Challenges Aplenty for Chris Collins at Northwestern

Posted by KTrahan on April 1st, 2013

Northwestern announced the hiring of Duke associate head coach Chris Collins as its new head coach last week, and on Tuesday, the Collins era will officially begin in Evanston with an introductory press conference. There was little drama in this coaching search — everyone knew all along the job was Collins’ if he wanted it, and he took it, citing the chance to come home (he’s a Northbrook, Illinois, native) and lead a high-major program. But Northwestern isn’t just any high-major program. Truthfully, it could be the toughest job in all of college basketball. The Wildcats have never been to the NCAA Tournament, and while their last coach, Bill Carmody — a terrific coach in his own right — got NU to heights it had never seen before, the program still lagged far behind most of the Big Ten as far as sustained success goes. Carmody was in Evanston for 13 years and the challenges got even tougher for him throughout his tenure, as he explained in his final press conference.

Collins Has Been a Fixture on the Duke Bench For Years

Collins Has Been a Fixture on the Duke Bench For Years

“There’s not much different now about what Northwestern offers than it was when Kevin O’Neill was here and (Ricky) Byrdsong and Bill Foster and all those,” he said. “So everyone knows, people have talked about it, it’s sort of like an arms race. So the gap might be widening that way.” These challenges — particularly the lack of good facilities and Northwestern’s stringent academic standards — will still be there for Collins. The question now is if NU is willing to do anything to change them, or if Collins will have to work around them. Facilities-wise, the football program is currently receiving its long-awaited face-lift, so it’s unlikely that basketball will get a similar upgrade in the near future. But what about academics, which could potentially be changed right away? Nobody is expecting NU to accept everyone who applies, but right now, the perception is that the Wildcats won’t bend for good players like Duke, and maybe even Harvard, will.

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ACC M5: 03.28.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 28th, 2013


  1. Blogger So Dear: Wake Forest improved markedly this season under Jeff Bzdelik. But this isn’t a good sign going forward, as Bzdelik’s first recruit — Chase Fischer — is reportedly planning to transfer. That’s a bad look on a very young team that lacks perimeter depth (much less outside shooting). Throw in this six-part interview with Ron Wellman from Dan Collins of the Winston-Salem Journal and Gary Parrish’s blackjack metaphor looks more and more fitting. Lacking tangible results (i.e., wins) Wellman’s only defenses for keeping Bzdelik on board are that he inherited an impossible situation to turn around quickly (true), and that he’s building a strong foundation of players who love the program. This latest news calls the latter into question.
  2. Richmond Times-Dispatch: Speaking of transfers from programs that look to be in a rough spot going into next season, Robert Brown has decided to transfer closer to home (likely somewhere in Florida) following his roller coaster sophomore season. His transfer puts the Hokies in a tough spot, as James Johnson likely would have looked for Brown to carry an increased load next year, especially in the scoring column. Johnson has a couple of wings coming in this year, but who knows if they’re ready to compete at the ACC level night in and night out.
  3. WRAL: Mark Gottfried ended his 48-hour Twitter hiatus by seemingly quashing any UCLA rumors saying, “#WPN I am committed to being at @NCState for a long time [sic] Still as dedicated to rebuilding the program as I was 2 yrs ago when I arrived.” But coaches often do these sorts of vague non-denials. The truth is that if UCLA wants Gottfried, the school will have to shell out a ton of money for him (notably, it will have to cover his $3.5 million buyout). That said, I think this is a “dream job” trump card if Gottfried is offered the job. Basically, despite Gottfried’s tweet, this is still something to watch.
  4. Jeff Goodman has a nice piece on the resurgence (or “surgence”?) of Miami‘s basketball program. The real challenge lies ahead, both for this year’s team and going forward. Miami’s ACC championship means a lot to many fan bases, but a deep run in the NCAA Tournament would solidify the program’s status in what looks to be a rebuilding year next season. But if Jim Larranaga can keep the excitement going, Miami could very well be on its way to a consistently relevant program. Think about it… It’s in Miami — how hard can it be to get college kids to come live by the beach for four years?
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: Chris Collins took the Northwestern job, which he will start as soon as Duke’s season is complete. Rumors are that he’ll be hiring Greg Paulus to join his staff (Paulus has been working as a video coordinator for Ohio State, so he knows the Big Ten well). Coach K sounded thrilled for Collins, who’s coached as K’s right hand man at Duke since 2000. The immediate impact for the Blue Devils is that Nate James will move back into his previous position as an assistant coach.
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Morning Five: 03.28.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 28th, 2013


