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Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has signed draft selections Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tony Mitchell to contracts.

All players selected in the first round of the NBA Draft are guaranteed to receive a contract. Caldwell-Pope went first round, while Mitchell went second round.

Caldwell-Pope was drafted by Detroit with the eighth overall selection in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. In five games during the 2013 NBA Summer League in Orlando, he averaged 13.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.8 steals in 28.6 minutes per game. The 6-foot-6 guard from the University of Georgia averaged a SEC-leading 18.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.0 steals in 32 games as a sophomore last season.  The 2012-13 SEC Player of the Year and an All-SEC First Team selection was one of only nine players in NCAA Division 1 to score in double figures in every game last season.  Caldwell-Pope led the Bulldogs in rebounds (7.1 rpg), was third in the SEC in three-point field goal percentage (37.3) and recorded seven double-doubles. In his final collegiate game against LSU in the SEC Tournament, Caldwell-Pope scored a career-high 32 points, including 25 in the second half.

Mitchell was drafted by Detroit with the 37th pick in the second round. He compiled averages of 7.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 25.4 minutes in five games during the 2013 NBA Summer League. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 13.7 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.9 blocks in 55 games at the University of North Texas.  Last season he averaged 13.0 and 8.5 rebounds in 32 games while leading the Sun Belt Conference with 2.7 blocks per game.  During his first year at North Texas, he was one of only two freshmen in the NCAA to average a double-double joining Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, the #1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft.  A member of the gold-medal winning 2010 USA Men’s U-18 at the 2010 FIBA Americas U-18 Championship, he finished his collegiate career as North Texas’ all-time leader in blocks (157).

Detroit Pistons open to making NBA trades

The Pistons have been a busy team this offseason, upgrading their talent and various obvious needs that culminated with bringing back Chauncey Billups.

But despite having 16 players on the roster, counting their three draft picks this season, Pistons president Joe Dumars isn’t yet done shopping.

“The only thing left is trade possibilities, and that door will continue to be open,” Dumars said. “It’ll continually stay open.”

As for the rumor mill that’s linked the Pistons with point guards Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee Bucks) and Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics), he coyly debunked both reports — which had Brandon Knight as the common denominator as trade bait.

“Bogus, bogus. No conversations.” said Dumars about the Jennings theory before turning his attention to Boston. “I haven’t had any conversations with (Celtics GM) Danny Ainge about Brandon (Knight).”

Reported by Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News

michael redd

Dumars is in the final year of his contract and making the playoffs now seems essential, with a new owner in Tom Gores, a half-empty arena and five straight losing seasons. The Pistons have fine young pieces in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, but trying to win with an unproven point guard is tough. It’s partly why Dumars bypassed Trey Burke in the draft, and why the Pistons are mentioned in every trade rumor involving the Celtics’ Rajon Rondo, even though Dumars denies them.

It’s why the Pistons drafted someone who appears more NBA-ready, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and why they doled out $54 million for mercurial but talented forward Josh Smith.

“I know we can compete for (the playoffs) now,” Dumars said. “We’ve upgraded the talent, the shooting, the leadership, the athleticism. I’m really comfortable if we had to go into the season with this roster. But you can’t shut the door and say, ‘OK, we’re done.’ ”

Reported by Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News

Chauncey Billups is back on the Detroit Pistons

Apparently you can go home again, sometimes.

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has signed free agent guard Chauncey Billups.

“We are pleased to announce Chauncey Billups’ return to the Pistons organization,” said Dumars.  “Chauncey played an integral part in the success of the franchise from 2002-2008.  His playmaking ability and experience will provide depth in the back court while his leadership and commitment to winning will help our club.”

Billups is at the end of his career, but would still be able to provide deep bench depth for a championship-contending team. But on the Pistons — who are nowhere near even thinking about winning an NBA championship, Billups can act as a player-coach and provide leadership and help various young players improve their games.

