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Archive for March, 2009

Jim Calhoun out for Opening Round Game

March 19, 2009 Comments off

CBS Sports reported on the online/ March Madness on Demand feed that Jim Calhoun will not coach tonight’s game against Chattanooga due to illness.

2009 College Basketball Hot Seat: More Fire – Leitao, Lowe

March 16, 2009 Comments off

Virginia’s Dave Leitao has resigned as head coach of the University of Virginia Cavaliers basketball team. We know he was asked to resign. There’s a quote from ACC rookie of the year Sylven Landesberg’s dad expressing regret… St. John’s fans, of course, hope Syl will come home and play for St. John’s. We can always hope.

And I am sure that, though the administration of DePaul doesn’t want him back, the Blue Demon faithful would take him in a heartbeat over who they have now.

I see an axe hanging over North Carolina State’s Sidney Lowe, as well… Both schools are willing to spend, even in these times of belt tightening. Check out profiles of some of the hotter coaching candidates, and comment freely.

CBS Sports Bloggers’ Blogpoll, Week 6

March 16, 2009 Comments off

The honest truth is that I don’t value conference tournaments very much. The spectacle of the best teams playing a knockout tournament, NCAA bids on the line, the cream rising to the top and all, sounds nice. Great for television. But watching an SEC Tournament final with Tennessee and Mississippi State (MS State won to earn a 13 seed in the tournament)? A Temple vs. Duquesne final in the Atlantic 10 (Temple won, got an 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament)? Clemson, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh losing early in their conference tournaments?

You can’t tell me that Kansas is any worse than they were all year. Or Oklahoma has serious flaws. I have no data on this, but I think top teams sometimes just tank their conference tournaments. Not entirely; I don’t think the coach stands in front of his team and says "lay an egg out there, fellas, stink up the joint like you just had that too-spicy burrito."

But I do think that the effort is not equal for all teams. Maryland had a lot to gain by making it to the final; Clemson, a bit less. They’ve done enough, they’re in the tournament. For Pittsburgh, the same. And they get a benefit. Those teams who stop their conference run early get a few more days rest, a little less wear and tear, some time to go to class, or practice, or meet some trim, whatever it is they do with their non-practice time.

Conference championships are nice. But the NCAA tournament, doesn’t it pay more, benefit more, increase the school’s and coaches’ rep? There is much more incentive to save the legs for the "most wonderful time of the year" than there is for the conference championship.

So, as stated, I don’t value conference tournaments very much. And as such I won’t value them heavily in my rankings. To loosely paraphrase Denny Green, most of these teams are who we thought they were. You won’t see too much movement below.

Asides:

  • But I will give a little love to Louisville and Missouri. Syracuse‘s performance gets some major love as well.
  • And Clemson losing to Georgia Tech is the turd of all turd performances.
  • Wanted to give some love to Maryland, but I like all those other teams better.
  • Oh, crap. Illinois on the 5 line in the NCAA tournament… duhDUM.
  • That’s better than being in the CBI like St. John’s. Who is playing on the road at Richmond. On the road.
Rank Team Delta
1 Louisville 3
2 Pittsburgh 1
3 North Carolina 1
4 Connecticut 1
5 Oklahoma
6 Michigan St.
7 Duke 1
8 Memphis 2
9 Kansas 2
10 Villanova 1
11 Missouri 3
12 Washington
13 Wake Forest 4
14 UCLA 1
15 Purdue 4
16 Gonzaga
17 Syracuse 6
18 Illinois 1
19 Clemson 4
20 Marquette
21 Xavier 3
22 Arizona St.
23 Florida St. 1
24 Louisiana St. 3
25 West Virginia
Last week’s ballot

Dropped Out: Brigham Young (#22), New Mexico (#25).

The Most Wonderful Time…

March 15, 2009 Comments off

Need a bracket? Here’s a .pdf from CBS.

How did bracketologists predict the seeds? Check.

What’s the most likely 12 over 5 win? Vote.

Need an NCAA Schedule (without times). Figure out when you’re calling in sick.

Bubble teams have no reason to complain, according to the Dagger blog. You can also vote/ rank your “snubs” on ESPN.
the only team I feel any sadness for is Penn State, mostly because I wanted to see them play. And Auburn, I like the way they played in the SEC tournament. Arizona? Kind of a gift there… and Kentucky fans might be burning Billy Clide’s house right now.

