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Why Celtics fans should pay close attention Cincy’s Yancey Gates 03.22.12 at 10:43 am ET
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Size, power and quickness. Toughness, fearlessness and the ability to rebound.

All of those are qualities the Celtics could use. It’s a commodity they’ve been desperately seeking since Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O’Neal were lost for the season.

The Celtics won’t be in the lottery this season so scouts like Ryan McDonough will be searching long and hard in the college and amateur ranks for someone who might fall through the cracks and be available in the NBA Draft this June.

Meet Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates.

At 6-9, 260 pounds, he’s certainly powerful. He can rebound, currently ranked ninth all-time on Cincinnati’s all-time rebound list with 911. He is one of only six players in the school’s illustrious history with at least 1,400 points and 900 rebounds.

He’s a senior who’s been through the wars.

Oh yeah, about that last line. Arguably the ugliest moment in Cincinnati’s basketball history came on Dec. 10 at the Cintas Center against the archrival Xavier Musketeers.

With just 9.4 seconds remaining in a 23-point loss, Gates was in the middle of college basketball’s ugliest chapter of the season. He threw a right cross that landed flush on the left eye brow of Xavier big man Kenny Frease. It opened a gash and dropped him to the ground. Frease was then stomped on by Cheikh Mbodj and blood started flowing from above Frease’s eye.

To his credit, he served a six-game suspension handed down by the school and expressed remorse. It was a complete loss of self-control and judgment. But in saying that, he has showed something else in the following three months – competitive fire.

While inconsistent at times, Gates has been the backbone of the interior game for the Bearcats, rebounding and playing defense, as coach Mick Cronin directed the team not to rely on his offense but the other things he brings to the table, like nine rebounds a game in the Big East, still considered the toughest in college basketball.

“Defense and rebounding,” Cronin said Wednesday. “We lost Ibrahima Thomas and Yancy really had to change his basketball personality from an offensive player to an all-around player. He needed to be our defensive anchor this year because we’re small in the other areas. It took him time. When he came back [from suspension] he realized here’s what I have to do to help this team win – I have to be an anchor on defense.

“These guys are scoring, they’re running around, hitting shots, beating their man off the dribble. ‘I have to finish plays around the rim, fit in and give these guys an anchor inside.’ And he’s done that. Maybe I should’ve been using him more in that capacity. So, sometimes as a coach, you stumble on to some things.”

With his presence in the middle, he led the team to road wins over Pittsburgh, Georgetown and Connecticut and home wins over Louisville and Marquette. Then, in the Big East, the Bearcats did it again to Georgetown and sent No. 2 Syracuse packing before their offense was a no-show against Louisville in the Big East championship.

Fast-forward to the tournament, they handled Texas and eliminated No. 10 Florida State, the team that beat North Carolina in the ACC title game.

This is a Bearcats team tournament-tested, and ready to take on Jared Sullinger and the Buckeyes. And the Celtics will be watching Gates very closely. You can count on it.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cheikh Mbodj, Cincinnati Bearcats, Kenny Frease
Bruce Weber won’t resign as Illinois coach 02.17.12 at 6:08 pm ET
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Facing increased pressure and criticism with his team at 16-10 and in eighth place in the Big Ten standings, Illinois coach Bruce Weber told reporters today that he has no intentions of resigning his position.

The Fighting Illini have lost seven of their past eight games and after his team’s most recent loss, a 67-62 home loss to Purdue, Weber admitted that he has “coached not to lose all year.” He insists, though, that neither he nor his team have given up on this season and he reaffirmed his commitment to the school and program.

‘€œI love Illinois,’€ Weber told the Chicago Tribune. ‘€œI’€™ve said it many times I want to be the coach here. I want to finish my career here. I’€™ve done a lot of good things. ‘€¦ Do I want to do better? No doubt. I know I’€™m a good coach. I’€™ve done things at Illinois no other coaches have done.’€

Since leading Illinois to a 37-2 record and an appearance in the NCAA championship game in 2005, Weber has not guided the Illini past the tournament’s second round since 2006 and they have missed out on the NCAA Tournament entirely in two of the last four seasons. His overall record at the school is 209-95 in what is now his ninth season.

In the last few seasons, Weber has come under increased scrutiny from the Illinois fan base and in a column in Friday’s Tribune, columnist David Haugh suggested that the school and new athletic director Mike Thomas should take a look at replacements for Weber, naming coaches like Brad Stevens of Butler, Mick Cronin of Cincinnati, Gregg Marshall of Wichita State and Shaka Smart of Virginia Commonwealth.

Nets point guard Deron Williams, who played for Weber and helped lead Illinois to the 2005 Final Four, supported his coach in an interview with ESPN Chicago, noting that he would be “very disappointed” if Weber ultimately gets fired.

“He’s in a tough situation,” Williams said. “I’d be very disappointed [if Weber were fired]. That’s my coach, and it would be hard for me. I would still support the program, but it would be hard.”

Read More: Brad Stevens, Bruce Weber, Gregg Marshall, Mick Cronin
Monday’s Morning Mashup: Titans accuse Saints of using whistle on sideline 12.12.11 at 8:06 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

NFL: Rams at Seahawks, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN; WEEI)
NHL: Devils at Lightning, 7 p.m. (Versus)


‘™¦ The Titans dropped a 22-17 decision to the visiting Saints on Sunday, but a couple of Tennessee players said there was some funny business originating from the New Orleans sideline.

Offensive linemen Jake Scott and Michael Roos said they heard a whistle coming from the Saints sideline late in the game, and a producer for “Titans All Access” has proof after capturing it with a microphone that was on Roos.

“Somebody was blowing a whistle on the sideline,” Scott said. “There is audio of it, so we’ll let it go from there. The second-to-last drive, I think.”

Said Roos: “Everybody on our side heard something, we’re not sure where it came from exactly. But it sounded like from over there, and until we know more I can’t really say anything else. It’s not something that should be done but until we can have somebody look at it, we’ll have to wait and see.”

The Saints did not comment after the game.

‘™¦ The Cincinnati and Xavier basketball teams brawled on Saturday, and Cincy coach Mick Cronin was especially forthcoming in the postgame press conference about how embarrassed he was. And yet, on Sunday the punishments were announced, and the longest suspension was for just six games. That was for Yancy Gates, who hit Xavier’s Kenny Frease with a sucker punch to the face that left Frease bleeding, punched another player and had to be restrained from continuing his assaults. At Yahoo! Sports, Pat Forde criticizes both teams for the “copout” as they failed to follow through on their tough talk.

‘™¦ Nets guard Deron Williams weighed in on the aborted Chris Paul trade to the Lakers and didn’t hold back when talking about the NBA commissioner. “David Stern‘s a bully,” he said. “You really can’t go up against him, man.” And when asked if he was OK with that quote bring used, Williams said: “[Stern] knows he’s a bully. Ain’t no secret. ‘€¦ Everybody knows that. I think every owner of every big business is a bully. That’s how they become successful.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Dec. 12, 1975, the Red Sox traded Roger Moret to the Braves for which pitcher, known in part for the fact that he caught Hank Aaron‘s 715th home run ball in the Atlanta bullpen in 1974?

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Read More: Chris Paul, David Stern, Deron Williams, Jake Scott