Police in the Dominican Republic say former major league pitcher Pascual Perez has been killed in his home during an apparent robbery.
PITTSBURGH - Mike Krzyzewski might want to stop worrying about his team's inexperience. The loaded if young Blue Devils hardly seemed intimidated by NCAA Tournament's bright lights.
If anything, they're thriving under them.
Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year Marvin Bagley scored 22 points to go with nine rebounds, fellow freshman big man Wendell Carter Jr. added 13 points and second-seeded Duke rolled by seventh-seeded Rhode Island 87-62 in the second round on Saturday to earn the program's 26th trip to the Sweet 16. Freshmen guards Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval combined for 29 points and 11 assists for the Blue Devils.
Duke (28-7) will play either Michigan State or Syracuse in the Midwest Regional semifinals in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday. The victory gave Krzyzewski 1,098 wins during his Hall of Fame career, breaking a tie with Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt for the most ever by an NCAA basketball coach.
The Rams (26-8) and their senior-laden roster never threatened after the opening 10 minutes. E.C. Matthews led Rhode Island with 23 points but the Rams were never really in it after the Blue Devils revved it up midway through the first half.
Krzyzewski's relationship with Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley dates back to when Krzyzewski recruited Dan's older brother Bobby to Duke 30 years ago. Krzyzewski praised the Hurley family for their love of the "dignity of work," an ethos that has helped Dan turn the Rams into a force in the Atlantic 10.
Work ethic is one thing. Talent is another. The Rams have plenty of the former. When the young but rapidly maturing Blue Devils are as fully engaged as they were on Saturday, they have a staggering amount of both.
The proof came in a clinically efficient opening half in which Duke picked the Rams a part. If Allen and Trent weren't knocking down 3-pointers then they were getting the ball inside to Bagley or Carter, the program's "other" potential lottery pick who is dealing with an achy Achilles. Though he winced at least once while trying to set up on the block, when Carter had the ball in his hands, the grimace disappeared. He scored nine of Duke's first 11 points to establish the Blue Devils' dominance in the paint and when the backcourt got going, the Rams simply couldn't keep pace.
A 23-5 surge midway through the first half put the Blue Devils firmly in command. Their extended zone defense with Allen at the top disrupted Rhode Island's rhythm, at one point forcing Matthews it put up an off-balance, one-handed airball from the 3-point line as the shot clock expired.
By the time Duval's second 3-pointer of the half went down, the Blue Devils were up 45-28 at the break.
As the Rams came out for the second half, junior guard Will Leviton went over to a section of Rhode Island fans and urged them to "get up, I still need you! It's still a game."
Not really. A pair of Bagley dunks shortly after intermission pushed Duke's advantage to more than 20 and the Blue Devils were on their way to Omaha.
Rhode Island: The Rams lose five seniors to graduation, including Matthews, Terrell and forward Andre Berry but have a solid nucleus returning. Whether Hurley is there to guide them is another matter. He acknowledged his name has been mentioned in connections with other jobs, including UConn. He said no last spring. It may be more difficult this time around.
Duke: For all of its offensive brilliance, the biggest difference for the Blue Devils over the last month has been their work at the other end of the floor. Duke held Rhode Island to 40 percent shooting (25 of 63).
The Blue Devils are 14-9 in Sweet 16 games under Krzyzewski.
© 2018 by The Associated Press.
It’s hard being an NBA fan and not thinking about the Celtics on St. Patrick’s Day.
All that green, the shamrocks and the libations that so many of us enjoy even more today than most days, it’s pretty cool and certainly something – well, for me at least – to be thankful for.
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The Celtics, yeah, they got a few – quite a few - things to be thankful for as well.
So what better day to point a few of them out than the unofficial holiday of the Celtics, St. Patrick’s Day.
T-ROZZAY CAN PLAY Y’ALL
When Danny Ainge drafted Terry Rozier three years ago, I admit I wasn’t a believer. You had guards, Danny Ainge. What do you need another one for? Draft Sam Dekker from Wisconsin, or UVA’s Justin Anderson. Hey, that kid Bobby Portis from Arkansas looks pretty good, too.
Ainge and the Celtics took a look at all those guys and came away convinced that Rozier was the best fit for what the wanted both in the short and long-term from that draft.
While Rozier has not emerged as a star, he has shown us all more than enough to know that he’s a pretty damn good player.
And throw in the fact that the dude was born on St. Patrick’s Day - as was Ainge - how can this guy not have a little bit of luck on his side?
CLEVELAND’S LOSS, BOSTON’S GAIN
LeBron James’ timing has been impeccable when it comes to leaving for greener pastures. So, when Kyrie Irving let the Cavs know he wanted out of Cleveland, it took a minute to sink that they were about to be LeBron’d by someone other than LeBron. But in making his desire to be traded, Irving was giving the Cavs an opportunity to get something in return for shipping him out to who knows where. The Cavs eventually wound up with a couple of draft picks, with one being a coveted first-rounder via Brooklyn in June’s NBA draft along with a trio of players headlined by Isaiah Thomas who was still on the mend from a hip injury.
The injury took longer to heal and the Cavs wound up trading Thomas and ex-Celtic Jae Crowder to teams out West.
Today, Cleveland is treading water as a middle-of-the-pack club that has shown very few signs of late that they will be nothing more than first-round fodder for some team with deep playoff aspirations and a roster ready to make that happen.
He was named to his fifth All-Star team and has spent most of this season playing for a Boston team that until recently held down best record in the East and currently sits in the No. 2 spot.
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Irving is dealing with a sore left knee that has limited him recently to not playing, but it doesn’t appear to be an injury that will significantly impact what he does in the postseason for a Celtics team that, despite all their injuries, still holds out hope of making a strong postseason run.
Whenever you ask Brad Stevens about his decision to leave Butler for the Celtics in the NBA, he makes it clear from the outset how difficult a decision it was for him and his family.
Just imagine if Stevens had won a national title instead of having a pair of national runner-up finishes to his name? Leading a mid-major like Butler to an NCAA title, which would have meant slaying UConn or Duke in the process? Stevens would have been more than just a big deal on the Butler campus. He would have been seen as a basketball god who would have had an even tougher time walking away from what he had helped build at Butler.
So Celtics fans, be thankful for Duke and UConn because without their national title game wins over Butler, there’s a very good chance that Brad Stevens would not be coaching the Celtics now.
BOSTON’S BREAKTHROUGH FUELED BY FAILED DEAL
Remember back in 2013 when Danny Ainge had the serious basketball man crush on Duke’s Justise Winslow, a player that he was willing to trade plenty of draft picks (reportedly as many as four first-round picks) to acquire the rights to draft?
Ainge suspected the Miami Heat would select him with the No. 10 pick, so Ainge tried to swing a deal with the Charlotte Hornets who were in the No. 9 slot.
Charlotte liked Winslow, but they were more smitten with Frank Kaminsky. Because of that, they wouldn’t do a deal with the Celtics.
Not doing that deal allowed Boston to have the kind of assets to eventually acquire Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Irving, moves that have collectively led to Boston’s surge towards the top of the NBA standings despite having the fifth-youngest team in the NBA.
Winslow, selected by the Heat with the 10th overall pick, has come nowhere close to being the impact player Miami was hoping they would get. And while Kaminsky has had some decent stretches, he too has been a bit underwhelming. Meanwhile, Boston kept its 16th overall pick and used it to select Rozier who as it turns out, has arguably been the best player among the trio.
Having a good scouting staff is important, of course.
But a little luck every now and then doesn’t hurt, either.