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March Madness Themed Sports Rundown - April 9, 2024

The Seawanhaka Sports Rundown is a weekly roundup of five stories that examine developments in sports news at the local, state, national and international levels.


South Carolina Wins Women’s National Championship

South Carolina players and coaches celebrate championship victory. Via Morry Gash / AP

The South Carolina Gamecocks took home their second national championship in three seasons, this time taking down Iowa.

Iowa got off to a hot start, led by a scorching hot Caitlyn Clark who scored 18 of Iowa’s 27 points in the first quarter. South Carolina responded by winning the second quarter by 10, and not relinquishing the lead in the second half.

Projected top-five pick Kamilla Cardoso posted 15 points, 17 rebounds, two assists and three blocks in the victory, shooting 50% from the field. Senior transfer Te-Hina Paopao posted 14 points in the victory.

The real talk of the night on the broadcast was the underclassmen for USC. Freshman Tessa Johnson led the Gamecocks with 19 points, draining three triples and grabbing four rebounds. Fellow freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley played an impactful 18 minutes off the bench, recording nine points, four rebounds, four assists, a block, and helping anchor USC’s defense.

Sophomore Chloe Kitts also posted a double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Ashlyn Watkins made multiple key hustle plays and great defensive efforts.

South Carolina is the first undefeated champion since UCONN achieved the feat in 2016. It is head coach Dawn Staley’s third NCAA championship, with prior wins in 2017 and 2022. USC has won 80.6% of their games under Staley. The championship game set records for women’s basketball viewership, peaking at 24 million and an average of 18.7 million concurrent viewers. 

UCONN Goes Back To Back

UCONN celebrating it’s national championship victory via Brynn Anderson/AP

The University of Connecticut are the first back to back champions of the men’s tournament since the Florida super teams of 2006 and 2007. Despite a monster 37 point, 10 rebound performance from Purdue superstar Zach Edey, the Huskies were able to prevail, with 4 players scoring double digits. The matchup between the 7’4 Edey and UCONN’s 7’2 Donovan Clingan lived up to the hype. Despite Edey’s scoring outburst, Clingan’s defense prevented any other Purdue player from making an impact, with only point guard Braden Smith scoring more than five points for the Boilermakers (only five players scored for Purdue). It was the first time the AP Player of the Year was able to match up against a similarly-massive player, and Edey was still dominant on both ends. Edey joined four Huskies on the All Tournament team, being paired with Tristin Newton, Stephon Castle, Cam Spencer and Clingan. Cam Spencer got the Huskies going early, opening the game with a three following an Edey bucket. Newton led the Huskies with 20 points and seven assists to go with five rebounds. Castle had 15 points, and Clingan and Spencer each had 11.

Samsam Johnson only had four points, despite five fouls, but they were four massive points, slipping for alley oops on back to back possession that really gave UCONN all the momentum in the game. Perhaps the most impressive highlight of the game was a putback dunk by Camden Heide, his only basket in 15 minutes of action. UCONN’s gameplay was simple and successful: Play Edey straight up, and don’t let anyone else kill you. The Boilermakers shot only 44% from the field, (31% for all non-Edey attempts) and went 1 for 7 from deep. It was a collective effort from the Huskies, and one that worked out well in the end, resulting in UCONN’s 6th championship in the last 25 years.

LIU Players Hit The Transfer Portal

LIU’s CJ Delancy defending UCONN’s Donovan Clingan, via WFSB

LIU Men’s basketball has had four players enter the transfer portal. Verbal Commits reports R.J. Greene, CJ Delancy, and Eric Acker have entered the portal, with Rivals reporting Nikola Djapa entering the portal. These are coupled with the departures of LIU’s leading scorer Tai Strickland and top three point shooter Andre Washington, who are both graduating.

Acker was LIU’s second leading scorer as a freshman, and was named to the NEC All Rookie Team. The Brooklyn native’s career high came against Le Moyne, where he posted 28 points. Acker also led the sharks with 3.8 assists per game. Fellow freshman Djapa started in 27 out of his 29 games played, recording three double doubles and posting a 19 point game against FDU. Djapa also led the NEC with 109 fouls committed. Djapa averaged 6.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, shooting 57% from the field.

Another big transferring out is Arkansas native CJ Delancy, who only appeared in 17 games this season after playing in 25 and starting in 16 as a freshman last season. In his career, Delancy has shot 56% from the field, averaging 4.7 points and 3.3 assists with 1 block per game. The Sharks are also losing their leading rebounder, as swingman RJ Greene has entered the portal after averaging 8 points and 8 rebounds per game. Greene has played just about every position for the Sharks in his two seasons, having to play point guard on the fly occasionally as a freshman, with time spent on the wing, while getting most of his minutes as a four and undersized five this season.

Former All-NBA guard turned Sharks head coach Rod Strickland is in for an exciting offseason, having to rebuild this roster once again. Strickland has a career record of 10-48 as Sharks head coach, and with many of his top players transferring out, fans are interested to see what next year’s Sharks team will look like.

John Calipari Closing In On Deal To Become Arkansas’ Head Coach

John Calipari screaming during a game Via USA Today

Legendary basketball coach John Calipari is in talks with Arkansas to become the Razorbacks' next head coach. Calipari is 9th all time in Division 1 wins, with multiple Coach of the Year distinctions and a national championship under his belt. Coach Cal headed Massachusetts from 1988-1996, Memphis from 2000-2008, and coached Kentucky, revitalizing it into a basketball powerhouse, from 2009 to this season, winning the national championship in 2012.

After missing the tournament in 2021, and two first round and one second round exit in the last three seasons, things were not looking good for the future of Kentucky.

Calipari is leaving to try and work his magic for Arkansas, which should be a good change of pace from Kentucky. Arkansas hasn’t won a national championship since 1994, when they beat the Grant Hill led Duke Blue Devils on the back of a 23 point Corliss Williamson performance. The Razorbacks made the tournament in three out of the last four seasons under Eric Musselman

Bronny James Enters Transfer Portal, Declares For Draft

Bronny James pictured in his USC jersey Via Sky News

Bronny James, son of all-time great LeBron James, has entered the transfer portal and declared for the NBA draft. James played his freshman year at USC, appearing in 25 games and starting in six, averaging 4.8 points, 2.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds per game in 19 minutes per game. His father had previously expressed interest in one day joining forces with Bronny at the NBA level. Bronny is keeping his options open, potentially being taken in the draft or

transferring out of USC. There isn’t a strong indication either way of how his offseason will end up. James was the 17th ranked recruit in the class of 2023 per RSCI.

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