It looks like Mike Krzyzewski might not be done adding championships to his impressive resume and we are not talking about Duke. After insisting that he was done coaching the national team it appears that Krzyzewski is now considering a return to Team USA. With the 2014 World Championships in Madrid just around the corner the Team USA brass will need to start assembling a team (around LeBron) fairly soon and the logical first step would be getting a coach who the players would decide to play for. With his success on both the college and international level as well as his ability to get along with several key players Krzyzewski would appear to be the obvious choice. Now that Krzyzewski is apparently pointing toward the next cycle of international play it seems reasonable to expect him to stay at Duke until that period is complete.
With how Duke was saved avoided any potential NCAA sanctions as the result of the Lance Thomas jewelry controversy when both Thomas and the jeweler refused to talk with the NCAA we are a little surprised that Ben McLemore has come out and said that he would talk with the NCAA about allegations by his AAU coach than a runner had paid the coach $10,000 to steer McLemore to certain agents. This is not to necessarily say that McLemore had anything to do with it, have any knowledge of it, or that Kansas could be implicated in any way. In fact, based on what we have heard we doubt that any of those are true, but we do not see what McLemore or Kansas have to directly gain by having McLemore talk although as it stands the NCAA could penalize Kansas because the payment would have made McLemore ineligible so perhaps McLemore thinks he could protect Kansas by clearing his name by talking to the NCAA.
After several months of bickering about the terms of his contract buyout Steve Alford and New Mexico have agreed in principle to terms with Alford paying $300,000 in cash and forgoing $325,000 in bonuses that Alford would have been set to receive. For their part UCLA raised some objection to the e-mail release particularly the figure of $625,000 being used since Alford had already agreed to forgo the bonus money. In reality it appears that Alford is set to pay $300,000 instead of the $1 million the school was seeking and the $200,00 that Alford intiailly offered to pay them. As is often the case both sides will try to claim victory, but in reality the best thing may be for two sides to reach a deal before this thing gets any more complicated.
Kansas State fans are going to have a completely different roster next season having lost three players to graduation and three players to transfer, but they are bringing in some new talent including five recruits and now a pair of transfers. The latest addition is Brandon Bolden, who is transferring from Georgetown to Kansas State. Bolden only played in four games as a freshman so we would not expect him to contribute immediately in Manhattan, but there are not many 6’10” centers floating around with three years of eligibility remaining so it could be a productive pick-up in the long run for the Wildcats. So although next season might end up being a rough transition year for Kansas State they should be rebounding relatively soon.
Lipscomb, the team best known for going 12-18, but managing to beat Florida Gulf Coast twice last season, named Casey Alexander as its new head coach on Saturday to replaces Scott Sanderson, who was 222-201 in 14 seasons, but saw his team’s play drop off significantly culminating in last season’s 12-18 mark. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the hire is that Alexander left Stetson, which finished 11-7 in the Atlantic Sun, to take over at Lipscomb, which finished at 7-11 in the Atlantic Sun. We have no idea how well-financed those two athletic departments are, but we would expect that Lipscomb pays quite a bit more for Alexander to take a step down like that.
Eric Moyer is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun Conference and the Southern Conference. You can find him on Twitter @EricDMoyer.
1,200 Wins. ETSU needed a second-half rally to earn the 1200th win in program history. Sitting on 1,199 wins, the Bucs faced UNF for the first time since being eliminated by the Ospreys in the semifinals of the 2011 A-Sun Championship. UNF jumped out to a 15-point first-half advantage and held ETSU to 31% shooting. Adam Sollazzo scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half and hit the game-winning free throw with 2.4 seconds remaining
Dramatic Finishes. Monday featured three dramatic finishes. In addition to ETSU’s second-half comeback at UNF, a pair of A-Sun contests needed overtime to determine a winner. Jacksonville scored its first win of the conference season after withstanding a tying by USC Upstate at the end of regulation and beat the Spartans in the extra session. The second overtime thriller featured a game-winning three-pointer by Lipscomb’s Damarius Smith in the waning seconds lifting the Bison past Stetson and into a fourth-place tie in the A-Sun race.
Coaching Battle. After 16 years seated next to each other on the Belmont bench, Rick Byrd and Casey Alexander met as opponents when Byrd’s Belmont welcomed Alexander’s Stetson Hatters to the Curb Event Center. The Hatters showed they have quickly picked up the trademark Belmont offense hitting 15 3-pointers, the most ever by an opponent in Curb Event Center history. The Bruins, who trailed 31-29 at halftime, dispatched the Hatters with a 55-point second half, winning 84-71.
Kerron Johnson (ball) Leads A Talented Belmont Attack
Belmont (13-6, Previous Ranking: 1): Despite a surprising home stumble against rival Lipscomb, the Bruins remain atop the Power Rankings after handling FGCU and Stetson. In the 95-53 win against FGCU, the Bruins hit 14 3-pointers and recorded 27 assists on 35 baskets. In wins against the Hatters and Eagles, the Bruins shot a combined 54.5 percent from the floor. Read the rest of this entry »
KSU Suspends Cummings: In a move that sent shock waves through the league, rookie head coach LewisPreston announced Tuesday that he had indefinitely suspended Markeith Cummings for “conduct detrimental to the team.” The 6’7” Cummings led the A-Sun in scoring last season and was named the league’s preseason POY. Preston would not provide specific details in our interview with him the day after the announcement, but suspending Cummings is a clear sign that Preston has a long-term vision for building his program that he will not allow to be held hostage by any player – no matter how talented. For more on this, check out our Q&A with Preston at the end of this post.
