Larry Brown leaves Fiat Torino team temporarily; Roy wanted charity relief game, too

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Former University of Kansas basketball coach Larry Brown, 78, has left his Fiat Torino team in Italy temporarily to undergo a medical procedure in the United States, team officials have announced.

Sportando reporter Emiliano Carchia says it is a “minor procedure,” and Brown should be back in Italy “between Friday and Monday.”

Brown — his Fiat Torino team is off to a 1-4 start — accepted the overseas coaching post on June 13. His last job had been as SMU head coach in 2015-16.

“At the end of the Sunday match with Umana Reyer Venezia, coach Larry Brown announced that in the next week he will travel to the States, in Dallas, to carry out some checks and a small routine intervention already scheduled,” read a report on FIAT Torino’s website.

“In the days when he will be in the States the technical management of the team will be entrusted to coach Paolo Galbiati (assistant coach) and his staff. The players await coach Larry Brown as soon as possible to continue the season he started with so much determination and enthusiasm.”

Brown, the only coach in history to win both an NCAA (KU, 1988) and NBA (Detroit Pistons, 2004) title, told Gazzetta dello Sport on Sunday: “I don’t know when I’ll come back. Hopefully it will be quick.”

Roy wanted relief game, too

Like KU coach Bill Self, North Carolina’s Roy Williams wanted to play a charity exhibition game this preseason — in UNC’s case, against South Carolina; in KU’s case, against Missouri — with all proceeds to benefit victims of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina and South Carolina.

UNC’s waiver request to play the Gamecocks was denied because of a new NCAA rule that prohibits teams from playing more than two exhibition contests — or, as in Carolina’s case, one exhibition plus a secret scrimmage versus Villanova — in the preseason.

“I was dumbfounded when the waiver was not granted,” Williams told reporters Tuesday at UNC basketball media day as reported by the Charlotte Observer. “Some rule had been put in that they weren’t going to give waivers (because) we already had the other two games. If you guys (media) can convince me how that was going to help North Carolina’s basketball team or South Carolina’s basketball team over somebody else, then I’ll listen to it. But that was not the intent.

“When you see the scenes of people’s stuff out on the street, you want to do something. And that’s sadly what we saw. We saw so many situations, people losing everything they have. And we had what I thought was one of the few good ideas I’ve ever had,” Williams added of the North Carolina-South Carolina exhibition.

KU coach Bill Self recently told The Star he saw no need to contact Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin about playing an exhibition game for victims of Hurricane Florence because of the new rule prohibiting a third exhibition.

KU has two exhibition games included in its season ticket package — games important not only to KU’s athletic department budget but also the budgets of opponents Emporia State (Oct. 25) and Washburn (Nov. 1).

“They (NCAA officials) wanted the consistency of two (exhibition) games max,” Self said, noting he was “disappointed in that rule.”

Self said he definitely would have called MU’s Martin about playing for a second-straight preseason if not for the rule. The two teams raised over $2 million last year for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

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Williams on FBI case

Current UNC/former KU coach Williams was asked at media day if he noticed any changes in recruiting this past summer in the wake of the FBI investigation into college basketball.

“It’s a massive thing that’s still going on,” Williams said Tuesday.

“I’m just dumbfounded. I had somebody criticize me and say, ‘He shouldn’t be dumbfounded.’ Well, excuse me, I have the right to have my own feelings. That world that they are explaining out there, that world that’s on national news, is one I am not familiar with. Period.

“Thirty years as a head coach I’ve never had anybody ask me for money. I’ve never asked any shoe company to recruit for me. … That world that people are acting like it goes on all the time, it does not go on. That is a world I am not familiar with,” he added. “I’m serious, guys. I’ve not had one person ask me for anything in 30 years. Not one. Never asked a shoe company to do anything for me. Don’t particularly like agents, yet they are involved in this whole deal.

“We have a very intelligent group of people (now) giving agents more access. There’s a lot of confusion going on right now. That’s a sad state of affairs people think that’s all that goes on in college athletics. That’s not all that goes on in college athletics. We have a tremendous majority of people that do it the right way, tremendous majority of kids and families that want it done the right way.”

Williams continued: “I’m a guy that thinks the glass is half full. I think college basketball is more than half full. I had a person on one of the committees sit with me at a game this summer, at Peach Jam (an AAU tourney in South Carolina). At the end of the game, it was a great game, five points in one second by the same kid, wins the game. I asked the person sitting with me, ‘Now tell me, what was wrong with this game? Tell me what was wrong with what you just saw?’ He said, ‘Absolutely nothing.’ You’re darn right. There’s a lot of great things that have gone on in summer basketball, too,” Williams added.

Embiid to sign with Under Armour?

Former KU center Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers will finalize a shoe deal with Under Armour on Wednesday, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports.

Golden State’s Steph Curry is perhaps Under Armour’s most successful client. Embiid has worn Under Armour shoes this preseason, including at 76ers media day. The fifth-year pro averaged 22.9 points and 11.0 rebounds a game last season.

“A lot of people always have that notion that big men can’t sell shoes,” Embiid, 24, told ESPN.com. “And when I look at myself, I can dribble, I can pass the ball, I can shoot. I can bring it up. I can be a playmaker. I’m more than a big man. So as far as signature shoes, I’m excited to come and break that.”

Cunliffe likes Evansville

Former Kansas guard Sam Cunliffe spoke on Evansville’s official basketball website about his decision to transfer from KU to the Indiana school over Xavier, Washington, Fresno State, Minnesota and others.

“I loved my time at Kansas, Coach (Bill) Self was great and I had some great memories,” Cunliffe, a 6-foot-6 junior from Seattle, said told gopurpleaces.com. ”I just wanted more on my shoulders and opened up my recruiting process again and know this is the best place for me.

“I am ready to lift the other guys up. No one has seen me do it in college yet. As far as being a leader, I will make sure everyone is in their spot. I remember being a freshman, it feels like it was yesterday. Being able to identify with those guys, I will bring leadership, encouragement and competitiveness,” he added.

Cunliffe added of last season: “Going to the Final Four is crazy. It is a journey and a lot has to go right. A lot of luck has to break your way. I know what it takes to prepare every day, how serious and focused you have to be. It is a long season when you make it that far. Every individual needs to take care of their business and be locked in for the whole year. We were able to come together at the right time. I will be able to bring a lot of that to this team because I know what it takes to get there.”

Lawson to visit Oregon

Chandler Lawson, a 6-foot-8 senior forward from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., and brother of KU’s Dedric and K.J. Lawson, will visit Oregon on Oct. 19-21, he told Jacob Polacheck of Zagsblog.com.

Chandler Lawson, the No. 87-rated player in the recruiting class of 2019 by Rivals.com, recently attended KU’s Late Night in the Phog as part of an official recruiting visit. He’s also considering South Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia Tech, Memphis, Illinois and others.

Lawson will visit Oregon the same weekend as Oak Hill teammate Cole Anthony, a 6-foot-2 senior point guard ranked No. 3 in the class of 2019 by Rivals.com. Anthony reportedly is considering KU, Duke, North Carolina, Georgetown, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), Notre Dame, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Villanova and Wake Forest.

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