  1. If you are a Minnesota or UCLA fan dreaming about having Shaka Smart coach your team you can wake up now because that is nothing more than a fantasy as Smart announced that he will be staying at VCU with a new extension. When comparing the two potential destinations UCLA would have been a much more desirable destination than Minnesota except that the current athletic director at Minnesota was the person who hired Smart at VCU when he was a relative unknown. Although VCU fans have to be thrilled with keeping Smart he also makes out quite well thanks to the threat of his departure as his annual salary is expected to go up from $1.2 million to $1.5 million per year with the extension running through 2023.
  2. He is not nearly the hot commodity that Shaka is, but Josh Pastner has also announced that he will be staying at Memphis. We are not quite sure why he felt the need to make this announcement because we are not sure which better position (USC? #DausterForUSC) there is out there that would want Pastner as he has not exactly overwhelmed us with his success. Honestly if the Tigers had not won a game in the NCAA Tournament this season we would have questioned whether the administration there should look at moving in a different direction. Instead, he wins one NCAA Tournament game and gets an extension, which is still be worked out. It will be several weeks before details of the extension are worked out, but it might say something about the financial state of college athletics that a guy coaching at one of the best programs in the country can get an extension off of a two-point win over a WCC bubble team.
  3. One (former assistant) coach who is on the move is Chris Collins. As we mentioned yesterday morning the Duke assistant was the frontrunner for the Northwestern opening and last night the school made it official. Collins will stay with the Blue Devils until the end of their NCAA Tournament run with Nate James being promoted to assistant coach at Duke to fill the void left by Collins. As we said yesterday Collins has the pedigree (not only from the Krzyzewski tree, but also from his father Doug), but as Jeff Eisenberg points out many of Krzyzewski’s disciples have been unsuccessful when they are not by his side.
  4. If you thought the NCAA’s mess handling the Miami case was going to stop being ugly, you would be wrong as the school is now accusing the NCAA of having another investigator work with Nevin Shapiro’s attorney. They also accuse the NCAA of other “unethical” behavior including use false statements to convince other witnesses to confess to offenses that they otherwise would not admit to. At this point the case has gotten so messy and damaging to the reputation of the NCAA that if we were the NCAA we would seriously consider dropping it because any punishment handed down would likely be laughed at by the public and member institutions given how sloppily the case has been handled thus far.
  5. The Marshall Henderson story has been rehashed by nearly every media outlet in the country by now, but the thing that gets left out of most stories is the question of why we as college basketball fans are willing to put up with Henderson’s antics and background when the public shuns African-American players with similar problems. The article focuses on how Tyrann Mathieu was treated by the media and his program for offenses that if you compare them to what Henderson has been convicted of seem fairly tame in comparison. A few people will see this article as an attempt at trolling, but to us it seems like a question worth discussing as it pertains not just to sports, but society in general.
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ACC M5: 03.27.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 27th, 2013