Billups, 36, has NBA career averages of 15.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 31.9 minutes in 1,024 games (930 starts) with the L.A. Clippers, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons.  The 15-year veteran is a five-time NBA All-Star, ranks fourth in NBA history for three-pointers made (1,816) and is the seventh active NBA player to reach 5,000 assists.  He is one of only 31 players (four active) in NBA history to score over 14,000 points and distribute more than 5,000 assists.  Billups has played in 146 career playoff games (143 starts) during 12 trips to the NBA playoffs and averaged 17.3 points, 5.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 36.4 minutes per game.  He won the NBA’s inaugural Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award this past June, which recognizes the NBA player deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to his team.

Billups’ six-year career in Detroit is highlighted by back-to-back Eastern Conference Championships and two NBA Finals appearances in 2004 and 2005.  He was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player during the Pistons NBA Championship season in 2003-04 when he averaged 21.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists in five games vs. the Los Angeles Lakers.  The Denver, CO native was named an NBA All-Star three times with Detroit, All-NBA Second Team (2006), All-NBA Third Team (2007) and All-NBA Defensive Second Team (2005, 2006).  In 463 games with the Pistons, Billups averaged 17.0 points, 6.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 34.4 minutes per game.

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has signed free agent forward Luigi Datome to a multi-year contract.

Datome, 25, has played professionally in Italy since 2003 with Montepaschi Siena, Givova Scafati Basket, Basket Olbia and Acea Virtus Roma.  The 6-foot-8, 215-pound forward was named Italian League Most Valuable Player with Roma in 2013, posting averages of 16.7 points (.478 FG%, .415 3FG%, .928 FT%), 5.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 33.1 minutes in 45 games.  He’s played with Roma for the past five seasons (2008-2013).

The 25-year-old Italy native has been a member of the Italian National Team since 2007.  His basketball achievements internationally include being a member of Italy’s U16 National Team (2003), U18 National Team (2003-05) and the U20 National Team (2004-07).  He was a member of the Italian U20 National Championship team in 2004.  In the qualifier for the European Championships in 2012-13, Datome averaged 11.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 51.5% from the field and 48.4% from 3-point range in eight games.  He was named Eurobasket.com All-Italian SerieA Player of the Year, All-Italian SerieA Domestic Player of the Year and All-Italian SerieA First Team last season.

Detroit Pistons re-sign guard Will Bynum

Detroit Pistons re-sign guard Will Bynum

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has re-signed guard Will Bynum to a multi-year contract.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Will Bynum,” said Dumars.  “Will provides depth at the point guard position while possessing the unique ability to change a game with his aggressiveness both offensively and defensively.”

Bynum appeared in a career-high 65 games (no starts) last season averaging 9.8 points (career-high .469 FG, .316 3FG, .809 FT), 1.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 0.7 steals in 18.8 minutes per game.  He scored a season-high 31 points (career-high 13 FG and 26 FGA) at Atlanta (12/26), made a single-season career-high 24 3-pointers and scored his 2,000th career point vs. New York (1/17).

In 297 career NBA games, Bynum has averages of 8.1 points on .446 (923-2,068 FG) shooting with 1.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 18.5 minutes per game.  He set a Pistons franchise record for points in a quarter with 26 fourth quarter points vs. Charlotte (4/5/09) during the 2008-09 season.  The 6-0, 185-pound guard also dished out career-high 20 assists vs. Washington (3/12) during the 2011-12 season – the most by a Piston since Isiah Thomas recorded 21 on April 12, 1985.

The Chicago, IL native was undrafted out of Georgia Tech and originally signed with the Pistons as a free agent on July 30, 2008.  Bynum signed a second multi-year contract to remain with the club on July 30, 2010.

The newest member of the Detroit Pistons made the announcement on Facebook.

Italian small forward Luigi Datome wrote: “I made my decision to be a player of the Detroit Pistons. I think that Detroit is the right place to make another step in my career and to realize a dream. I am very excited to play with the Pistons.”

A person familiar with the situation confirmed the signing and told the Free Press the deal is expected to be two years. The source requested anonymity because the deal isn’t final until Wednesday, when the league’s annual free agency moratorium ends. Yahoo! Sports is reporting the agreement is worth $3.75 million.

With the agreement, the Pistons addressed one of their biggest needs — outside shooting.

