An Early Look at Frank Martin’s Replacement Possibilities at K-State

Posted by dnspewak on March 27th, 2012

We’re all mystified right now as to why Frank Martin just left a passionate hoops school behind in favor of one of the worst power conference jobs in college basketball, but it’s a done deal and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Martin may have had a strained relationship with his athletic director at Kansas State, but why choose South Carolina? It’s a question we really can’t answer until Martin himself speaks publicly about the matter. Until then, let’s turn our focus back to Manhattan. Coaching searches are never easy to predict, but we’ll go ahead and give you an early look at some logical candidates for Kansas State. Be warned, please: we have no insider information and have no clue what direction KSU will go with this search. We’re simply putting together a list of coaches that might make sense for the position. And one last note: Gregg Marshall, the most logical geographical candidate as the head coach at Wichita State, is not included in the list because it appears he has no interest in leaving the Shockers. The list of potential candidates, in no particular order:

Everyone Waits To Hear Frank Martin's Explanation For the Move

  • Tim Jankovich, Illinois State: Normally, a coach with Jankovich’s resume would not get any consideration at a Big 12 school. In five years at Illinois State, he has never reached the NCAA Tournament. He’s an intriguing name at Kansas State for a few reasons, though. For starters, he spent three years as a productive starting point guard at Kansas State from 1979 to 1982, and he later served as an assistant during the mid-80s. After that, he worked at Illinois and Kansas for Bill Self, one of the better tutors in college basketball right now. And despite the lack of an NCAA bid at Illinois State, he has made the NIT four times and has consistently finished near the top of the Missouri Valley Conference. His Redbirds have reached the MVC title game three times, twice losing in overtime. Simply put, he’s been very, very close to that elusive NCAA bid, and his program’s relative success speaks for itself. Read the rest of this entry »
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Update On The Illinois Coaching Search

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on March 27th, 2012

It has been over two weeks since Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas let go of Bruce Weber. Thomas continued to make the right moves after the firing by pursuing VCU’s Shaka Smart with a huge offer last week.  Reports indicated that the offer on the table was $2.5 million per year, which certainly sent the message that Illinois is committed to winning, at least from a monetary perspective. ESPN analysts such as Jay Bilas have been raving about the Illinois gig being one of the top coaching jobs in the country. Everything was in place, but Smart declined the offer. After Shaka Smart, reports were floating around that Brad Stevens was another potential target for the job but he quickly squashed any such rumors. Other coaches that have denied interest in the job include Alabama’s Anthony Grant and Wichita State’s Greg Marshall so any move to Illinois may be out of question right now. Kansas State’s Frank Martin has expressed interest to leave Manhattan, wound up in South Carolina instead.  So where does Illinois go now? The Illini faithful are a little confused because money is not the issue anymore. The athletic department wants to hire the best coach available and will spend a decent amount of change, but will the other good candidates make the move?

Ohio's John Groce may be the next Head Coach of Illinois. (TimesUnion)

Before we move onto the next list of candidates, it is worth examining if Illinois is still a top job after missing the tournament three out of the past five seasons. Historically, since the Lou Henson era started in Champaign, Illinois has been a competitive program in the college basketball landscape. Regularly competing for Big Ten championships, a couple of Final Four appearances and overall an exciting brand of basketball has transformed Illinois into a legit Big Ten program. The potential recruiting pipeline through Chicago is also an impressive factor for coaches to consider due to the heavy pool of talent flowing through. But in a “what have you done for me lately?” world, Illinois is probably the sixth, maybe even the seventh best job in the B1G, right now – after Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana and Michigan. Sure, Indiana has been horrible during Crean’s first three seasons, but to quote him again, “it is Indiana.” Michigan is on the upswing with a top recruiting class coming to Ann Arbor and a B1G regular season championship. Purdue is only gearing up for better seasons under Matt Painter. Illinois’ potential over the next 3-4 seasons is not as good as the top five or six teams. Prospective coaches also realize that you can’t just recruit Chicago and expect to cruise in this conference because you need to bring your A-game to the white board. B1G hosts the best basketball minds in the country, specifically from the ones mentioned as the top six teams right now.

