Dave Gavitt dies; founder of Big East, ex-Celts exec

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Dave Gavitt dies; founder of Big East, ex-Celts exec

Associated Press

Dave Gavitt had an impact on theworld of basketball. From a career as a successful coach, to changingthe face of college sports, to introducing the Olympics to a Dream Team,to running the Boston Celtics, Gavitt's touch was everywhere.His death Friday night after a longillness was confirmed by his family Saturday. He died in a hospitalnear his hometown of Rumford, R.I. He was 73.Gavitt coached Providence to the NCAAtournament five times, including the Final Four in 1973. He was thedriving force behind the formation of the Big East Conference and wasits first commissioner. He was selected to coach the U.S. Olympic teamin 1980, but the United States boycotted the Moscow Games. Gavitt waspresident of USA Basketball and oversaw the introduction of NBA playersonto the U.S. Olympic roster, including the Dream Team at the 1992Games."He was not only a great basketballcoach and organizer of the Big East but he was a great, great statesmanfor basketball, college and international," former St. John's coach andfellow Naismith Hall of Famer Lou Carnesecca said Saturday.Gavitt was the Big East'scommissioner from 1979 until 1990. He served on the NCAA's Division IBasketball Committee from 1980-84 and was its chairman from 1982-84when the tournament expanded to 64 teams and the first of its TVcontracts with CBS was negotiated.When he left the Big East, Gavittjoined the Boston Celtics front office as a vice president, succeedingRed Auerbach in running the franchise. He was fired in 1994.Gavitt served as chairman of theBasketball Hall of Fame, to which he was inducted in 2006. He waspresident of the NCAA Foundation and worked as tournament director ofthe Maui Invitational from 2005 until 2009.His biggest impact, however, was in the lives he affected during his decades in basketball."While he was changing the face ofcollege basketball with the Big East and NCAA Selection Committee, hewas still able to influence so many, including me personally,"Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said Saturday. "He never didn't have timeto talk about the game. His legacy will always include his kindness aswell as his greatness. He will be greatly, greatly missed."Born Oct. 26, 1937, in Westerly,R.I., Gavitt played basketball and baseball at Dartmouth, graduatingfrom the Ivy League school in 1959. He was an assistant coach to JoeMullaney at Providence for two years before starting his head coachingcareer in 1967 at Dartmouth, where he was 18-33 in two seasons.He succeeded Mullaney at Providencein 1969 and led the Friars to a 209-84 record over 10 seasons for a.713 winning percentage that is still the best in school history. HisFinal Four team in 1973 featured Ernie DiGregorio and Marvin Barnes. Hebecame the school's athletic director in 1971.The Big East formed in 1979, withProvidence, Georgetown, Syracuse, St. John's, Seton Hall, BostonCollege and Connecticut the original members. Villanova joined the nextyear. One of Gavitt's biggest moves was to have the new league becomeworking partners right away with another new entity, ESPN."That ESPN came along when we did was very fortunate for us, and how we worked together benefited both tremendously," Gavitt said.He also moved the conferencepostseason tournament to New York's Madison Square Garden, where it hasplayed before sellout crowds since 1983. The conference's high pointcame in 1985, when it became the only league to have three teams in theFinal Four."We were so fortunate in so manyways at the outset," Gavitt said in 2006. "We put together a solidfoundation with a good plan, but we were fortunate to have four coacheswho were going to be at their schools for a long time in John Thompson,Louie Carnesecca, Jimmy Boeheim and Rollie Massimino, and having themstay in place was very significant."On the day Gavitt died the news insports was about Big East members Pittsburgh and Syracuse possiblyleaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference as the landscape of collegesports faced its biggest change in decades."It is especially sad, consideringtoday is certainly one of those days, with everything in the news aboutour league, I would love nothing more than to call him and ask himsimply, What do you think and what should we do?' " Calhoun said."Sadly, we cannot do that."Gavitt led USA Basketball from itsdays of a strictly amateur organization to one that would bring the NBAand its players to a worldwide stage every four years starting with the1992 Barcelona Olympics. Gavitt knew he needed the NBA to be a partnerwith USA Basketball."I wanted USA Basketball to be the28th NBA team, outside the family," Gavitt said. "I wanted NBAProperties, who are so good at what they do, to take our mark andrepresent us as our licensee and to help us get sponsorship."Gavitt's business acumen drew as much praise as his coaching."The rest of the world has learnedmuch from Dave Gavitt about basketball and he has taught us much morethan just on the court," said Alexander Gomelsky, coach of the SovietUnion's 1988 gold medal team. "He understands basketball as a businessand has shown many countries the right way to do things. Everybodystudies this because it is a fantastic business."Mike Tranghese was an assistant toGavitt at the Big East from the start and he succeeded him ascommissioner, retiring from that position in 2009."I wish I had the ability toproperly express my feelings," Tranghese said Saturday. "We lost agiant. He helped so many people in the game of basketball and had sucha profound influence . . . I think he's the most influentialcommissioner in the history of college athletics and at the same timewas a Hall of Fame basketball coach who quit at age of 40 to spend timewith his family. He had the ability to get things done and above allthat he was your friend and it wasn't just to the powerful people."Gavitt is survived by his wife, Julie, and two sons, including Dan, an assistant commissioner with the Big East.

