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News Nuggets, 04.01.05
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Gamecocks capture NIT title in thrilling finish


03.31.05: Preparations in place for closed ECU scrimmage ... Texas legislature maneuvers to reign in BCS ... NIT master Odom leads USC into title game ...  More...
03.30.05: Night-time football on the menu for Pirate fans ... Gamecocks top Terps to reach NIT title game ... Hawks halt Memphis in NIT semifinal battle ... More...
03.29.05: East Carolina southpaw takes Conference USA honor ... Beale Street helps Memphis star cure the blues ... More...
03.28.05: McCants helps Heels seal the deal over Badgers ... Scintillating finishes supercharge TV ratings ... More...
03.27.05: Cards, Illini mount monumental rallies to reach Final Four ... Terrapins dump TCU to win Garden date with South Carolina ... Sunday preview: North Carolina vs. Wisconsin ... More...
03.26.05: Duke, State bite the dust; Heels survive ... Louisville, WVU rumble for spot in Final Four ... Fires plague Morgantown after tourney win ... Players nabbed for passing fake currency ... More...
03.25.05: Holland named to powerful USA Basketball panel ... ECU fans to have rooting interest in NIT semis ... Triangle's Sweet 16 teams converge at RDU ... Another DUI charge embarrasses Cincinnati ... More...
03.24.05: NIT: Memphis whips Vandy to advance to Garden ... NIT: Maryland overcomes big Davidson lead ... Big East hops on replay bandwagon ... More...
03.23.05: NIT win over UNLV extends Stokes' ties to USC ... Davidson-Maryland NIT matchup set for TV ... Activists file suit over 'Chief Illiniwek' ... More...
03.22.05: Break over for East Carolina football team ... Frogs in NIT quarterfinals after overtime win ... CBS reaping ratings bonanza from tourney ... Baseball America & Collegiate Baseball Polls ... More...
03.21.05: Spurrier straps on visor, gets down to business ... NCAA Tourney Sweet 16 pairings & schedule ... Tournament's TV ratings up over 2004 ... More...
03.20.05: Kentucky proves it still has Bearcats' number ... Memphis zaps Hokies, starts thinking NIT title ... Davidson tames Bears, turns focus to Terps ... Preview: (4) Louisville vs. (5) Georgia Tech ... More...
03.19.05: Hodge leads Wolfpack to comeback win over 49ers ... Louisville escapes upset bid by Ragin' Cajuns ... Preview: (7) Cincinnati vs. (2) Kentucky ... Preview: (11) UAB vs. (3) Arizona ... More...

NEW YORK — Tarence Kinsey was a timeout away from being a spectator instead of the hero.

Known more for defense, Kinsey hit a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left to lift South Carolina to a 60-57 victory over Saint Joseph's Thursday night in the NIT championship game.

After Pat Carroll tied it with a 3 for Saint Joseph's at the end of a miserable night for the sharpshooter, Kinsey came up the floor and nailed the winning jumper from the right elbow.

``I figured if I miss we're in OT,'' Kinsey said. ``I didn't want to pass because of the time so I said, 'Why not take the shot?'''

He was only in the game to guard Carroll, who went 5-for-19 and 2-of-13 from 3-point range. Coach Dave Odom was about to call timeout and get his shooter, Josh Gonner, back in the game.

But Odom didn't pull the trigger.

``I didn't want their defense to set for the last play. So I swallowed my tongue, or whatever,'' Odom said. ``The irony is, had I called a timeout, I would have put Josh in and taken Tarence out — no question.''

The win not only netted the NIT championship trophy for the Gamecocks, it also sent one of Odom's top assistants, Ricky Stokes, off to his new job as a winner. Stokes has been named East Carolina's new head coach.

South Carolina was only the second team in the NIT to get to 60 points against the Hawks, who controlled the tempo with ball control and good defense.

``I felt if we could hit 60 we would win,'' Odom said. ``I didn't know it would come on the last shot.''

Kinsey let his winning shot go just 6 seconds after Carroll tied it for the Hawks (24-12). But that was one of the few shots Carroll, the Atlantic 10 co-player of the year, could get to go down.

The Hawks started 3-6 in the follow-up season to their run to the NCAA round of eight in 2004. But they turned it around and went 21-6 after Jan. 1.

Carroll's stellar career ended with a 15-point performance, after averaging 20.6 in the Hawks' first five NIT games.

``You're going to have good nights and bad nights as a basketball player. Tonight was definitely a bad night,'' Carroll said. ``The only thing I wanted to do as a player was have no regrets.

``I am proud of the team because everybody gave everything they've got and that's all you can ask for.''

South Carolina's Carlos Powell scored a game-high 16 points and was chosen tournament MVP, showing no problems with the right forearm strain he sustained in the semifinal victory over Maryland on Tuesday. He had 31 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in his final two games with for the Gamecocks.

