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Pittsburgh notebook

Wildcats’ Rodriguez kept his composure

By Julian Benbow
Globe Staff / March 17, 2012
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PITTSBURGH - Kansas State point guard Angel Rodriguez said he could hear the racist chants aimed at him as he shot free throws late in the first half of the Wildcats’ win over Southern Mississippi on Thursday.

“I don’t pay attention to that nonsense,’’ Rodriguez said. “Especially because Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, so we don’t need no type of papers.’’

Rodriguez, who was born in San Juan, scored 13 points, helping push the Wildcats to a matchup with Syracuse on Saturday. Afterward, officials from Southern Miss. apologized to the freshman, both in a statement as well as in person at the team’s hotel.

“I accepted it because there’s ignorant people and I know that’s not how they want to represent their university,’’ Rodriguez said. “I moved on already. I’ve got a game to focus on.’’

Kansas State coach Frank Martin applauded Southern Miss.’s administration for personally apologizing.

“What happened is unfortunate,’’ Martin said. “It’s not a representation on the University of Southern Mississippi. That, with me, was open and closed when it started. Angel handled it probably better than I would when I was 18 years of age.’’

Reaching out to Oden

After Greg Oden’s third microfracture surgery, it was almost inevitable the Portland Trail Blazers would part ways with the player they chose with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft. When Oden was waived yesterday, Ohio State coach Thad Matta reached out to the player who helped lead the Buckeyes to the national title game in his only season in Columbus.

“I still say he led us to the national championship game with one hand,’’ Matta said. “When he left Ohio State, I felt like he was going to be one of the better NBA centers of all time.’’

Because of his size (7 feet) and skill level as both a scorer and shot-blocker, the expectation was that Oden would eventually become a player the Trail Blazers could build around. But Oden played just 82 games in four seasons.

“The hard part is all you want Greg to do is get healthy,’’ Matta said. “It’s been maybe one of the most unfortunate things . . . Hopefully for his sake, he can get healthy and keep his spirits up, because Greg is a prideful kid. I know he loved the game of basketball and wants to play again.’’

Stockton vs. Stockton

Now that David Stockton is a redshirt sophomore at Gonzaga and his Hall of Fame father, John, is retired from the Utah Jazz, David thinks he can beat him one-on-one.

“I find that hard to believe,’’ said Gonzaga coach Mark Few.

David Stockton has played in all 32 games this season for the Bulldogs, and even though he’s not trying to walk in the giant footprints his father left at Gonzaga more than 20 years ago, Few said there’s a resemblance.

“David shares a lot of qualities with John,’’ Few said. “David is as competitive a guy as we have. He’s got the great vision. He has the long arms, big hands. Some of the mannerisms.’’

John Stockton is ever-present around the program and his wisdom is welcome.

“He was the first to come through,’’ said Few. “He’s the one that kind of set the standard for how you act, how you prepare, how you handle success.’’

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