Notes:

  • Marquette got a 6 seed? Not a little low?
  • I think I’ll be picking Binghamton over Duke. Yeah. I just said it. I reserve the right to go back on that in a day or two.
  • I’ll be watching all of the 7-10 matchups. I think Boston College isn’t all that good, California’s fun to watch but Maryland holds a place in my heart, Clemson seems a little underranked, and I hope Minnesota waxes Texas.
Categories: college basketball, Sports

2009 College Basketball Hot Seat: The Candidates, Part 1

March 15, 2009 5 comments

Coaching Candidates

see earlier posts in this series: 2009 College Basketball Coaches on the Hot Seat | 2009 Coaches On the Hot Seat: The Firing Squad Started, Gottfried + Felton

It’s part of the job, and every college coach knows. They probably fear it. No one wants to hear they they are on the hot seat. It means abuse for your family who come out to watch the games, it means the kids you recruited are going to be called “bums,” it means that every fan all of a sudden knows the Athletic Director’s name, email, and phone number, and writes impassioned (or just plain rude) screeds imploring him or her to REMOVE THE COLLEGE BASKETBALL COACH! Froth, anger, and a spinning carousel of coaching possible swirl in the local papers. National columnists write off your team for good.

Fully understand – putting together a quality basketball program and achieving the metrics of success that a coach promised in their interview – conference banners, fans in the seats, an exciting style of play that attracts students and players, an increase in “Q” score – all of that is a tough task in the face of competitive conferences. Fans are dissatisfied with anything short of a national championship, though for most teams, a lot less will do.

But sometimes, there is so little improvement or so little consistency that an Athletic Director really needs to turn the reins over to someone else. And there are different reasons, such as the abject failure of DePaul; the 5-year mostly uncompetitive streak at one of the top-10 winningest programs of all time at St John‘s (I’ve written about it here, here, here, and here, I think that counts as “ad nauseum“); the perennial hot seat and vast (ridiculous? over-marketed?) resources at Oregon; the Lute Olsen retirement at Arizona; the not meeting expectations when bringing in a major conference coach like Larry Eustachy at Southern Miss; or not meeting the big-time in everything expectations at Georgia and Alabama, where the coaches are already at home getting over the ignominy of a mid-year firing, settling into a good book between networking calls. No one wants to hear how hard the job is – the call is for results.

Interestingly, a mix of a down economy and more likely, decent success may keep the coaches at Northwestern, Florida State, Penn State, and even Rutgers and Seton Hall in place; it might even save some of the coaches who work at previously mentioned schools.

Meanwhile, some good coaching jobs are being done out in college basketball. Some coaches from the professional ranks might like a different kind of pressure and the opportunity to teach. Some retreads are looking to recapture their good name. And schools are looking to make the right kind of hire, the guy who will excite the fans, sell season tickets (in a down economy), get the buzz out to recruits, and help but a little shine on the school.

Without further ado, here are some candidates, broken up into categories:

Sexy Candidates – The [Fill In Name of Flash in the Pan Actress Here] of coaches, 2009

John Calipari

John Calipari coachI don’t know what’s got people thinking that he’s such a candidate to leave. Certainly, Memphis is not the heart of the world, but he has a fiefdom.  And he makes his win total swell in bunches every year he’s there.  He is nearly guaranteed to make the tournament every year. Maybe he likes being a huge fish in a pond (and with a schedule) of his own making, pumping up his win total and tournament achievements.

Why So Sexy: Winning. Slickness. Top Recruits. Great on defense and offense. He understands marketing.  He has handled top-level one-and-done players, sends ballers to the NBA, gets his teams to play tough.  Getting to the NCAA finals sure doesn’t hurt his name any, either.

Drawbacks: Gosh, I don’t know… vacated Final Fours/ Camby taking money, players’ off court indiscretions, more off court indiscretions, the presence of Worldwide Wes, Worldwide Wes and Milt Wagner’s employment at Memphis, the recruiting calls to Abdul Gaddy from a Memphis booster… he is perceived as too slick. Wonder why.

Good for: The team that doesn’t mind winning at all costs… and he wouldn’t come cheap, commanding one of the highest fees for coaching in the nation.

Anthony Grant

Anthony Grant VCUBeing nearly named the next head coach of Florida before Billy Donovan reconsidered has its perks. His Virginia Commonwealth team knocked off Duke in the NCAA tournament and has done well in the parity-filled Colonial Athletic Conference, but it’s the only place he’s coached.

Why So Sexy: He’s been the “it” name for SEC openings, seems to be able to recruit a little. Personally, the fact that he has single digit losses in each of his three years means the man can likely coach a little.  He has a very good “name” point guard in Eric Maynor to his credit, one who beat Duke in 2007’s NCAA Tournament.

Drawbacks: He’s only been a head coach for 3 years. His roster still includes the former coach’s players, and the former coach is Jeff Capel… Hasn’t sent players to the NBA as a head coach, but he is in the CAA.

Good for: The south; teams who want a solid, young name; a school with a solid recruiting base (he made his name as a recruiter at Florida).

