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Louisville head coach Rick Pitino to coach Puerto Rico National Team
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino announced on Monday 20 December that he accepted Puerto Rico’s offer to coach their National Team in next year’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in their bid to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.
“It's a tall order and that's why I'm taking it,” said Pitino, who is the only men’s college basketball coach to have final four stints with three different teams. “If they were already in the Olympics, I wouldn't do it. Their backs are to the wall.”
Pitino confirmed that he talked with Puerto Rico’s basketball officials on Sunday 19 December, and he was impressed with their optimism, making him believe that the team would have a great chance to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. He also reiterated that coaching the Puerto Rico National Basketball is an honor for him.
“For me to step into a situation like that they'd have to have a tremendous desire to win because there's no compensation for me except love of the game,” Pitino said. “So I want to make sure their best players are really into it.”
Pitino also added that he would talk with potential national team members that are currently playing in the NBA like J.J Barea of the Dallas Mavericks, Carlos Arroyo of the Miami Heat, and Renaldo Balkman of the Denver Nuggets, who all threw their support to their new head coach.
“I want to see how much passion there is for winning because their backs are to the wall,” Pitino said. “They've got to finish in the top two, excluding the United States, to get into the Olympics against very good competition on foreign soil, so they'll have to be very competitive.”
In order to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, the Puerto Rico National squad will have to reach the finals of the FIBA Americas Qualifying Tournament, but it would be a tough task because they will be facing formidable teams like Brazil and Argentina, who are also both eyeing a spot in the London joust.
Despite the difficult task ahead of him and the Puerto Rican team, coach Pitino said that he is optimistic and he believes that the players will play for pride and glory in order to reach their goal next summer.
“For these guys, playing for the national team is the biggest thing in the country,” Pitino said. “They are very, very passionate about it and that was a major factor for me on my decision to take the job.”
If they would not finish on the top two in the FIBA Americas Qualifying tournament, Puerto Rico will still have a chance as long as they would finish on the top five of the FIBA Americas tourney to have a slot in the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
The top four teams in the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament would qualify for the London Olympics, but if the Great Britain National Team will be given an automatic slot, only the top three teams will have a wildcard spot in the Olympics.
When asked how his decision will affect his coaching stint with Louisville, Pitino said that Louisville would actually benefit from it since he is planning to have joint practices.
“We're going to be able to play against the national team 2-3 times and play against NBA-type players,” Pitino said. “That's going to be great for our incoming freshmen.”
Although he knows that leading Puerto Rico to the Olympics will be a gigantic task, Pitino declared that he is up to the challenge and he vowed to give his best to help the team qualify for the Olympics for the first time since the 2004 Athens Olympics. Get into all the sports betting action at www.sportsbook.com the home of sports betting.
UCLA BRUINS (3-2, 3-1 ATS) at KANSAS JAYHAWKS (6-0, 3-1 ATS) Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series
Sportsbook.com using Kansas -16.5
Two legendary Online Sportsbook programs, one dynamic college basketball setting, history, tradition. That is about all that undefeated Kansas (6-0) and UCLA (3-2) will have in common when they take the court Thursday night in Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks bring a nation-best, 64-game home winning streak into play, and the Bruins will be about as welcome in Lawrence as LeBron James will be welcome Thursday night in Cleveland.
Kansas has been clicking on all cylinders, and they have yet to add top recruit Josh Selby to the rotation. The NCAA ruled recently that Selby can play beginning on December 18. So far without Selby, Kansas is shooting a Division I best 57.8% from the field. Their average margin of victory (35.3 PPG) is also tops in the nation. As a team, they are averaging 22 assists per game. The Morris brothers have been outstanding so far. Marcus Morris leads the team in scoring at 19 PPG, while brother Markieff is averaging 12.3 PPG and a team-high 9.5 RPG. Tyshawn Taylor has been stellar so far at the point, averaging a team high 7.2 APG to complement his 9.2 PPG.