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SEC Morning Five: 03.23.12 Edition

Posted by Brian Joyce on March 23rd, 2012

  1. The coaching search for the vacant Mississippi State job is moving along, even if some of the candidates are still coaching in postseason tournaments. This angered some athletic directors as was pointed out in the SEC Morning Five on Wednesday. While Murray State athletic director Allen Ward didn’t agree with tactics to recruit current Racers’ head coach Steve Prohm, Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin said it is common practice for athletic departments to hire search firms to aid in the process. “They can do a lot of groundwork and make connections, especially in a situation where people are playing and you want to be respectful but you also want to put feelers out,”Stricklin said regarding search firms. “I think, sometimes, especially in basketball, that’s helpful.” Candidates being mentioned for the Bulldogs job include Prohm, John Groce (Ohio coach), Chris Collins (Duke assistant coach), Joe Dooley (Kansas assistant coach), Kenny Payne (Kentucky assistant coach) and Frank Martin (Kansas State coach).
  2. As was also pointed out in Wednesday’s SEC Morning Five, Kentucky coach John Calipari has reiterated over and over that he will not use revenge as a motivation factor in the Wildcats’ upcoming game against Indiana. However, former Kentucky guard Cameron Mills points out that while coaches might say all the right things, but “the players are not robots. They are human beings.” Mills said, “nine times out of 10, the coach is saying (publicly) the opposite of what you’re feeling and saying privately.” And he would know a thing or two about  the revenge factor. Mills was on the court (and hit a HUGE shot) in the 1998 NCAA Tournament against Duke that avenged a 1992 loss to the Blue Devils in the Elite Eight. Both Indiana and Kentucky will play hard — it’s the NCAA Tournament. But we all know that the Wildcats have the one point loss in Bloomington in the back of their minds.
  3. There were four key factors in Kentucky’s loss to Indiana that led to the Cats’ demise. Kentucky did not take good care of the basketball (17 turnovers), did not guard the three point shot (Indiana was 9-15), did not limit fouls (Anthony Davis sat on the bench in foul trouble contributing just six points in 24 minutes of play) and did not hit free throws when it mattered most (10-17 from the line). As Calipari said, “that was four months ago,” and both teams look much different in March than they did on December 10th of last year.
  4. Florida freshman Bradley Beal didn’t become a good rebounder from simply always being in the right place at the right time. Some of what motivated Beal was seeing the Gators’ frontcourt players getting outhustled earlier in the year. “I stood around and watched Pat (Young) and all those guys get beat up down there, and I didn’t even try to go after the ball,” Beal said. “I really learned my lesson from that and I believe my rebounding has helped a lot. That’s just another way of me contributing.” And Beal has since made rebounding a priority. He is currently averaging 6.7 rebounds per game, and a cool 10 rebounds per game in the tournament.
  5. Sophomore guard Scottie Wilbekin has been one of the keys in Florida’s recent success. He received playing time for his commitment on the defensive end, but it’s his progress on the other end of the court that has teammates taking notice. “He’s a great defender, but his offense is getting better and better,” said junior Kenny Boynton. Wilbekin isn’t lighting up opposing teams with double digit games, but he has hit a three pointer in each of his last four games. The Gators need all of the defense they can get, but now coach Billy Donovan can place Wilbekin in the game without feeling like he is a liability on the offensive end.
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ACC Morning Five: 01.09.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 9th, 2012

