Jumping To Conclusions: The Wheels Are Coming Off The St. John’s Rebuilding Bus

Posted by mlemaire on December 9th, 2011

In 2010, after six lackluster seasons — including zero NCAA Tournament appearances — under head coach Norm Roberts, St. John’s basketball needed to make a switch. But the program didn’t just need a coach who could develop players and win games. They needed a walking, talking defibrillator. Someone who could inject some life and enthusiasm back into one of the country’s most storied programs. What they got was Steve Lavin, an affable former television personality with plenty of coaching pedigree and the desire to talk to everybody he ran into.

Steve Lavin Was Hired To Rebuild At St. John's Because Of His Infectious Personality.

It didn’t matter that Lavin hadn’t coached college basketball since he was relieved of his duties by UCLA in 2003, the buzz was back. Red Storm Athletic Director Chris Monasch said, with Lavin, “St. John’s is poised to recapture its legacy as New York’s college team.” Lavin wasted no time, hitting the recruiting trail running and accepting every interview that came his way. He assembled an experienced and energetic staff and recruits took interest.

Last season, coaching a roster that boasted nine seniors, including the team’s top six scorers, Lavin earned plenty of praise and accolades as he led the Red Storm to a 21-12 record and its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2002. Everyone knew the team would take a step back this season due to the mass graduation but most figured it was merely a bump in the road. After all, Lavin was bringing in the nation’s third-ranked recruiting class, a nine-man behemoth that had a player or two at almost every position. And thanks to Lavin’s effusive personality and charm, high-ranked recruiting classes were expected to become the status quo at St. John’s in short order. Then, rather quickly, the bus started to break down.

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Morning Five: 11.28.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 28th, 2011

SPONSORED: Rush the Court is pleased to bring you a second installment of a one-day fantasy college basketball league courtesy of FanDuel.com. The league, which is completely free to enter, will play on Tuesday night (November 29) involving several high-profile teams — Duke, Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Maryland, Clemson — and features $150 in prizes. Even better, if you beat our trained monkey that we’ve assigned to make our picks (username: RTCmonkey), you’ll win even more money. Test your college hoops knowledge to win! Click here to enter.

  1. This Bernie Fine/Syracuse story deserves more space than what we typically include here so we will keep it simple. Yesterday morning news surfaced of an audio tape recording a conversation between Bobby Davis, Fine’s initial accuser, and Fine’s wife in 2002 in which his Fine’s wife admits to knowing that Fine molested Davis, but there was nothing to do about it, as well as an indication that Fine gave Davis money to pay for student loans that he used as leverage for sexual favors. Fine’s wife also reportedly became sexually involved with Davis when he was older. The tape was turned over to ESPN in 2002, but they did nothing with it including turning it over to authorities at the time, because they could not corroborate the information. Meanwhile, another person, a man from Maine, has come forward claiming to be the third Fine victim, although the man’s father claims that the man never even met Fine and in fact is being charged with sexually abusing a child himself. Late last night, Syracuse decided to fire Fine with a short statement. Jim Boeheim, who had initially defended Fine and accused the alleged victims of chasing money, issued a much less aggressive statement that appears to have been run through a PR agency before being released. We will have more on this subject later when we find the time and can wrap our head around what is becoming an increasingly bizarre case.
  2. Black Friday was not a good one for Notre Dame as they lost Tim Abromaitis for the season after he tore his right ACL in practice. Not only did the Irish lose their best player, but they also lost one of their two seniors on the roster (Scott Martin is the other). Abromaitis had only played in two of Notre Dame’s six games this season as the result of a suspension by the NCAA resulting from a misinterpretation of NCAA rules by Notre Dame. While the Fighting Irish lost both games that Abromaitis played it would be foolish to read too much into that. Their four games without Abromaitis (all wins) were against weak competition. Their two games with Abromaitis (both losses) were against solid competition. This injury should move Notre Dame from a potential middle-of-the-pack Big East team to one that will be hanging out near the bottom of the conference standings.
  3. Minnesota may similarly devastating news coming their way as Trevor Mbakwe injured his right knee last night during a loss to Dayton in the championship game of the Old Spice Classic. While the extent of the injury will not be known until later today when Mbakwe has an MRI, initial reports from the scene and Mbakwe’s tweet (“Lord please get me through this”) do not appear promising. Mbawke, who came into the game averaging 14.8 PPG and 10 RPG, is the key to the Gophers this season and without him they may struggle to stay out of the Big Ten cellar.
  4. Steve Lavin missed Saturday night’s loss to Northeastern for what is being reported as management of his stamina andenergy. So far this season Lavin has missed three of the team’s seven regular season games (the season-opener, which happened more than a month after his surgery, and the last two games). As we said before we are not going to get into the medical stuff that Lavin is going through (PSA test results, post-operative complications, etc), but we will get into the basketball stuff. Right now St. John’s is not a very good team. They are young and missing a lot of what they expected to have on the court this season after the NCAA ruled that many of their incoming freshmen were academically ineligible. Now they have a game at Kentucky coming up on Thursday. Unless Lavin thinks he is going to get his energy and stamina back very quickly he might want to think about taking a longer leave of absence rather than making decisions on a game-by-game basis. For a team this young the change between Lavin and interim coach Mike Dunlap along with the uncertainty of who will be coaching will adversely affect the team’s development. For Lavin’s sake and that of his team, he should make a longer term decision about how he wants this team to be run.
  5. President Obama caught his second college basketball of the season as he took some time off from a variety of pressing issues to watch his brother-in-law Craig Robinson coach Oregon State against Towson in a game that the Beavers won easily. Interestingly, the President was not the only well-known person in attendance as Bill Murray was also there rooting for his son Luke Murray, an assistant coach at Towson. We are guessing that President Obama will not get the chance to see many more college basketball games this season with all the other things that he has to attend to, but with the way the Beavers are playing he may have to schedule some time during March to catch them in the NCAA Tournament.
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits – 03.17.2011