Respectable Showings, But No Signature Wins: While a number of teams acquitted themselves well in matchups with teams from higher-RPI conferences over the season’s first week, a headline-grabbing upset eluded the A-Sun. Obviously, the closest was Belmont’s 77-76 loss to No. 6 Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Bruins nearly overcame a 16-point second-half deficit, but Andre Dawkins’ cold-blooded three-pointer with 16 seconds remaining sealed it. On the same night, Florida Gulf Coast and first-year coach Andy Enfield dropped a one-point decision at TCU, East Tennessee State led for much of the first half before cold shooting (29 percent) doomed them in an 11-point loss at Virginia Tech, and Jacksonville overcame a big early deficit to get back in the game and play Florida State to a standstill over the final 30 minutes in a 12-point defeat.
Belmont Acquitted Itself Well But Couldn't Pull Off the Upset (Belmont Sports)
Stetson’s Newcomers Make Statement: When Casey Alexander was hired last spring at Stetson, league observers predicted the longtime Belmont assistant would quickly energize the long-floundering program. So far, so good: Alexander got the Hatters off to a 2-0 start with solid wins over Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M. (The “That-Can’t-Be-Right” nugget of the week: The 2-0 start was the first for Stetson since 19-friggin’-52. Right after Dwight Eisenhower was elected president. Seriously.) Stetson is benefitting from more than just a new face on the bench. Adam Pegg, a 6’9” transfer from Delaware, was named A-Sun Newcomer of the Week after averaging 14.5 points in the two victories.
Quote of the Week: “When your team can come into Cameron Indoor Stadium and make that kind of a comeback… and almost win the game, then as I just told (the players), we’re no worse a team because we lost by one than we would have been had we won. We’d have been a lot happier if we had won by won, but the team’s the same. The two points are nothing.” -Belmont coach Rick Byrd
Will Rothschild is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun. You can find him on Twitter at @warothschild.
Reader’s Take I
Belmont’s Last Dance In The A-Sun: In May, realignment hit the conference when it was announced that Belmont will join the Ohio Valley Conference starting in the 2012-13 season, meaning this campaign will mark the Bruins’ A-Sun swan song. The repeal of a stipulation requiring every OVC program to field a football team (which Belmont doesn’t have) appeared to be the final hurdle. Belmont’s new home is a step up in terms of competition and is more favorable for its travel schedule. As the Bruins have represented the Atlantic Sun in the NCAA Tournament four of the last six seasons, a new leader will have to rise.
Mick Hedgepeth Leads Belmont In Its Final Season As A Member Of The Atlantic Sun. (Getty Images)
New Coaches To Watch: On paper, the A-Sun’s three first-year coaches look to be as good a collective group as has ever entered the conference. How they deliver – and how quickly – both on the court and in recruiting will be worth watching. All three – Casey Alexander at Stetson, AndyEnfield at Florida Gulf Coast, and LewisPreston at Kennesaw State – inherit programs that lost 20 or more games last season. All three also are first-time head coaches who were highly-regarded assistants at successful programs: Alexander at Belmont, Enfield at Florida State, and Preston at Notre Dame, Florida (where he was on the staff of the repeat title teams in ’06 and ’07) and Penn State.
ETSU Hopes To Stay Afloat: In eight seasons in Johnson City, coach Murray Bartow has taken the Bucs to three NCAA Tournaments while averaging just under 20 wins per season and finishing third or better in the standings five times. Most recently, the Bucs enjoyed a 24-win campaign in 2010-11, earning a spot in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament and advancing to the semifinals of that event, marking the first time in school history the team had captured two postseason victories in the same season. During the regular season, the Bucs enjoyed their highest RPI ranking since 2004, and won road games against quality opponents such as Mississippi State and Dayton. But to keep ETSU near the top of the A-Sun this year will require Bartow to do one of his best jobs. Gone are POY Mike Smith and two other standouts who combined to average more than 42 points per game, a whopping 60 percent of ETSU’s offensive production. Bartow welcomes in another highly-regarded recruiting class and welcomes back 6’4″ forward Tommy Hubbard, a major talent who missed all but four games last season with an injury. How well Hubbard regains his old form and meshes with the talented newcomers will determine whether this proud program maintains its traditional perch among the top three or gets overtaken by one of several improving programs.
Bruins Poised For A Cinderella Run: For what has become one of the best mid-major programs in the country, the only thing missing on Belmont’s“To Do” list is a run in the NCAA Tournament. After nearly knocking off Duke in 2008, the 13th-seeded Bruins lost to four-seed Wisconsin last March and are seeking their fifth NCAA tournament trip in the past seven seasons. So Belmont is well past any “We’re just glad to be here” feelings about making it to the Dance. With four starters and all but two of its 11-player rotation back from a 30-5 (19-1 A-Sun) team, the Bruins have the look of a team that could become a national darling in March.