the winning team.
“He was not feeling well, so he was not on the floor,” Rivers said, noting Johnson sat out the entire second half.
“He (Johnson) said he was kind of dizzy before the game,” Robinson said. “He tried to play. Running up and down, he couldn’t focus. He just was not feeling well. He was disappointed he couldn’t play.”
Robinson roomed with his future KU teammate during days leading up to the Reebok game.
“He’s a cool guy, down to earth, competitive. He also wants to win,” Robinson said of Johnson. LJW
Increasingly, it appears big man prospect Daniel Orton will stick with his commitment to play for Kentucky.
“It looks like Daniel will end up at Kentucky,” his father, Larry Orton, said on Sunday. To seal the deal only requires “just the final touch and OK it,” he said.
Orton, a 6-foot-10 center from Oklahoma City, Okla., is considered a top 20 national prospect in the high school class of 2009. He signed with UK last fall, then wavered on the commitment when the school fired then coach Billy Gillispie in the spring.
New UK Coach John Calipari has spoken to the Orton family several times. Earlier this month, Larry Orton said that something “drastic” would have to happen for his son not to play for Kentucky.
Apparently, nothing drastic has occurred.
The Ortons met with Calipari this weekend while all were in New York for the Jordan Brand Classic all-star game. The family wanted to know again what Calipari thought of Daniel Orton and how the big man might be used in the dribble-drive system.
The elder Orton said he hoped to speak to his son this coming week to finalize a decision. “Just to make sure,” he said. ” ‘Are you sure?’ Go over some things.”
Daniel Orton had been considering Kansas. When asked if the family would listen to Kansas, Larry Orton laughed and said, “Anybody can talk to you. But i’m sure Daniel is going there (Kentucky). I want to be sure.” Lex HL
Xavier Henry hits a jumper on the other end… Just a random note- Henry might be the biggest, most muscular SG I have ever seen at his age. He’s 6-7, 255 pounds easy, with pure muscle and straight “grown ass man” complex. He’s also a lefty, he’s got a nice jumpshot and has a good feel for the game. Safe to say it’s not fair. Where were those genes when I was born?!
...After a few minutes of turnover after turnover, miss after miss (these are high school players, not 100 percent polished as of yet), John Wall checks into the game with two minutes left. Yes, it’s become the John Wall show. He looks pissed after being double teamed his last few possessions in the game. John Wall hits a field goal in the lane after a crossover and a behind the back fake. John Wall hits a midrange jumper off of the same crossover and a behind the back transfer. John Wall makes yet another field goal. This is in the span of say…45 seconds? John Wall can score in straight bunches folks. Wall doesn’t make the next field goal, instead he drops a dime to Wally Judge. Kansas State is going to be hood next year. Jacob Pullen, Wally Judge, Denis Clemente, Ron Anderson, McGruder, Jordan Henriquez… NCAA Tourney bound for sure. At the end, it’s a John Wall mid air 180 behind the back pass to Henry, who drains the 3 at the buzzer. SLAMonline: Jordan Recap
Xavier Henry -- 11 pts, 5-9 fg, 0-1 3p, 2 ast -- Has a terrific 3 point stroke but struggled to show it off here. His lack of foot speed is a little concerning. Finished three dunks on nice dishes from John Wall, and hit a three in the waning seconds of the game. Other that that, he made no impact. Attempted to take his defender off the dribble, but could not turn the corner. Also struggled to contain opponents on defense. Has superior strength for a 2 or a 3, but failed to display lateral speed or a quick first step. Has a beautiful shot with exemplary elbow lift.
...John Wall -- 8 pts, 4-7 fg, 0-1 3p, 1 reb, 8 ast, 3 stl, 2 to -- An absolute freak, his movement is amazingly fluid. Incredible handle, quickness and ability to change directions at full speed. Impossible to keep out of the paint when he gets a head of steam. Put together a string of jaw dropping drives late in the 2nd half. Did appear to get taken out his element early on by Bradley, forcing passes and penetrating into traffic with no plan. Not sure he truly sees the game unfold, yet but the sky's the limit..... A cross between Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo. NBAdraft.net: Jordan Recap
Ford said point guard Byron Eaton might face a tough decision soon as he will likely not be chosen in the June NBA Draft.
If Eaton doesn’t make an NBA roster, Ford said, "he’s going to have a dilemma, whether he goes overseas to make some really good money or he decides to stay over here and playing the (NBA’s Developmental League).”
Ford said it’s such a tough choice because he thinks Eaton could earn a spot in the NBA going the D-League route. "But do you pass up what already seems to be some really good money for him if he wants to go overseas.
"I talked to a lot of NBA people and I told them, you’ve got to know Byron,” Ford said. "If you’re around him every day there’s no question he’s an NBA player. If they have a great need for a point guard that can play 15, 20 minutes a game, I don’t think you can get a better one for the things he can bring.” The Oklahoman*
In Warren, OU has not only a go-to guy, but a player capable of leading the league in scoring. And he relieves the demand on incoming freshmen Tommy Mason-Griffin and Keith "Tiny” Gallon to carry too much of a burden.
The Sooners will be geared toward Warren’s strengths, too, although he downplays the suggestion that it will be "his” team, noting the veteran presence of seniors-to-be Tony Crocker and Ryan Wright.
"It’s going to be OU,” Warren said. "When we’re on ESPN playing OSU next year, it’s not going to say, ‘Willie vs. OSU.’ Maybe the leadership roles are going to change, but as far as whose team it is, it could be Crock’s team, because he’s been here three years and it’ll be his senior year.