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 17th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with the daily chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.

East

  • When Jay Wright speaks, his Wildcat squad listens. The veteran coach knows how to communicate with his players and that is one of the reasons he has had such a successful tenure.
  • A key for West Virginia‘s resurgence this season has been the turnaround of senior guard Casey Mitchell. Mitchell, who was thought to be a consistent player for the Mountaineers, battled inconsistency and conduct problems throughout the early part of the season.
  • UNC head coach Roy Williams revealed guard Dexter Strickland has been battling a knee injury for a few weeks. Strickland’s health will be a key to Carolina’s chances of making a deep run.
  • Marquette has struggled with defensive inconsistencies all season, but they have had great success getting to the hoop and drawing fouls. Look for Jimmy Butler and Darius Johnson-Odom to exploit the Musketeers in an attempt to get easy hoops.
  • #13 seed Princeton is seeking a monumental upset as they prep to face Kentucky. The Tigers do have a history of pulling huge shockers in March, as they stunned defending champion UCLA in the first round in 1996.

Southeast

  • Kansas State standout guard Jacob Pullen is battling the flu, but is expected to be a full participant in tonight’s tilt with Utah State. If Pullen is not 100%, one can assume Utah State’s chances for an upset get significantly stronger.
  • The fresh infusion of talent provided to Gonzaga by the emergence of Marquise Carter, David Stockton, and Sam Dower have been key to the Zags’ late season run. The play of all three will undoubtedly dictate if Mark Few‘s squad will make any noise.
  • Tom Izzo knows this season did not go exactly the way he wanted it to, but an experienced squad can be a huge factor if the Spartans make a run. Izzo is a great veteran coach, who has Final Four experience, so a big run may not be that surprising.
  • St. John’s associate head coach Mike Dunlaphas interest in the opening at Wyoming. Dunlap has a great track record as an assistant and a lower-level head coach and could thrive as the head man at Wyoming.
  • An interesting story has emerged about how Old Dominion head coach Blaine Taylor has endured bouts with alcoholism. His road to redemption is quite inspiring, as he did not let his demons put an end to his career.

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Tim Floyd to Arizona

Posted by nvr1983 on April 1st, 2009

Update: Apparently, the mainstream media is no more reliable than blogs as ESPN was completely wrong about Floyd accepting the Arizona job. Instead, he has decided to stay at USC perhaps comforted by the fact that he has Mike Dunleavy coaching in the same city to make him look like a coaching genius.