  1. Sports Illustrated: The absolute must-read of the day comes courtesy of Luke Winn, who got pretty awesome access to follow Miami around before its games against Pacific and Illinois. My personal takeaways were that Jim Larranaga seems like a really fun guy to play for and that this team fits his coaching personality very well. It’s also not surprising at all that Julian Gamble led the team’s postgame celebratory freestyle.
  2. Gary Parrish absolutely kills it in this response to Ron Wellman‘s backing of Jeff Bzdelik yesterday. Kills it. Bzdelik is losing the Wake Forest fan base at an accelerating rate. Wellman is out pretty far out on this limb and while I understand not wanting to go back on his word (even if he won’t tell anyone exactly what that was), he has to balance that pride with Wake Forest’s present situation. I think Bzdelik is better than his record, maybe even a lot better. He’s also got a great group of players on his team. But that can’t excuse his sorry performances — both in the loss column or the public relations department. And his lack of (tangible) success at Colorado doesn’t help calm the critics. Unfortunately, Bzdelik is a coach who leaves a program better than he found it and is trending upwards but hasn’t shown the ability to achieve at the highest level. It’s a tough place to be.
  3. According to most of the national media, Chris Collins is the “heavy favorite” to land the Northwestern job after interviewing with the school on Monday. The announcement may come before or around the time this article gets posted. Duke alumni are doing well in the job market right now, as Bobby Hurley was just hired to coach Buffalo and Jeff Capel reportedly has received interest from at least two schools. Assuming at least one leaves, expect Nate James to resume his old position as a Duke assistant coach.
  4. Miami Herald: Unfortunately not all of today’s Miami news could be freestyles and celebratory dances. Reggie Johnson — apparently requiring knee surgery — won’t make the trip with the team to the Sweet Sixteen. While Johnson has played a much smaller role this year, the Hurricanes have struggled with foul trouble at times throughout the season. He was an extra body, good for a ton of rebounds and a couple of points every game. Now Julian Gamble, Kenny Kadji and Tonye Jekiri will have to find a way to replace Johnson’s productivity. Gamble sounded hopeful to get Johnson back in time for the Final Four.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: While neither have officially announced, reports came out yesterday that CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown are planning to head for the NBA (though Brown’s mother denied the rumors and Leslie vaguely denied them on his Twitter account). Their departures wouldn’t be surprising, but another name is starting to show up on numerous draft radars: TJ Warren. Warren’s loss would be a huge blow to NC State next season, but his great freshman campaign makes him a likely first round pick. IF this report is true, I’d expect all three to turn pro in a heartbeat.
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Morning Five: 03.27.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 27th, 2013


    1. Duke is still in the NCAA Tournament, but that has not stopped longtime assistant coach Chris Collins from taking time to interview for the now vacant Northwestern coaching job and is considered the frontrunner for the job. As far as first head coaching jobs go it could be a nearly ideal, low-stress job (outside of some high-powered alumni) for a school with no expectations (never made the NCAA Tournament) in a major conference. As an added bonus Collins would be returning to his home state where he was Illinois Mr. Basketball. Or it could be seen as a nearly impossible situation at a school with no tradition and relatively little financial support for its athletic program while competing in the premier college basketball conference in the country. We are guessing that the former argument will win out and Collins will probably take the job unless he harbors some aspiration of stepping directly into Mike Krzyzewski’s job as soon as he departs (without any prior head coaching experience that seems unlikely).
    2. Collins might be on the verge of taking over in Evanston, but he is not the only former Blue Devil taking his first coaching job as Blue Devil legend Bobby Hurley was announced as the new coach at Buffalo yesterday. Hurley (at least this one) is best known for his time guiding Duke to back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992 while setting the NCAA record for career assists, but his family (particularly his father Bob Sr. as well as brother Dan) is better known for their coaching success. Bobby’s time on the sideline has been limited to serving as an assistant to Dan for the past three seasons so it shouldn’t be surprising that all of Bobby’s references in the official article are either from Duke or his family members. We are not sure if Bobby’s name and game as a player will translate on the sideline, but he certainly has the genes for it and for a program at Buffalo’s level it seems like a reasonable risk to take.
    3. One coaching position that does not appear to be opening up any time soon is Wake Forest who appears content on keeping Jeff Bzdelik as its coach despite his 34-60 record there and mounting disapproval from its fans. Fan displeasure with Bzdelik reached the point this season that he had to change his radio show to taking taped (pre-screened) calls instead of live calls and fans have taken ads out in local newspapers calling for his dismissal in addition to the standard website demanding that he be fired. Apparently Wake Forest’s defense of Bzdelik is that he has been cleaning up the mess left by Dino Gaudio and we hope that is what they believe because if it isn’t then what they are doing is a more subtle version of the two-finger salute that Marshall Henderson offered to fans on his way out of the NCAA Tournament.
    4. Before he became a national story for his model predicting the 2012 Presidential Election (and becoming the subject of scorn of Fox News) Nate Silver was more well-known in some circles for his work in sports. Not forgetting his roots, Silver comes back to sports particularly for big events like the NCAA Tournament. Of course, his work is focused on predicting things and following up on his pre-NCAA Tournament predictions he is offering updated odds on the Sweet 16 teams winning the national title. We are assuming that this won’t spark the kind of outrage that his Presidential Election predictions did, but there were some pretty significant shifts that might get the attention of some fan bases.
    5. Like the work of Nate Silver we have come to respect the work that The Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective puts out, but we are not afraid to call them out on their methodology when the occasion calls for it. And that appears to be the case with their analysis of how “crazy” this year’s NCAA Tournament has been. We are usually fans of people trying to quantify stuff instead of using useless, vague descriptions, but when people quantify the wrong stuff or use the wrong methods to get results you run into issues like HSAC appears to have done when they tried to analyze craziness by looking at average seeding of teams in the Sweet 16 rather than something like variation relative to performance against seed expectation. The latter is probably a better measure because a very low seeded team making a deep run is very different than a couple of middle-tier seeds making a deep run
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ACC M5: 03.22.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 22nd, 2013