Reported by Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press

Datome, 25, averaged 16.6 points and 5.8 rebounds for Virtus Roma last season, shooting 47 percent from the field (41 percent on 3-point attempts) and 92 percent from the free throw line.

The Pistons can’t announce contract agreements with free agents until Wednesday, when the league moritorium on signings is lifted.

Reported by the Associated Press

Rasheed Wallace to be Detroit Pistons assistant coach

It hasn’t been announced, but former Piston Rasheed Wallace will join the Pistons’ coaching staff this season.

Wallace strolled into the Amway Center wearing a polo shirt with the Pistons’ team logo on Monday, and prompted some light teasing when observers thought he was wearing a Celtics baseball hat. Turns out Wallace is a big fan of Notre Dame football.

Wallace played for the Pistons from 2004-09, being the final piece to a championship puzzle in 2004, and has generally been regarded as one of the smarter players in the game.

In every year but one in Detroit, Wallace helped the Pistons get to the Eastern Conference finals and twice the Pistons advanced to the NBA Finals.

Reported by Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News

InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner says: Rasheed can set an NBA record for most technical fouls called on an assistant coach

Josh Smith

The Pistons’ acquisition of Josh Smith sent shock waves through the NBA and it received positive reactions from two of the team’s building blocks.

Smith will make life easier for Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond, the team’s first-round picks in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

“Honestly, he’s a great player,” Drummond said after the Pistons‘ 76-67 Summer League win over the Brooklyn Nets Sunday at the Amway Center. “He creates shots for himself and his teammates. He’s (like) a big guard.”

Knight, who didn’t play with the summer league team but practiced with them this week, approved of the deal — which was to be expected.

“Athletic player, competitor, tough, tough guy,” he said. “If he does decide to come, he’ll be a great player to have.”

Smith agreed to a four-year, $54 million deal with the Pistons Saturday afternoon, which sprouted from the Pistons having interest in the former Atlanta Hawks forward for years on end.

Reported by Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News

Detroit Pistons will sign Josh Smith

Josh Smith

The Josh Smith era in Atlanta is over.

The Hawks forward has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $56 million contract with the Pistons according to WSB.

Smith played all nine seasons with his hometown Hawks, who selected him with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. He is ranked in the top 10 in most of the Hawks’ all-time statistical categories, including games, points and rebounds.

Smith could have received a maximum deal of five years and $94 million from the Hawks.

Reported by Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Detroit Pistons jumped into free-agency feet first after testing the waters, striking a deal with Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith to a four-year, $54 million deal, sources tell the Detroit News.

The deal could rise to $56 million if Smith reaches performance incentives but for the moment, he’ll be making $13.5 million per season to play both forward spots for the Pistons, immediately turning them into a more athletic and dynamic team.

The Pistons were first at Smith’s door in Los Angeles at the dawn of free agency, at 12:01 AM Monday morning, making clear their intentions to be a real player in free agency with over $20 million in cap space.

Reported by Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News

Jonas Jerebko

With every new coach comes change and it’s likely none of the Detroit Pistons welcomes that more than Jonas Jerebko.

The veteran forward spent much of last season in former coach Lawrence Frank’s doghouse, getting buried on the bench for long stretches as the Pistons missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

Now, with Maurice Cheeks in place as the 33rd coach in Pistons’ history, Jerebko feels like he’s got a new lease on his professional life.

Like everybody else, he’s starting fresh with Cheeks.

“It feels good,” Jerebko said Thursday after Cheeks was introduced during a press conference at The Palace. “I want to start playing right now and it’s June. I’m just excited for a fresh start.”

No wonder.

After missing just four of 148 games during his first two NBA seasons, Jerebko saw action in 49 of 82 last season.

Reported by Brendan Savage of Michigan Live

maurice cheeks

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has named Maurice Cheeks as head coach, signing him to a multi-year contract.

Cheeks brings more than 30-plus years of NBA experience to the job and becomes the 29th head coach in Detroit franchise history.  He will be formally introduced to the Detroit media later this week.