  1. Washington Post: John Feinstein takes a look at the ACC’s mediocrity since the additions of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College — despite a 9-0 vote against it from the basketball coaches — in 2004. Since then, the league has slowly become a two-team battle between Duke and North Carolina. Mike Krzyzewski faults the way the expansion was handled because it killed the round-robin for a system that benefits the same teams every year by having fixed playing partners (i.e., it’s fine for Duke and North Carolina because they get tons of exposure already and play each other twice, but Boston College plays Virginia Tech and Miami each year, which isn’t nearly as valuable).
  2. Fayetteville Observer: Bret Strelow takes a look at the Duke coaching staff, anchored by three guards who all played together in Durham nearly two decades ago. Jeff Capel has already been a head coach, but there’s little doubt that Steve Wojciechowski or Chris Collins would struggle to find a head job if they looked. The three also have a record of dealing with adversity at Duke, having played in the infamous 1994-95 season when Coach K took most of the year off to recover from back surgery and the Blue Devils finished under .500. Now they’re trying to help a team that’s facing some recent adversity, albeit a whole lot less, achieve its potential this season.
  3. Orlando Sentinel: Apparently Florida State felt “optimistic” going into its ACC opener against Clemson. Well, as you probably know, it’s going to be tough to be optimistic coming out of the game now. The Seminoles allowed nearly 80 points and lost by a final deficit of 20 to the Tigers, not exactly the start they were looking for. Now, with no real marquee wins and six losses already, Florida State is almost certainly on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. The Seminoles need to turn things around very quickly.
  4. Duke Basketball Report: Strelow mentioned it briefly in his article above, but Al Featherston also talks about the new positioning of Jeff Capel on Duke‘s bench. Capel now sits in the middle of the bench where he can talk to players as they come out or to try to get a feel for the team’s sideline energy. Two players I expect he’ll talk to frequently are Tyler Thornton and Quinn Cook, who Coach K has running the point together currently to help Seth Curry move off the ball where he excels. As the year goes on, expect Cook to see more and more time and Thornton to be used primarily as a spark plug at crucial junctures.
  5. Charlotte Observer: The ACC is transitioning both on the bench and on the court. The conference has multiple new coaches for the second time in as many years, while freshman play an important role on most teams trying to replace the departed stars. That transition has shown so far in the loss column, where ACC teams combined to lose an astonishing 50 non-conference games coming out of the weekend.
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Who Will Succeed Coach K At Duke?

Posted by nvr1983 on May 12th, 2011

Over the weekend, Duke announced that recently fired Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel had been selected to be its newest assistant coach. The announcement itself was noteworthy as Capel, who just two years ago was considered one of the hottest names in coaching, had fallen to the point where he was forced to take an assistant coaching position. The question of how Capel had fallen so quickly could be answered in several ways (most notably the departure of Blake Griffin and the disappointing performances of McDonald’s All-Americans Willie Warren and Tiny Gallon), but remains mysterious.

Capel will be returning to Duke (Credit: Bryan Terry/NewsOk.com)

Capel’s return to Durham also raises the more intriguing question of who is next in line to succeed Mike Krzyzewski when he eventually decides to retire, a possibility that was made more clear recently with the retirement of Gary Williams, one of his chief rivals in the ACC at nearly the same age as Krzyzewski. The first question is whether the Duke administration will want to pursue an internal candidate or would look at outsiders. We imagine that Krzyzewski would make a strong push to hire an internal candidate or at least someone with strong ties to the program, but the performance of most of the disciples from his coaching tree has been underwhelming to put it lightly. There have been a number of prominent head coaches (Mike Brey, Tommy Amaker, Johnny Dawkins, Quin Synder, and Capel) who have coached under Krzyzewski during his time at Duke as well as two others serving as associates alongside Capel (Steve Wojciehowski and Chris Collins).

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The Toe: Diagnosis, Please

Posted by jstevrtc on January 11th, 2011

One month and one week ago, Duke beat Butler, 82-70. Scanning Duke’s schedule, it looks like just another Blue Devil win, part of their perfect campaign up to this point. Just about every follower of college basketball knows, however, that that was the day we started the clock on Toe Watch 2010-11. It was the game in which Kyrie Irving sustained that bizarre injury to his right big toe on what looked like a routine drive to the basket that he quickly decided against making when pain consumed his foot.

Nobody Wanted To See This.

Just as strange as the actual injury, though, has been the mystery surrounding it. We’re not talking about the difference between how benign it looked at the time and how devastating it apparently is. We’re talking about…well, that’s the problem. None of us knows what we’re talking about. It happened 38 days ago, and we still haven’t been told the diagnosis.