Jeff Capel

Jeff CapelHaving a top-5 Oklahoma Sooner team all season – and possibly a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament – brings in accolades. As does recruiting very well, being a former Duke player, and getting Virginia Commonwealth to the NCAA Tournament. The coach that quickly turned around the scandal-marred post-Kelvin Sampson Sooners has done a great job.

Why So Sexy: See above. Winner. And he’s young. Georgia has a bit of a chubby for Capel.  He’s a former standout Dukie, so he knows successful systems from Coach K.  His dad’s a coach as well.

Drawbacks: Oklahoma’s a football school that pours money into its athletics. Would Capel leave to come back to the southeast? If the region isn’t a draw, Oklahoma can either match whatever money Capel’s offered or drive up Jeff’s price into the prohibitive range.  I can’t think of any top NBA draft picks that have come out of either school, but Blake Griffin will soon change that.  Not many negatives here.  But he’s only been to the NCAAs twice and has reached just the second round.

Good for: The team willing to spend oodles of money on a near sure-thing.

Sean Miller

Sean MillerThe Xavier Musketeers coach comes from the Pittsburgh system, and has brought Xavier to even better heights than the program has enjoyed under the other great coaches they have had. Single digit losses for three years running (only 3 losses in 08-09) and a 72.5% winning percentage. His team will soon make it 4 straight NCAA appearances in what is probably the best conference that is not SEC/ ACC/ Big East/ Big 10/ Big 12/ Pac 10. The man can coach. He recently brought in Book Richardson to help him recruit the New York City area.

Why So Sexy: He’s good. Tough defense. Deep runs in the NCAA Tournament. Good recruiting, good staff that helps with recruiting.  Has worked with a McDonald’s All American (transfer Drew Lavender).  Was a standout guard at Pittsburgh.  Worked well with a young team and a freshman point guard.  Has an Elite Eight run to his credit.

Drawbacks: It’s gonna cost ya. Xavier is a lot better than a lot of other jobs; and Miller might choose to wait for the Pittsburgh job, or he might love being in Cincinnati.

Good for: What ails ya. Besides the fact that he hasn’t been a head coach at the top levels – he elevated the level of his team instead – I don’t know why teams wouldn’t want him… but the price will be high.

Bob Knight

Bob KnightOne of the most famous names in coaching has over 900 wins. He also quit on his team in the middle of a season. Personally, I think that is low, and not the behavior of someone I would hire for a head coaching position. That is not the way to teach young men perseverance. You can google video of many of his misdeeds. But Knight’s got a interest in the sweet peach of Georgia.

Why So Sexy: Name recognition. Doing it the “right way.” Solid fundamental basketball. Tough disciplinarian. Puts fans in the seats by that name recognition.  Has had great teams, doesn’t take guff, wins with very little talent.

Drawbacks: You think this guy wants to recruit top-level athletes? Name the top athletes he’s brought in… over the last 15 years! He does things the “Knight way.” He is tough to deal with for administrators (though that can be a good thing). Mediocre results in the past 20 years. Doesn’t use the three-point shot enough. Quit on his Texas Tech team in mid season.

Good for: A school that wants things done the old-school disciplinarian way. A school with okay talent that wants to maximize it, and prefers good students to high-level talent, and isn’t thinking about a long-term solution at coach.

Mark Few

Mark FewFor nearly ten years Mark Few has been rolling at Gonzaga, overseeing an expansion of the Gonzaga brand and helping fund their conference. He is often mentioned for coaching openings, and is a friend of the Oregon athletic director Pat Kilkenny (edit: who is now the former AD, giving up the job to former football coach Mike Bellotti); rumors had Ducks men’s basketball coach Ernie Kent run out so the AD could bring in Mark Few. Now, Kent’s probably near the end of his tenure at the U of Oregon (8-22 overall) so is the time right…? Others, like Arizona, would like to make a run at Few’s coaching skills as well.

Why So Sexy: Winning. Building a mid-major program that rivals Memphis and is the goal for teams like Xavier. A near 80% win percentage. Players know his name, and he has sent a few guys to the NBA.

Drawbacks: He’s only coached at Gonzaga. His teams are often… a little soft. No final four teams. High-ranked Bulldog squads that routinely are upset by lower seeds in the tournament (see: 2002, 2004 as a 2 seed losing to a 10, 2005, 2008).  Most of those guys sent to the NBA are not there anymore, outside of Ronny Turiaf… but he does coach at Gonzaga, so he might get better talent at another school.

Good for: A team that needs a strong, experienced coach who knows how to build a whole program. A coach clearly motivated by things other than looking for the next stop, or he would have left Spokane long ago.