Smart: 'We can’t just depend on Isaiah to save us'

Smart: 'We can’t just depend on Isaiah to save us'

TORONTO – Marcus Smart and the Boston Celtics aren’t all that different than most Celtics fans.

When the fourth quarter rolls around, they too take a glance at their watches and think … it’s Isaiah Thomas Time.

He was on the floor in the decisive fourth quarter for the Celtics, but you would not have known it by his inability to do what he has done for so much of this season which is dominate play.

And with Thomas unable to take over in the fourth like he’s accustomed to doing, the end result was an all-too-predictable night of late-game struggles as the Toronto Raptors pulled away for a 107-97 win.

Thomas still led the Celtics with 20 points, although only four – that’s almost seven below his league-leading average - came in the fourth quarter.

“Every time I came off a pick, they had two or three guys on me,” Thomas said. “Their point of emphasis was probably to stop me in the fourth quarter and they did a good job of that. They played harder than us in the second half.”

Boston led by as many as 17 points in the first half with solid contributions coming from several players.

But more important, they held their own on the boards while not allowing Toronto many second or third-shot opportunities.

That all changed in the second half.

Toronto became more aggressive defensively, taking away the air space of seemingly every Celtics shooter.

And offensively, DeRozan got hot and when the Celtics took away his drives, he found teammates open for shots that were relatively wide open looks due to them collapsing to help out on DeRozan who led all players with 43 points on 15-for-28 shooting.

Smart had 19 points off the bench on 6-for-15 shooting. Jae Crowder also had 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting for Boston (37-21). And then there was Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown chipping in with 13 points.

Despite their numbers, there was sense that Thomas was getting very little help offensively.

And when you combine that with the team’s overall struggles to play solid defense and rebound the ball, it put the Celtics in a predicament where the clearest path towards victory would once again be Thomas coming through in the fourth quarter.

For those watching the game on CSN, it was an ideal time for Thomas to do what we’ve seen him do time and time again.

But there was a problem.

Apparently too many of his teammates did their share of Thomas-watching down the stretch as well.

“We can’t just depend on Isaiah to save us,” Smart said. “He needs help; other guys need to step up and relieve Isaiah. When he does get that shot, he’s open. They have to watch out for us. We can’t just put it all on Isaiah’s shoulders. Sometimes we get caught doing that instead of helping Isaiah.”

Stars, studs and duds: Things get a bit heated between Celtics and Raptors

Stars, studs and duds: Things get a bit heated between Celtics and Raptors

TORONTO – While no one would go so far as to say that the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors have a full-fledged rivalry, things got a bit testy on Friday.

No play better exemplified this than the Isaiah Thomas drive to the basket in the second quarter that was initially ruled a foul by DeMarre Carroll only to be upgraded to a flagrant-one penalty.

And then less than a minute later, Thomas was called for a flagrant-one penalty when he made contact with DeMar DeRozan.

Thomas was clearly upset with the Celtics losing 107-97, a defeat that included a slew of plays that bothered Thomas but none more than the flagrant foul committed by Carroll.

“It was intentional, did you see it?” Thomas said when asked about it afterwards. “That’s not a basketball play by any means. Guys who aren’t factors in games do that; it is what it is. That was not a basketball play whatsoever.”

That play added to what had been a night of struggles for Thomas who finished with 20 points which barely kept his streak of games with 20 or more points alive which now stands at a franchise-record 42 games.

“We gave this game away. We had it,” Thomas said.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday night’s game.

 

STARS

DeMar DeRozan

He was an All-Star starter this season, and played like one on a night when he needed to carry and even heavier scoring load than usual with Kyle Lowry (right wrist) a last-minute scratch from the starting lineup. DeRozan led all scorers with 43 points, doing so on an efficient 15-for-28 shooting in addition to dishing out five assists and grabbing five rebounds.

 

STUDS

P.J. Tucker

The numbers don’t begin to speak to the impact that Tucker made on this game. His defense, switching and physical play were all factors that contributed heavily to the win. In his first game as a Raptor, he had a near double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds.

Jaylen Brown

You look around and he was the only rookie for either team to get on the floor, let alone make an impact. Brown did a lot of good things for the Celtics, scoring 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting.

Serge Ibaka

Well it looks like the Raptors got the O-K-C Ibaka and not the one who struggled mightily in Orlando. He had 15 points in his Raptors debut on 7-for-12 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds.

Jae Crowder

After being in a shooting funk for most of this month, Crowder delivered a strong performance on Friday with 19 points on 6-for-12 shooting which included 4-for-9 on 3’s.

 

DUDS

Celtics’ second-half defense

This was not one of Boston’s finer moments, as the Raptors turned up the intensity at both ends of the floor and the Celtics never were able to match it. Toronto shot 52.4 percent in the second half, outscored Boston 26-12 on points in the paint and held a 12-5 advantage in second-chance points while keeping the Celtics scoreless in the second half in fast-break points.