The Fayetteville Observer’s Dan Wiederer has been at the forefront of Toe Watch 2010-11, and has chronicled well the mystery that for some reason engulfs Irving’s impaired digit. For example, on January 6th, Wiederer posted an article on his blog in which he reveals the answer he was given by assistant coach Chris Collins when he asked Collins what, in fact, the injury was. He quoted the coach thusly:

“It’s a combination of things,” Collins said. “There’s a ligament and some bone in there that have been damaged. And from what we’ve seen, it’s a very unique injury. It’s a form of turf toe but it’s a little more severe than that. It’s been hard to explain in layman’s terms. But because it’s in the ball of his foot, that’s a really dicey area. That’s where you do all your cutting and your jumping. And that’s where you do all of your pushing off from. That’s what’s made this all the more delicate. I don’t know that the injury has an exact label. If it has a name, I don’t know what it is. But it’s something that we need to make sure gets healed correctly before Kyrie even thinks about playing. Because otherwise he could have more problems down the road.”

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ESPN To Offer Rare Glimpse At Duke Basketball

Posted by nvr1983 on October 30th, 2010

As we gear up for the upcoming season we will be spending an inordinate amount of time learning about up-and-coming programs and future March Madness heroes. In that vein, ESPN has announced that it will be airing a multi-episode series on the relatively unknown Duke Blue Devils. Perhaps you have heard of them? All kidding aside this is the first time we have heard of Coach K allowing camera crews into Duke’s practices. The “ESPNU All-Access” program will be based on 9 days that ESPN spent with the players and coaches while filming practices, film sessions, and leadership activities (you all surely remember that Coach K is “a leader who happens to coach basketball”) beginning with their Countdown to Crazieness.

He just happens to coach basketball

Perhaps it is a sign of Coach K becoming hip by allowing camera crews to follow him along with the previous insights he offered through his XM radio show and the variety of video content provided by Duke basketball sites about their players. Of course the more cynical fans might point out that Duke is just taking advantage of the media (and ESPN in particular) giving them another avenue to recruit and grow their brand (as if their nationally televised schedule wasn’t enough). In any event, this would appear to draw off of HBO’s wildly popular “Hard Knocks” series that followed a NFL team during their mini-camp and preseason (ESPN also did a similar feature on Alabama, the defending BCS National Champs earlier this year). It’s unclear if they will focus on players on the fringe of being cut from the team or will focus on the team’s more engaging personalities. We are confident in saying that no Duke player will play the role of a Chad Ochocinco and Coach K will not be giving his team a snack speech.

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On the Record: 10.21.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 21st, 2010

In addition to our ongoing RTC Interview series there are plenty of other interviews going on across the country and as a way to get you ready for the season and into the minds of the coaches and players we will be bringing you a few of those interviews each week. If you know of any interviews that should be included in the next installment, please send them to rushthecourt@gmail.com.

  • ACC Media Day Chat – ESPN with an interesting idea of having various coaches and players from the ACC stop by and answer user-submitted questions.
  • Q & A with Vernon Macklin - A personal look at the Florida senior center where he talks about stealing Erving Walker‘s car and scooter and also mentions playing on a four-on-four team with Chandler Parson, Nolan Smith, and Shelvin Mack that went undefeated at a LeBron James camp this summer.
  • One-On-Two with Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith – A banal interview with fairly boring answers from the two Duke co-captains. The only somewhat interesting thing is when Singler is asked about his favorite artists and he lists David Garibaldi and Salvador Dali (an artist, but probably not the type that the interviewer expected) as well as Tupac (not the answer that anybody expected from Singler). We also might raise an issue with Smith who lists Jennifer Hudson as his favorite singer “especially when she sang ‘One Shining Moment'” unless he is referring to the fact that his team was celebrating when it was being played.
  • David Glenn Chats With Chris Collins – Has a link to a radio interview of the Duke assistant coach where he talks about the whirlwind off-season including the World Championships in Turkey, Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry, and Coach K‘s legacy.
  • Pullen his weight at K-State – Jeff Goodman talks to Jacob Pullen, the Kansas State star, about the upcoming season. A solid interview and since we are friends with Jeff we’ll assume that it was his editor that came up with the title.
  • Selby speaks out – Goodman stops by Kansas where he talks to Josh Selby about being stuck in NCAA eligibility limbo. Read the rest of this entry »
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Adam Zagoria on Kyrie Irving, Recruiting, and Social Networking