  1. ACC Sports JournalACC Sports Journal‘s Wake Forest Insider wrote the most comprehensive article on Ron Wellman and Jeff Bzdelik‘s tenure at Wake Forest that I’ve ever read. It also might be the best article I’ve read all year. The depth and knowledge the author shows is remarkable. It’s the remarkable long read where the structure of the article furthers the reader’s understanding. Before reading the article I had a totally different (and ignorant) perspective on Bzdelik’s future. There couldn’t be a better advertisement for ACC Sports Journal‘s  premium coverage. Bravo.
  2. Miami Herald: Ignoring every instinct to post the above article four more times, this article from Michelle Kaufman adds some depth to Miami‘s most surprising contributor this year–Julian Gamble. After Miami’s victory over North Carolina, Gamble charged for the stands to meet his mother and nephew. Gamble’s story is a unique one: his mother quit her job when to take care of her college-aged daughter’s newborn child (who had not one but two devastating conditions), pride be damned. Gamble grew up the father figure for his sick nephew, who helps drive him to succeed.
  3. Wilmington Star News: Marcus Paige‘s recent development is a big part of why North Carolina is a hot upset pick in its potential Round of 32 game against Kansas. Paige, one of the best interviews in the ACC, told Brett Friedlander that he expected the comparisons to Kendall Marshall to come because he and Marshall are both left-handed point guards. He also noted, “I’m sure me picking his number didn’t help stop them.” Paige is a totally different player than Marshall. He’s more of an offensive threat and the new smaller line-up leaves more space in the lane for him to attack and kick the ball out to shooters or dump it in to James Michael McAdoo. Regardless of the Tar Heels’s NCAA Tournament success this year, Paige looks to be a very solid point guard for years to come in Chapel Hill.
  4. Chicago Tribune: It looks like the two favorites for the open Northwestern job are Chris Collins and Bryce Drew, but both have obvious holes in their resumes. Collins, obviously, has never held a head coaching position (though he certainly holds a very involved role as an assistant at Duke). Drew only has two years of experience on him, and that experience is in the Horizon League. The big question isn’t whether Northwestern is interested: it’s whether Collins and/or Drew are. The benefits of Northwestern are obvious. It’s a head coaching gig in the Big Ten. The cons are that no one has had success there. That means a low bar, but it also means tough sledding.
  5. Orlando Sun-Sentinel: Speaking of players really improving this year for Miami, don’t overlook Durand Scott. He was uber-talented as a freshman but something was missing. Apparently, Scott slept through an entire day–missing everything from class to practice–which led his teammates to name him “shutter island”. Now his effort defines his play, as he’s become the Hurricanes’s go-to defensive stopper. It’s a pretty remarkable change from the past couple of seasons.