After a 3-0 start, Ben Howland’s Bruins lost in the semifinals and then the consolation game of the Preseason NIT Championship in Madison Square Garden. Sophomore forward Reeves Nelson leads the Bruins in points and rebounds (17.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG), and totaled 30 points and 23 rebounds in the two losses in New York City. Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt (14.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG) are both sophomores, and headline a young Bruins club that does not have a single senior on the team. The poise and discipline of this UCLA team will be sorely tested on Kansas’ home floor. The Bruins have totaled 84 assists and 81 turnovers this season. The combination of a young team that doesn’t protect the basketball, playing in a hostile road environment against an experienced team that has won 64 straight on its home floor and loves to pressure the ball looks like a bad combination for the baby bears. Normally when Kansas and UCLA play, that smell in the air is tradition. Thursday night in Lawrence, that won’t be tradition you’re whiffing, but more like the smell of a young team getting smoked.
69% of action at Sportsbook.com is betting that the Jayhawks will cover the big spread against the Bruins.
KANSAS is 20-5 ATS (+14.5 Units) when playing against a good team (Win Pct. 60% to 80%) over the last 3 seasons. The average score was KANSAS 80.3, OPPONENT 63.6 - (Rating = 3*).
NCAA Hoops: Pitt vs. Maryland betting odds and preview
Sportsbook.com Pitt vs. Maryland betting lines: Pitt -7, O/U 146
For one night in the Garden, east coast basketball fans can pretend that the old Big East-ACC challenge is back when Pittsburgh takes on Maryland in a semifinal game of the 2K Classic. The Panthers (91.7 PPG in three games) are off to a sizzling start offensively, as they have been led by the starting backcourt of Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker.
Each player is averaging 19.3 PPG. Despite an opening-game scare from the Rhode Island Rams, the Panthers have been generally dominant, winning its first three games by an average of 32 points. In addition to scoring, the 6-foot-4 Wanamaker is also tops on the Pitt’s stat sheet in assists (6.3 APG) and steals (2.0 SPG). Over the past two seasons, Pittsburgh ranked sixth in the nation in rebounding margin, and are picking up where they left off last year. The Panthers are outrebounding opponents by more than 21 rebounds a game so far this season.
The college basketball betting crowd at Sportsbook.com are pro Pitt, as 89 percent of the point spread bettors are backing the Panthers.
Despite those gaudy numbers on the glass, Jamie Dixon’s squad will have a major challenge on its hands in the paint against Maryland. Sophomore center Jordan Williams is off to a phenomenal start. Williams averaged 9.6 PPG and 8.6 RPG last season. So far this year, he is pulling down 13.7 RPG to go along with his 21.0 PPG. The only other ACC player to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in the past decade was Tyler Hansbrough.
While the backcourt of Adrian Bowie and Sean Mosley is still learning the ropes with one another, Gary Williams’ team has gotten a boost from freshman guard Pe’Shon Howard, who had 14 points and the game-winning basket versus Charleston in a one-point win last week. Watching the Panthers team of defenders (six players are averaging at least 5.0 RPG) battle Williams for supremacy on the glass could be the matchup that determines who will step up and take control of this game down the stretch.
This college hoops betting trend favors the favorites covering the point spread tonight.
Play On - Favorites of 3.5 to 9.5 points (PITTSBURGH) - an excellent defensive team (<=63 PPG) against an average defensive team (67-74 PPG), after a blowout win by 20 points or more. (68-33 over the last 5 seasons.) (67.3%, +31.7 units. Rating = 2*).
PITTSBURGH is 14-3 ATS (+10.7 Units) versus teams who average 40 or more rebounds/game on the season over the last 3 seasons. The average score was PITTSBURGH 72.9, OPPONENT 64.7 - (Rating = 2*).
Now that you know the scoop for tonight’s game, head over to Sportsbook.com to bet on college hoops.