Posted by nvr1983 on October 27th, 2009

When Adam Zagoria, a writer for SNY.tv and ZagsBlog.com, broke the news last Tuesday night about super-recruit Kyrie Irving‘s committing to Duke (note: initial report did not have Irving’s denial and had Chris Collins named in place of “[a Duke assistant]“) reaction across the blogosphere varied from ecstatic to negative after Irving denied Zagoria’s reports. After Irving eventually officially committed to Duke on an orchestrated ESPNU ceremony less than 48 hours after his initial denials and told multiple media outlets that he had decided on Duke long before he went on ESPNU several media members (Seth Davis and Gary Parrish being the most prominent) felt that Irving owed Zagoria an apology. We were a little more measured and felt that the entire episode reflected more of the circus that is college basketball recruiting. Since that time, the issue of the interaction between Zagoria (the journalist) and Irving (the recruit) has grown increasingly contentious on message boards across the Internet so we decided to go to Mr. Zagoria and get his take on it.

Rush the Court: What kind of background do you have doing this type of stuff [covering recruiting]?

Adam Zagoria: I’ve been a sportswriter for about 15 years and I’ve been doing basketball recruiting for I guess about 5 years. I was at a newspaper, The Bergen Record and The Herald News, in New Jersey for 10 years and I’ve been at SNY for about 2 years.

RTC: I don’t know if you have been reading what they have been saying on the Duke message boards and other places like that. Have you been keeping up with that at all or do you try to avoid that stuff?

AZ: I’ve read some of it. I’m pretty busy with my other job duties, but I’m aware of it.

RTC: Ok. Could you talk a little bit about how you developed a relationship with Kyrie Irving and his family and how that came about happening?

AZ: I cover metropolitan-area basketball and I know the players and coaches at the local high schools–St. Anthony’s, St. Patrick’s, and St. Benedict’s–for a number of years so I met Kyrie going to his team’s games and going to different events.

RTC: So your relationship with him was no different than the typical star recruit in the area? Or was it a little closer than that?

AZ: I have a lot respect for Kyrie and his family. I think they’re great people and he’s a tremendous player and person. I wish him nothing, but the best going forward.

RTC: Could you tell us a little bit about what happened when you broke the story [about his commitment]?

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Notes from the East Region Open Practice

Posted by nvr1983 on March 25th, 2009

Because of the NCAA’s refusal to give us a media credential (or discuss the issue and our side of the case), we were forced to go to today’s open practice to get an up-close look at the teams. As an aside, if anybody has extra tickets for the games in Boston for the Sweet 16 or the Elite 8 (in case your team gets cheated by the refs), send me an e-mail at rushthecourt@gmail.com and I might be able to take them off your hands.

The guys who don't want me covering the game

The guys who don't want me covering the game

Let’s get one thing out of the way. The East Region open practice might have been the most boring 5 hours of my life (not counting lectures). There’s a reason the NCAA makes this event free (outside of the fact that they more than make up for it through the $8 programs, $5 Cokes, and $23 baseball caps). The crowd was 95% white males in their mid-30s or above along with a handful of kids chasing autographs from players who they were looking up during the practices checking to see which ones had the best stats. My favorites were the old guys sitting behind me who kept on commenting on how good Gary McGhee and Brian Zoubek were (the tallest guys on the court) and what outstanding pros they were going to be. Anyways, here are my thoughts and pictures (some pictures are from my iPhone because I forgot to charge my digital camera) from each team’s “practice”.

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