After unsuccessfully trying to woo Rick Pitino and reportedly going after Mark Few and Jeff Capel, Arizona is set to name Tim Floyd as its new head coach according to reports. In the wake of the Lute Olson fiasco last off-season, the Wildcats turned to Russ Pennell to lead the team as an interim head coach. Along with Mike Dunlap, who acted as a co-coach, Pennell guided the Wildcats to their nation-leading 25th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance (if you ignore trips that were later vacated). The Wildcats, who in the eyes of many had underachieved all year long with one of the nation’s most talented trios (Nic Wise, Chase Budinger, and Jordan Hill), managed to get to the Sweet 16 with victories over Utah and Cleveland State before getting crushed by Louisville by 39 points to end the season.

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Floyd built his coaching reputation at Iowa State where he is the only coach in the program’s history to lead them to 3 consecutive 20-win seasons as he finished his 4 years there with a 81-49 record. However he is most well-known nationally for picking up the scraps of the Chicago Bulls team following the departure of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Phil Jackson, has only been moderately successful at USC making it to the NCAA tournament his past 3 years including a trip to the Sweet 16 two years ago.

Floyd’s first order of business when he takes over in Tucson will be to try to convince his 3 stars to come back next year. If he is able to do that, the Wildcats should be able to make the NCAA tournament. Once he does that he will need to start recruiting again as the Wildcats’ recruiting has fallen off considerably with all the uncertainty regarding their coaching situation the last 2 years.

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10.30.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 30th, 2008

What are you going as for Halloween this year?  We hear the Kelvin Sampson costumes are boss in Bloomington…

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10.27.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 26th, 2008

Ok, we’ve got the Midnight Madness nonsense past us, and now we’re officially two weeks away from the first game… 

  • Somewhat surprising turn of events in Tucson in the wake of Lute Olson’s retirement.  The presumptive next coach, Mike Dunlap, reportedly turned down the interim coaching offer, and instead Russ Pennell (a longtime assistant at Arizona St., of all places) will take over the (interim) reins at Arizona.
  • Didn’t see this coming…  UNC was picked #1 in the ACC by, um, everyone.   Over in the WCC, Gonzaga was picked first also, but only slightly ahead of St. Mary’s. 
  • Injury Update.  Cincy’s frosh PG, Cashmere Mafia Wright, tore his ACL in practice and will be out for the season.   He was expected to play a big role for the Bearcats this season.  Marshall’s starting PF, Tyler Wilkerson, broke his hand and will miss about three weeks.
  • Central Michigan’s top rebounder, Marcus Van, was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules.   
  • Here’s Parrish’s Top 30 wings for this season.
  • Cleveland St. head coach Gary Waters inked a five-year extension today after making the NIT last year. 
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Sources: Lute Olson to Retire?

Posted by rtmsf on October 23rd, 2008

A mere two days after making comments to the media that he was “fired up” to be back for a new season, the Lute Olson Soap Opera continued in earnest today.  ESPN (through Rays megafan Dick Vitale) is reporting that Olson is retiring from Arizona after 24 seasons at the school.  (h/t The Big Lead)

Arizona’s Lute Olson is stepping down as the school’s men’s basketball coach, a source has told ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale.  Associate coach Mike Dunlap will take over the head coaching duties on an interim basis, the source told Vitale.

As of mid-morning Pacific time, Arizona officials are vehemently denying these reports.  From the Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA sports information director Tom Duddleston said the news is not true.  “Dick Vitale is wrong right now,” Duddleston said in a phone interview with the Daily Wildcat.  When asked if there is any indication that any of the reports may be true, Duddleston said no.

(photo credit: Flickr)

This comes on the heels of a report that Olson missed practice and his annual Rotary Club Luncheon yesterday because he was sick.  Sick as in, a cold sick, not something more serious, according to Arizona sources. 

The reports further claim that Mike Dunlap, a current assistant coach for Olson, will take over the reins as the head man.  Dunlap’s previous head coaching experience was at D2 Metro State in Denver, where he was an astonishing 248-50 (.832) with two national titles at that level (2000 and 2002).

We’ll see how this shakes down as the day matures, but it has all the earmarks of a solid scoop.  Olson’s recent history of mania notwithstanding, we do hope that his medical condition is treatable and something that will allow him to continue to enjoy a happy, fulfilling life. 

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