Morning Five: 05.06.11 EditionPosted by rtmsf on May 6th, 2011
- Clearly the massive news of Thursday, and really, the entire offseason thus far, was the announcement that longtime Maryland coach and ACC curmudgeon-in-charge, Gary Williams, is retiring. We covered his career impact in our story on him earlier this morning, but our lasting memory of his body of work will be how for a period from the late 90s to the early oos, from Steve Francis to Juan Dixon, from Joe Smith to Lonny Baxter, he made Maryland basketball must-watch television. Along with that, the Duke vs. Maryland battles were at the time the best rivalry games in the entire game. Here’s some of the reverent commentary on Williams’ retirement from around the web: Mike DeCourcy, Seth Davis, John Feinstein. Happy trails, Gary — you will be missed.
- As for the future of the Maryland program, we have a prevailing sense that this could go either way. The resources, fan support and conference affiliation in the basketball-centric ACC are all major positives, leading some to argue that the Terrapin head coaching job is one of the top 15 or so in the country. We agree with that sentiment, but the hire will need to be the right one — the DC area is a fertile recruiting base, but Williams ran a clean program that stayed away from much of the AAU nonsense that passes as prep basketball these days. Whoever the new coach is will need to find a way to circumvent the agents, runners and hustlers with their hands out on the east coast playgrounds; or, like Williams, find enough diamonds in the rough whom he can coach up. No easy task in a league where you have to deal with Duke, Carolina and a group of promising young coaches elsewhere. Some early names being thrown around for the job include Notre Dame’s Mike Brey, Villanova’s Jay Wright, Arizona’s Sean Miller, and several others. Of that group, Brey, from the DC area, makes the most sense; but could Terp fans tolerate having a former Dookie as their head coach?
- Not so fast on everybody’s favorite March Madness play-by-play guy leaving CBS. According to the New York Daily News, Gus Johnson has an offer on the table from Fox to do NFL and Pac-12 games next year, but the Blinking Eye Network will have up to a week to match the offer and retain one of the best assets it has for its NCAA Tournament coverage. Seriously, we can’t believe that CBS wouldn’t open their checkbooks for this guy — the anticipation among anybody under 45 years old when a “Gus game” is scheduled is off the charts, especially when it involves two evenly-matched teams. Make it happen, Sean McManus.
- Last year’s offseason was headlined by seemingly constant chatter about conference realignment, and with the new television deal that the Pac-12 signed this week for $3 billion over twelve years, we now see more clearly what all the fuss was about. Utah joins the reconfigured conference on July 1 of this year, and their TV windfall will begin soon thereafter, with expected payouts in successive years of $2M (2012), $10.5M (2013), $15.75M (2014), and $21M (2015). The Utes made a relatively paltry $1.2M last year as a member of the Mountain West; in four years, they will have vigupled it (go ahead, look that one up). Simply… amazing.
- There was some interesting transfer news on Thursday, with two notable players from NCAA Tournament teams possibly losing a key contributor. First, UConn wing Jamal Coombs-McDaniel has decided to leave the Husky program to seek more playing time elsewhere. The sophomore forward averaged 5/3 in just over sixteen minutes of action last season, but after a three-game stretch in mid-February where he scored 64 points, he only contributed 62 more the entire rest of the season (15 games). He was also arrested for marijuana possession two weeks ago, so perhaps a fresh start somewhere else is best for everyone. The other big transfer news yesterday came from George Mason, perhaps still reeling a little from the loss of longtime coach Jim Larranaga last month. Luke Hancock, the hero of Mason’s second round win over Villanova, has requested permission to talk to other schools about transferring. He averaged 11/4/4 APG last year in a promising sophomore campaign, and it appears that new head coach Paul Hewitt will have his work cut out to get him back to Fairfax next season.