"Ryan’s been on a Final Four team at UCLA. With their experience, it could be their team. We’re just going to have to combine everyone’s leadership together to form a good team.” The Oklahoman*
Around College Basketball
The person doing the alleged extorting in the Rick Pitino case is Karen Sypher, multiple sources have confirmed.
She is the wife of Louisville equipment manager Tim Sypher.
They have five children.
Tim has worked for Pitino at Louisville for seven years, according to an official bio. He was also a personal assistant to Pitino for more than three years with the Boston Celtics, meaning he's worked with Pitino in some form for a decade. By pure coincidence, Daniel Acker of Bloomberg News took a picture of a Karen Sypher sources have said is the Karen Sypher last year at The Kentucky Derby.
Click this link to see it.
(She really does look like she's up to something, doesn't she?)
Records show Tim and Karen Sypher are in the process of getting a divorce.
Tim Sypher issued a statement Sunday morning.
"I am devastated by the bizarre allegations that my estranged wife is making against both Coach Pitino and myself," he said. "At this point, my primary concern is for my young daughter and four stepsons, both to the impact of their mother's actions on them, as well as the impact on Coach's family and the University. I love my children, and want to protect them. At the same time, I intend to defend the allegations vigorously and will have no additional comment at this time." Gary Parrish
Karen Sypher recently did a lengthy interview with the Louisville Fox affiliate, WDRB-41, but the station reported Saturday night that it "has decided not to relate details of her claims at this time."
WDRB news anchor Candyce Clifft, who conducted the interview with Karen Sypher, said the station has chosen not to air it because "we couldn't substantiate the claims she was making."
Clifft said the claims against Pitino were "of a personal nature, not related to his recruiting or coaching. That's all I'm at liberty to say."
Clifft said Sypher approached WDRB with the information.
Clifft said she interviewed Sypher for nearly two hours on-camera, in the presence of WDRB's general manager and news director. Afterward, the station had an independent polygraph expert administer a lie-detector test to Sypher -- a test she agreed to do before the interview.
Clifft said that the polygraph test could have any of three results: pass, fail or inconclusive. She said Sypher's test fell into the inconclusive range. Clifft said there were some questions she asked that Sypher did not answer conclusively or convincingly, which heightened the station's concerns about the veracity of her information.
Coupled with the fact that there were no criminal complaints filed or charges levied, the station decided not to air the interview.
"I don't know if we'll ever air all or any of the interview," Clifft said. "Right now there are no plans to do that."
A Louisville source told ESPN.com that Pitino began receiving threatening phone calls in late February from Sypher and possibly other accomplices, and the calls continued throughout the Big East and NCAA tournaments. In late March, Pitino called the FBI and apprised it of the attempt to extort him. ESPN
While as many as six potential lottery picks (Willie Warren, Cole Aldrich, Ed Davis, Greg Monroe, Al-Farouq Aminu and possibly Evan Turner) have already declared their intentions to return to college next season, one player who will not is Davidson’s Stephen Curry. Sources close to the situation tell us that Curry will call a press conference shortly to announce he is putting his name in the draft. From what we understand, it’s very likely he keeps it in too. Curry looks like a pretty solid bet to get drafted somewhere in the 8-15 area, with teams like the Knicks, Nets and Suns currently looking to be the most interested amongst that group. Curry very much wants to graduate from Davidson, and this decision wasn’t an easy one as you can probably tell by how long it took, but at the end of the day, the NBA was too enticing an option considering where his draft stock is at at the moment, and how stacked next year’s draft is already shaping up to be. DraftExpress.com
Mississippi basketball coach Andy Kennedy hopes to have his assault case settled on Monday instead of facing an assault trial in Hamilton County Municipal Court.
Even if the criminal case is settled in a plea bargain, Kennedy is embroiled in lawsuits over his arrest in December on a misdemeanor assault charge. A cab driver claimed that Kennedy punched him and called him a terrorist when the team was in town for a game.
Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone said in a statement last week that Kennedy “is keeping me informed, and he is hopeful there will be a resolution on Monday.” He faces up to six months in jail if convicted.
Lawyers for Kennedy and cab driver Mohamed Moctar Ould Jiddou didn’t return phone messages on Friday to discuss the status of the case. However, a document filed in court last week involving a witness subpoena indicated there would be no trial on Monday.
Kennedy was the interim coach at the University of Cincinnati for one season after Bob Huggins was ousted. He went to Mississippi and returned to town for a game against Louisville on Dec. 18 as part of the SEC/Big East Invitational.
Kennedy was at a downtown bar with friends and Ole Miss staff the night before the game and hailed a cab. Jiddou, a 25-year-old native of northwest Africa, said Kennedy and four others tried to get into his cab, which was more than it could legally carry.
The cab driver said he told Kennedy he couldn’t take the entire party, and the coach hit him in the face, calling him “bin Laden, Saddam Hussein.” Police said the left side of Jiddou’s face was swollen afterward.
Kennedy was released from jail in time to coach the game. Following a 77-68 loss to Louisville, Kennedy referred to the “heinous accusations” made by the cab driver.
The case escalated when Kennedy sued Jiddou for alleged defamation, along with a valet who said he witnessed the altercation. Jiddou and the valet countersued. In those civil cases, the lawyers are wrangling over whether depositions should be delayed until the criminal case is settled. AP