Kansas' Thomas Robinson, Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, Kentucky's Anthony Davis and Louisville's Gorgui Dieng are four of the nation's most dominating big men.
It’s going to be big boys only in the Big Easy.
After a couple years of mid-majors breaking into the party and little guys leading their teams to titles, this weekend’s Final Four in New Orleans will feature power players from power conferences.
The players are as good as it gets when it comes to big men: Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis. They’re all first-team All-Americans, and Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng isn’t bad, either.
Yeah, this is going to be big.
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Here’s a capsule look at the inside men:
• Robinson, Kansas. Strong, athletic, a double-double waiting to happen. His 426 rebounds this season are the second-most in Jayhawks history behind Wilt Chamberlain. Hard to believe this unanimous, 6-foot-10 junior All-American wasn’t much more than a bit player last season. Figures to be an NBA lottery pick if he leaves school.
• Davis, Kentucky. The 6-10 forward with guard skills, he has made as big of an impact as any of coach John Calipari’s recent run of freshman phenoms. Athletic and with a pterodactyl-like wingspan, he scores, he swats, he disrupts. He’s the anchor of the Wildcats’ defense and a ferocious shot-blocker, leading the NCAA with 175 rejections.
• Sullinger, Ohio State. The AP’s first repeat All-American in three years, the 6-9, 265-pound sophomore is the prototype of today’s big man: Physical, yet with good touch away from the basket and agile enough to get to the rim. Sat out with back spasms when Kansas beat the Buckeyes on Dec. 10.
• Dieng, Louisville. The 6-11 Senegalese shot-blocker seems to swoop in at the last minute and swat shots away. But watch before the shot goes up, the way the sophomore sets himself up and figures out when to jump. And that coil — he’s like a cobra waiting to strike.
K-State AD denies rift
with former coach Martin
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas State athletic director John Currie admitted that he didn’t always see eye to eye with coach Frank Martin.
One thing they agreed on Tuesday: There was no rift in their relationship.
“John has been great,” Martin said during a conference call shortly after being introduced as South Carolina’s new coach. “It’s unfortunate that I make a difficult decision and everyone’s got to figure out a way to blame someone for the decision. That’s not fair to anybody.”
Currie said he wished Martin well as he tries to turn around the Gamecocks.
Martin, 46, agreed to a six-year, $12.3 million deal. South Carolina also will pay the $1 million Martin owes for leaving Kansas State with three years remaining on his contract.
Martin went 117-54 and made four NCAA tournament appearances in five seasons with the Wildcats.
• Georgetown’s Hollis Thompson plans to skip his senior year, hire an agent and enter the NBA draft. The 6-foot-8 junior was the Hoyas’ second-leading scorer at 12.8 points per game.
• Alex Oriakhi, a 6-9 junior and a key piece of Connecticut’s 2011 national title team, was granted his release. He wants to transfer because UConn is expected to be academically ineligible for next season’s NCAA tournament.
• Notre Dame sophomore forward Alex Dragicevich, who averaged 6.6 points this season, is transferring.
• Memphis extended the contract of coach Josh Pastner by one year, through spring 2017. Financial terms were not announced. The Tigers are 75-29 in his three years, including 26-9 this season.
• Marquette coach Buzz Williams issued a statement that seems to reaffirm his commitment to the school, saying, “The future remains bright for our program.” Recent media reports said SMU might try to lure Williams.