EXTRA: Roy Williams left Kansas fans with a bad taste in their mouths when he left for North Carolina (though it shouldn’t have been too bad, considering they turned around and hired Bill Self). But his love for the Jayhawks is still very real. They gave him his shot and he put in 15 years taking that program to the penultimate level. Who knows what his reception will be this year in Kansas City, but time heals all wounds (last year’s Elite Eight victory probably helps too).

An aside: This is real satire. Take note Yes! Weekly.

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Morning Five: 05.01.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 1st, 2012

  1. The firing of Seth Greenberg led to a short circuitous route for James Johnson, who served as Greenberg’s assistant for five years before deciding to take a similar job at Clemson on April 19 just a few days before Greenberg was fired. Now it appears that Johnson will be headed back to Blacksburg less than two weeks later, but this time as the Hokies’ new head coach. The amusing part of the hire is that it technically keeps up the athletic department’s directive to move in a different direction since Johnson was no longer part of Greenberg’s staff when Greenberg was fired, but in reality it is not. While that is just semantics the real issue is whether Johnson can bring some consistency to a program that has been a veritable roller coaster the past few seasons leaving them on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday.
  2. One assistant who will not be taking a job as a head coach is Chris Collins, the longtime Duke assistant. Ok, that may be a stretch, but at least we know that he will not be heading to Illinois State according to his father. Collins, whose name has been brought up with increasing frequency during the past few years when coaching positions opened up, seemed like he would be a good fit at Illinois State. Not only was it one of the better programs in a very solid mid-major conference (the Missouri Valley), but it was also his home state (where he was a high school legend), and his father (Doug) was the school’s most famous player. Unfortunately, it was too good of a fit and Chris removed his name from consideration. While this might seem like a blow for Illinois State, who reportedly had Collins at the top of their list, they should have plenty of interested coaches waiting for the opportunity. As for Collins, we expect that he will spend at least another season on Duke’s bench waiting for Mike Krzyzewski to pass the torch to him or, more likely, for a better position to open up.
  3. In one of the more unusual NBA Draft declarations we have seen, Maryland‘s Terrell Stoglin announced that he was entering the NBA Draft after being suspended by the school for the next year. While the school is not announcing what the suspension was for it appears that it may have been to a third violation of the school’s drug policy, which is referenced in the linked article. The loss of the ACC’s leading scorer (21.6 points per game) is a big blow for a Terrapin team that was expected to be one of the better teams in a weakened ACC. Now they will probably be a middle-of-the-pack ACC team next season, which is less impressive than it sounds. As for Stoglin, we hope that he was taking some foreign language classes at Maryland because he is going to need that part of his education in the not too distant future.
  4. After a 2-29 season, you should expect a few changes and at Binghamton the head coach was one of those changes as the Bearcats fired Mark Macon yesterday. In three seasons at Binghamton, his first head coaching position, Macon went 23-70, which is a horrible record by itself, but is magnified by the team’s win trajectory (13 then 8 then 2). We have not heard who is on the school’s list of potential targets to replace Macon, but that individual has a monumental task ahead of him or herself. On the plus side, at least they will have Mr. Tony rooting for the success of their team.
  5. Kentucky fans may have taken quite a bit of joy in the legal issues of Christian Laettner, but now one member of their “Unforgettables”–Richie Farmer–appears to be facing some legal issues of his own. The former Wildcat star has been accused of abusing his public position as state agriculture commissioner. The report released yesterday by the state of Kentucky details “a toxic culture of entitlement and self-dealing at Kentucky taxpayers’ expense”. While the individual acts barely register on the level of corruption we have seen other politicians accused of the number of violations noted is remarkable. From what the lawyers are saying it seems like there are still ongoing discussions if there will be any criminal charges brought against Farmer, but at the very least he will probably go in from of the state ethics board.
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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/

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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