“We’re pleased to welcome Maurice Cheeks to the Pistons organization,” Dumars said.  “The leadership and player development qualities he brings as a former player and coach blends nicely with the roster we are building for the future.  He’s won an NBA championship, coached in two NBA Finals as an assistant coach and mentored some of the top young players in the NBA.”

“After spending some time with Maurice, I was very impressed not only with his basketball knowledge but his communication and leadership skills,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores. “We are very excited to have someone of his experience and talent help take this franchise into the future.”

Cheeks joins the Pistons after serving  four years as an assistant coach with Oklahoma City, where he helped guide the Thunder to a 212-100 (.707) record, four playoff appearances and an NBA Finals appearance in 2012.

The 56-year-old Chicago native served as head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers from 2001-05 recording a 162-139 (.538) regular-season record, the fourth-highest win total in Blazers coaching history.  His Portland teams made consecutive playoff appearances in 2001 and 2002 and posted records of .500 or better three times, including a 50-32 mark in 2002-03 which tied for second in the Pacific Division.  Portland’s defense ranked in the top-10 in points allowed and steals in both 2001-02 and 2002-03.

Cheeks was named head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2005 and led the Sixers to a 122-147 (.454) record in three-plus seasons.  He led the team to the playoffs in 2008, marking the club’s first postseason appearance in three years.  The 76ers were 12 games under .500 in early February that season and improved to 21-7 the remainder of the year to clinch a playoff berth.  Cheeks owns a career record of 284-286 (.498) in 570 games as an NBA head coach.

Prior to his head coaching stints, Cheeks spent seven seasons as an assistant coach with the 76ers serving under John Lucas (1994-96), Johnny Davis (1996-97) and former Pistons’ head coach Larry Brown (1997-2001).  As a member of Philadelphia’s 2000-01 staff under Brown, he helped guide the club to a 56-26 (.683) record and a spot in the NBA Finals.  Cheeks began his coaching career with the Quad City Thunder of the Continental Basketball Association.  During his only season with Quad City (1993-94), he helped guide the club to the CBA Championship.

A 15-year NBA veteran (11 with Philadelphia), Cheeks was a key member of the 76ers’ 1983 NBA Championship team.  He was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team five times, which included four first-team honors and one second-team honor.  A four-time NBA All-Star, Cheeks averaged 11.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 2.1 steals while shooting 52% from the field in 1,101 career games.  He enjoyed his best year during the 1985-86 season when he averaged 15.4 points and a career-high 9.2 assists.  Drafted 36th overall in the 1978 NBA Draft, Cheeks currently ranks 11th all-time in NBA history in assists (7,392) and fifth all-time in steals (2,310).   His #10 jersey was retired by the 76ers in 1995.

maurice cheeks

The Detroit Pistons appear poised to make Maurice Cheeks their next head coach, in the effort to end the revolving door at that spot.

Cheeks and the Pistons have been engaged in negotiations in recent days, as multiple sources expressed optimism this saga, that began with the team firing Lawrence Frank at season’s end and wound up with the Pistons going through the complicated process of interviewing multiple candidates, has reached its end.

The Pistons hope to get a deal done before the end of weekend. Frank being due to receive nearly $4 million next season — the last guaranteed year of his contract — along with a portion of his fourth year could complicate matters as far as Cheeks’ contract length and amount.

Currently an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cheeks has helped with the development of guards Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson and former Thunder guard Eric Maynor, who was traded to Portland this season. It’s a background the Pistons liked, especially since they’re still figuring out what they have in 2011 first-round pick Brandon Knight and they hope Cheeks could be a good mentor for him…

Cheeks’ consistency probably outweighed his tangible resume, as his career record doesn’t jump out at anyone (284-286 in nine seasons in Portland and Philadelphia), but he’s highly regarded around the league, especially in Oklahoma City.

Reported by Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News

The Pistons are content with their young big men — third-year power forward Greg Monroe and rookie center Andre Drummond, who will represent the Pistons on stage tonight when the TV lights pop on at Times Square Studios.

So whom would the Pistons select if Drummond provides the luck needed to parlay a 3.6% chance into the No. 1 pick when the draft is held June 27?