South Carolina (20-13) reached 20 wins for the third time in Odom's four seasons. The Gamecocks lost the 2002 NIT title game to Memphis.

Odom improved to 16-3 in the NIT. He won also won it in 2000 with Wake Forest.

Saint Joseph's got to the title game the hard way, starting in the opening round and playing four times before reaching New York. Of the final four, only the Hawks played in the opening round and they were the only team to play on the road before reaching Madison Square Garden.

The Hawks were the NIT runners-up in 1996, Phil Martelli's first season as head coach.

``We are not going to leave here in second place, we are going to leave as champions,'' Martelli said. ``It just doesn't say that in the end result.''

The Gamecocks must've felt as though they were the visitors on Thursday, with about 8,000 Saint Joseph's supporters on hand.

Coaches pushing for more distant 3-point arc

ST. LOUIS — Add college basketball coaches to the long line of guys who can't stand prosperity.

Included in their ranks are at least two of the coaches here at the Final Four and, according to the latest survey, two-thirds of the basketball brethren. Never mind that we're coming off the most thrilling weekend in NCAA tournament history, and that 3-point shots, made and missed, were the reason for most of the chills.

From most coaches' vantage point, 19 feet, 9 inches is still too close. It needs to be a size 9 sneaker — about 9 inches — farther back.

``Maybe that way only the real good shooters will take them,'' Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said Thursday through an exasperated grin, ``and the guys who don't have a prayer won't be so tempted.''

The debate over where to paint the arc has been raging since the NCAA legislated it into being for the 1986-87 season. Some additional kindling was piled on only Wednesday when Louisville's Rick Pitino and Illinois' Bruce Weber, whose teams launched an average of 24 and 22 treys this season, weighed in on pushing it back to the international distance of 20-6 — still a good two feet closer than the NBA's.

``It's always been too close,'' Pitino said.

That's the exact same thought he had 18 years ago, when Pitino was a rising star in the business at his second stop in Providence, and he walked out on the court after arena officials finished striping the floor. Standing behind the line, Pitino felt as if he'd been granted a glimpse into the future. He already had three exceptional shooters on that squad — Delray Brooks, Ernie ``Pops'' Lewis and Billy Donovan, who would go on to coach Florida — and their long-range bombing validated that vision and carried the unheralded Friars all the way to the national semis.

Considering how many coaches are control freaks, not everybody bought into the 3 quite as quickly or as thoroughly. But by season's end, even old-school disciple Bob Knight reluctantly joined the parade. His Indiana team survived UNLV in the semis, despite Fred Banks' single-game record of 10, then beat Syracuse for the national championship as Steve Alford knocked down an incredible 7 of 10 treys.

On his way into the news conference afterward, Knight saw the late Dr. Edward Steitz, then chief of the NCAA rules committee, standing in the hallway. The two had been arguing, with genuine affection, about the 3-point shot all season long and Knight couldn't resist having the last word. With a wide grin and his index finger pointed at Steitz like a lecturer, he simply said, ``You happy now?''

Steitz died in 1990, but chances are good that if he were still around, the answer would be a resounding ``yes.''

The 3-point line was designed to create more space on the floor by stretching defenses and lessening the pounding in the post — and that was before the days of serious weight training. It serves that same purpose today.

But Pitino and the rest of the push-it-back crowd not only believe the international line would create more space; it would give the coaches more control over who does the launching. The Illini took 35 3-pointers in their win over Arizona and Louisville's overtime win over West Virginia came only after a combined 55 attempts beyond the arc.

The first thing that came to mind watching those games, North Carolina coach Roy Williams admitted, is where the nearest exit was located. His team shoots the 3 just enough to create space under the basket for Sean May, and like Calhoun he wouldn't mind if the temptation were a little easier to resist.

``We always try to look for a great balance, and sometimes we get it,'' Williams said, ``and sometimes we don't.''

Calhoun was so stunned by West Virginia's use of the three against Louisville — they made a staggering 18 of 27, some that looked as if they'd been launched from the stands — that he called Mountaineers coach John Beilein for the inside story.

``I told him I'd never seen anything like it,'' Calhoun recalled, ``and he said, 'Jim, in 30 years of coaching, neither have I.'''

And chances are good we won't see it again anytime soon. The combined 3-point shooting percentage for the regional finals last weekend was 47 percent — a dozen percentage points better than the average at midseason and for all of 2003-04.

On top of that, guys like Pitino and Calhoun have become a clear majority. The last survey circulated by the NCAA put the number of coaches favoring the international distance at 65 percent.

``That way, only the guys who can make them for us,'' Calhoun said, ``will take them for us.''

This feature was written by Jim Litke, a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at

News Nuggets are compiled periodically based on material supplied by staff members; data published by ECU, Conference USA and its member schools; and reports from Associated Press and other sources. Copyright 2005 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Page Updated: 02/23/2007 12:22 PM


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