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens ButlerThe youthful-looking Butler Bulldog coach inherited a solid squad from now-Iowa coach Todd Lickliter. With freshmen and sophomores this year, however, he is burning up the win column. His team was picked to finish fifth in the Horizon league, and finished first. He’s not just youthful looking… he’s 32 years old…

Why So Sexy: He’s young, he’s successful, he’s building a great program. Well-spoken, he’s led an experienced team (last year) and led an inexperienced team of talented freshmen he brought in. Seriously, those freshmen were amazing, and that has to do with training and getting his point across.

Drawbacks: He’s only been a head coach for 2 years. It’s not entirely known if he can sustain strong recruiting (but the class he brought in was great). He’s been coaching at a small school, different than the frothy fishbowl of schools like Georgia.

Good for: A team who needs a young, dynamic coach and a face of the program.


Coming up: Part 2, the more likely candidates.

Sports Links: Late as Orange, Black as Widow, Green as Backs

March 13, 2009 Comments off

As I wipe the memory of the end of the St. John’s season out of my head, and think on the majesty of the coming tournament, it’s time to get back to links.

Out of the sports world, “Sexting“, the practice of teens sending racy pictures to each other via text, is one of the worst phrases I have heard in a while. Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band has a new album out, as does folksy M. Ward – I think I’ve been in a hole.

A bicyclist in Long Island caught fire and died (he was smoking as he rode).

The Jim Cramer vs. Jon Stewart smackdown was embarrasingfor Cramer. A review of “Which Side Are You On?” about labor struggles and labor law in the US. Towns known for encouraging non-whites to not let the sun go down on them while in the city limits (for fear of violence).

Recession cocktail recipes (I like the “broke and tan”).

Meanwhile, Friday Night Lights is in talks for 2 more seasons, despite low ratings.

And Scarlett Johanssen will be in the next Iron Man movie, starring as the Black Widow, one of those overly/ impossibly curvy femme fatales that comic artists like to draw, and a remnant of the Cold War… how they deal with her backstory will be interesting. There will also be Mickey Rourke playing Whiplash (who is a freaking LAME villain), Don Cheadle replacing Terrence Howard as Rhodey, and man, this is an expensive cast!

Scarlett Johanssen as Black Widow Scarlet JohansenBlack Widow comic book


On to the Sports.

+ So apparently? There was this game last night? And it was absolutely epic. 6 (SIX!!) overtimes for Syracuse to come out on top over Connecticut, 127-117. Ridiculousness. Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician has the headlines, postgame links, and Eric Devendorf getting his salad tossed (he prefers syrup) for you to enjoy.

+ More photos from that game, including Eric Devendorf jumping in the air.

+ After the 6 overtime game, Jim Calhoun is a-whinin’ again, about the strength of the league (“someone’s got to lose”), how much he doesn’t like the expanded Big East Tournament (“I don’t like it”), and how his team doesn’t close out on opponents (which is very true and why I don’t think U Conn’s going to win it all).

+ Final Four tickets might come cheap this year.

+ Attendance is down at NCAA games; no specific numbers on the Big East but the range given is a dip of 1-5%.

+ The Wall Street Joutrnal with a few sports related articles: Andrew Zimbalist on the “mad” economics of college basketball (though he doesn’t bring apparel sales and the like into the equation); and an article on the cost/ benefit ratio of college basketball coaches’ compensation, with a pictuire of Dave Leitao as a man who isn’t earning.

+ Speaking of which, the Indiana Pacers say they need some taxpayer money to keep them in the city… the Indianapolis Star’s columnist Matthew Tully gives an emphatic middle finger to that notion.

+ A profile on the new Big East Commissioner, John Marinatto.

+ How far Cleveland State has come from heady heights in 1986 ’til now. With former St. John’s guard Cedric Jackson.

+ Your guide to the dates for all dates of conference finals.

+ Chris Bosh gives you the weather – hat tip to NBA FanHouse.

2009 Basketball Hot Seat: Firings 3.12.09

March 12, 2009 Comments off

Surprisingly, DePaul’s Jerry Wainwright got a vote of confidence.

But those let go from their jobs:

Boston University logoBoston University‘sDennis Wolff (which really surprised me) – Coaching record by season; Boston Herald | Boston Globe

Conference: America East

Tenure: 15 seasons;

Record: 17-13 in 2009 + 11-5 conference, 247-197 overall at Boston

texas pan-americanTexas-Pan American‘s Tom SchuberthCoaching record by season; article

Conference: Independents

Tenure: 3 seasons

Record: 10-17 (no conference record), 42-45 at UTPA

elon logoElon‘s Ernie NestorCoaching record by season; article

Conference: Big South

Tenure: 6 seasons

Record: 11-20 in 2009 + 7-13 conference,
61-116 overall at Elon

high point logoHigh Point‘s Bart LundyCoaching record by season; article

Conference: Big South

Tenure: 6 seasons

Record: 9-21 in 2009 + 4-14 conference;
96-87 overall at High Point

Meanwhile, an uncertain future at St. John’s.