Teams looking for perimeter help — like the Pistons — might turn to Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore.

McLemore, 20, who spoke to reporters at the NBA predraft combine last week, knows he is close to realizing a lifelong dream.

– Reported by Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press

Isiah Thomas earns master`s degree

Isiah Thomas

Former Detroit Pistons ‘Bad Boy’ Isiah Thomas continued to keep busy in school after a Hall of Fame playing career and multiple years as a basketball coach. Today, it paid off for him.

Thomas graduated with a masters of education from the University of California at Berkeley, tweeting his cap and gown and retweeting congratulations to other UC Berkeley graduates.

He said in a recent Huffington Post story that he has “studied the connections between education and sports. In pursuing this degree, I have had the time to reflect on how we, as a society, make available access to education for athletes, especially black male athletes.”

– Reported by Brian Manzullo of the Detroit Free Press

pistons coaching interviews

Lindsey Hunter and Nate McMillan have different coaching resumes.

Hunter, 42, is a relative coaching neophyte, with only 41 games under his belt.

McMillan, 48, has 101/2 seasons and five playoff appearances to his credit.

But there is one similarity — they are former players known for toughness they displayed during their playing careers.

And there is a thought that playing experience is helpful in navigating the pitfalls coaches face.

Both candidates have interviewed for the Pistons’ vacant head-coaching position — Hunter on Monday and McMillan on Tuesday.

– Reported by Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press

Detroit Pistons fire coach Lawrence Frank

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that Lawrence Frank will not return as the team’s head coach.

“We thank Lawrence for his hard work and dedication, but we feel it is in the best interest of the franchise to make a change at this time,” said Dumars.  “Decisions like this are never easy and we wish Lawrence well in the future.”

Frank, who was named head coach on August 3, 2011, tallied a regular-season record of 54-94 (.365) in two seasons with the Pistons.

This past regular season, which ended yesterday, the Pistons compiled a 29-53 record, tied for 23rd best in the league out of 30 teams.

Fate of Pistons coach to be decided soon

lawrence frank

Although his team isn’t headed to the postseason, Wednesday’s finale against the Nets offered at least a small bit of good news for Pistons coach Lawrence Frank.

He won’t have to take any more questions from the media about his job status.

He knows it’s out of his hands, and he can only hope that team owner Tom Gores shows patience and gives him a third season on the Pistons’ bench.

“Unfortunately, it’s been too long a talk for too long,” Frank said when asked if it crossed his mind that Wednesday might have marked his final moments as Pistons coach. “It’s been going on for awhile, so it’s not like this just jumped up and it’s news flash.

“Because you have to answer the question every day, it’s something you do give some thought to.”

The answer will come quickly — today, very likely — and indications are strong the odds aren’t with Frank, especially when you consider a strange twist Wednesday night. Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported late Wednesday that Frank is demanding the Pistons pick up his fourth-year option for $4 million as a condition for his returning for his third season.

– Reported by Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press

Greg Monroe

With the media speculating on Pistons coach Lawrence Frank’s future with the organization, one player offered some support this morning.

Greg Monroe, nearing the end of his third season, said after this morning’s shoot-around that Frank has “done a good job” and deserves to return.

“Yeah, I think he’s done a good job here,” Monroe said before tonight’s game against the Cavs. “There are a lot guys that have been in and out and new players here. I think once he gets a group of guys, a core that you know will be here, I think it’ll be easier for him.”

Monroe has spent the past two seasons with Frank. Monroe’s rookie year was a tumultuous one for former Pistons coach John Kuester.

– Reported by Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press

No hill too high. No gap too wide. No deficit too daunting. No waiting any more for these Louisville Cardinals.

The Floyd Street escape artists climbed back from 12 points behind for the second time in the space of one Final Four on Monday night, then mounted a temporary stage to celebrate their school’s first NCAA Championship since the adoption of the three-point shot.

They beat Michigan, 82-76, and they did it while treading a tightrope of foul trouble. They did it behind backup forward Luke Hancock, who twice came off the bench in Atlanta to deliver epic performances. They did it behind prodigal forward Chane Behanan, who started the season under a gag order and ended it by making himself heard in deafening decibels beneath the basket.

