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UConn’s Geno Auriemma says men’s game is ‘a joke’

Connecticut women’s coach Geno Auriemma disparaged the college men’s game in a conference call Wednesday, saying it had become a joke.
Connecticut women’s coach Geno Auriemma disparaged the college men’s game in a conference call Wednesday, saying it had become a joke. (File/Mike Groll/Associated Press)

Geno Auriemma thinks men’s college basketball isn’t very entertaining right now, though he admits the women’s game isn’t, either.

‘‘As a spectator watching it, it’s a joke,’’ the UConn women’s coach said about the men’s game during a conference call on Wednesday. ‘‘The game’s a joke, it really is. I don’t coach it, play it. I don’t understand its ins and outs.’’

He said he was speaking more as a fan than a basketball coach. But he said he knows people are deciding what to do with their money for entertainment and he doesn’t think it’s entertaining from the fan’s standpoint.

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The numbers back up his claim.

For only the second time in the past 15 years, teams in the women’s NCAA Tournament are outscoring their male counterparts. Women’s basketball teams are averaging 69.5 points a game in the first four rounds, while the men’s teams are averaging just 67.8 points.

The differential has been getting closer since 2007, when the men were scoring 6 points more a game than the women, according to STATS.

Auriemma’s Huskies lead the country in scoring at 89.7 points a game, but he said the women’s game isn’t much better than the men's, down 3 points a contest.

‘‘Women’s basketball is behind the times. Men’s is further behind,’’ he said. ‘‘Every other sport in the world has taken steps to help people be better on the offensive end of the floor. They've moved the fences in baseball, they lowered the mound . . . NFL you touch a guy and it’s a penalty.’’

In 2013, the women outscored the men by nearly half a point. It was the first time that had happened since 2000. Now the gap is widening a little bit.

Texas to meet Smart

Texas athletic director Steve Patterson is scheduled to travel Thursday to meet with Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart to make an offer to coach the Longhorns, a person with knowledge of the trip reported.

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Texas hopes to introduce Smart as its new coach as early as Friday, according to the person who requested anonymity because the talks with Smart are considered private.

Patterson has zeroed in on Smart since firing Rick Barnes last weekend after 17 seasons.

Smith to coach San Diego

The University of San Diego went with a familiar face when it came to hiring a new basketball coach.

Lamont Smith, a former player with the Toreros, was introduced as Bill Grier’s replacement.

Smith is the school’s fifth men’s basketball coach since it became a Division 1 program in 1979.

Smith, 39, was New Mexico’s assistant head coach the past two seasons under Craig Neal.

Smith, a first-time head coach, played for the Toreros from 1994-99 and was a two-time captain. He was twice named the team’s defensive player of the year.

Harvey declares

Eastern Washington guard Tyler Harvey, the nation’s leading scorer this season, will skip his senior year and make himself available for the NBA draft. Harvey made the announcement in Cheney, Wash. Harvey, a redshirt junior from Torrance, Calif., averaged 23.1 points per game and led the nation in 3-point shots made while helping the Eagles to a 26-9 record and the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004. The 6-foot-4-inch, 185-pound Harvey is projected for the second round of the NBA draft . . . Maryland freshman guard Melo Trimble will return for another season with the Terrapins. Coach Mark Turgeon says Trimble made the decision after considering a possible jump to the NBA. Turgeon said Trimble discussed his options with the coach and family members before deciding that returning to Maryland was the best choice. With Trimble playing a key role, Maryland finished second in the Big Ten and won a game in the NCAA Tournament before being eliminated by West Virginia . . . Kansas swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. is leaving for the NBA draft, skipping his final three seasons of eligibility after an up-and-down freshman year. The 6-7 guard started 27 games this past season . . . Devon Turk scored 14 points to lift Loyola-Chicago over host Louisiana-Monroe, 63-62, in the College Basketball Invitational.

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Miami vs. Stanford

The Miami Hurricanes were down to their fourth point guard. They had four freshmen on the court during one stretch, and players found themselves in roles they never filled during the regular season.

And yet it’s April and banged-up, shorthanded Miami still has a game left. The Hurricanes face Stanford on Thursday at Madison Square Garden for the NIT championship.

Coach Jim Larranaga wishes he had Angel Rodriguez and a healthy Manu Lecomte to defend Cardinal guard Chasson Randle, who on Tuesday became the school’s all-time leading scorer. He would love to put 7-foot Tonye Jekiri on another Stanford senior, center Stefan Nastic.

But Larranaga can’t do any of that. Then again, his players have often performed their best when the task was most daunting.

‘‘We play much better when we are loose,’’ Larranaga said. ‘‘We like being the underdog. We like having to overcome adversity — and unfortunately we even like to overcome deficits.’’

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They rallied from down double digits for the second straight game to beat Temple in Tuesday’s semifinals. With Rodriguez already out because of a nagging wrist problem and his backup, Lecomte, hobbled by a bum knee, the Hurricanes lost Jekiri to a concussion early on. Davon Reed had also tweaked his knee during the shootaround, but he wound up playing and playing well.

When Ja'Quan Newton, the third-string point guard nursing a thumb injury of his own, needed a rest, fourth option Deandre Burnett took over. Leading scorer Sheldon McClellan also ran the point some, which the wing never did until two games ago. And freshmen Omar Sherman and James Palmer were pressed into some critical minutes.

‘‘Right now we are going to have a practice and I have to figure out which one of the guys is going to get hurt this afternoon,’’ Larranaga said Wednesday morning, only half joking at this juncture.