They did it for the first time since 1986, and capped a bountiful day for their coach, Rick Pitino. Formally announced among the new class of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday morning, Pitino padded his resume late Monday night by becoming the first college coach to win an NCAA Championship at two different schools.

“We beat a great basketball team,” Pitino said amid the confetti of the post-game trophy presentation. “Probably because I have the 13 toughest guys I ever coached.”

– Reported by Tim Sullivan of the Louisville Courier-Journal

Luke Hancock led the Cards with a career-high-tying 22 points and was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player. Peyton Siva, who had 18 points, and Chane Behanan, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds, joined Hancock on the All-Tournament team. Michigan’s Trey Burke and Mitch McGary were also selected to the team.

The Cards seemingly rotated carrying the team for different stretches in the game. Wayne Blackshear got them started, scoring the first five points of the game en route to eight points.

After struggling for most of the tournament, Behanan gave them a lift in the second half. He grabbed seven offensive rebounds — only the second time all season he had that many — and scored 11 points with 11 rebounds in the second half.

– Reported by C. L. Brown of the Louisville Courier-Journal

Spike Albrecht: It was the start of perhaps the most remarkable bench performance in modern NCAA memory. On the biggest stage, in front of nearly 75,000 screaming fans, a kid who averaged less than two points a game became a scoring machine. When a terrible foul call put Burke on the bench again, Albrecht simply took over. He drove the lane and tossed one in. He drove again and got fouled. He scored 17 points in less than 17 minutes, had his career highs in points and minutes — all before halftime — and, most incredibly, made everyone temporarily forget that the national player of the year was stuck on the bench.

In fact, for a while, it looked as if Michigan might put away Louisville without Burke breaking another sweat.

– Reported by Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press

When Albrecht scored on a drive with 3:51 left in the half, Michigan’s lead was 33-21, and Albrecht led everyone with 17 points. This is the same Spike who was offered a scholarship to Michigan almost as an afterthought. His other major suitor: Appalachian State.

And now, with Burke in foul trouble, the ball was Spike’s. With his first-half flurry, he was 9-for-9 on 3-pointers in the Tournament, after averaging 1.6 points PER GAME. The 5-foot-11 freshman was becoming the type of discovery that sends people scurrying for comparisons.

All of a sudden, everyone wanted to be like Spike. His name is Michael Albrecht but he earned the nickname when he was 5, clomping around in his new baseball spikes. The Cardinals surely wanted to put a spike in Spike before he destroyed them. Burke was on the bench most of the half and wasn’t happy about it, but Albrecht helped the Wolverines avert disaster.

– Reported by Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News

Luke Hancock produced another huge game off the bench, scoring 22 points, and Pitino became the first coach to win national titles at two schools when Louisville rallied from another 12-point deficit to beat Michigan 82-76 in the NCAA championship game Monday night.

”This team is one of the most together, toughest and hard-nosed teams,” the coach said. ”Being down never bothers us. They just come back.”

More like relentless to the very end.

They’re not stopping now, either. The players intend to hold Pitino to a promise he made: If they won a national title, he’d get a tattoo.

Better leave a lot of space, coach, if you want to make this a tribute to the team.

– Reported by Paul Newberry of the Associated Press

No one was tougher than Hancock, who matched his season high after a 20-point effort in the semifinal victory over Wichita State. This time, he came off the bench to hit four straight 3-pointers in the first half after Michigan got a boost from an even more unlikely player.

Freshman Spike Albrecht made four straight from beyond the arc, too, blowing by his career high before the break with 17 points. Coming in, Albrecht was averaging 1.8 points a game and had not scored more than seven all season.

Albrecht didn’t do much in the second half, but Hancock finished what he started for Louisville. He made it 5-for-5 when he hit his final 3 from the corner with 3:20 remaining to give the Cardinals their biggest lead, 76-66. Michigan wouldn’t go away, but Hancock wrapped it up by making two free throws with 29 seconds left.

– Reported by Paul Newberry of the Associated Press

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