We haven’t updated this over the weekend because there were some games to attend to, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the college basketball world stopped in its tracks. So here goes…
The big news of the weekend was that Siena’s Fran McCaffery eschewed several openings in the Big East for a job outside of his comfort zone in the heartland at Iowa. His work will be cut out for him in Iowa City, as the Hawkeyes were 10-22 (4-14 B10) last year and appear from a talent perspective to be light years away from the 1990s when they were an NCAA Tournament staple. This article discusses some of the challenges that McCaffery will face coaching and recruiting in the Big Ten.
Meanwhile, St. John’s is apparently taking a hard look at former UCLA coach and current ESPN commentator Steve Lavin, whose hiring would satisfy the Red Storm’s desire for a big-name coach. A west coast guy, Lavin would need to hire a strong New York-centric staff to handle recruiting the area. His charisma and the UCLA ‘name’ would certainly help, and the truth is that a Sweet Sixteen-level coach — which is what Lavin was at UCLA and it wasn’t good enough — is probably plenty good enough for the Johnnies at this point. At least one NY area columnist thinks this would be a great fit. BC’s Al Skinner is also still reportedly in the mix.
Seton Hall has its guy, as the Pirates hired Iona coach Kevin Willard, who has led Iona out of a 2-28 quagmire to a situation where the Gaels are expected to be one of the top teams in the MAAC next season. The Hall struck out on McCaffery in part because their pay offer of $700k annually could not approach what a Big Ten school could offer. Willard was the MAAC Coach of the Year this past season and Rick Pitino is on record as calling him the “best assistant” he’s ever had.
In NBA Draft news, Michigan’s Manny Harris is expected to announce his intention to leave school on Monday. Harris averaged 18/6/4 assts in a disappointing season for the Wolverines, who missed postseason play altogether. The 6’5 guard who sometimes struggles with shot selection is projected as a second-round pick at best, but he will have time to assess his prospective position in the draft before making a final decision.
New Mexico State’s Jahmar Young will also test the draft waters after a junior campaign where he averaged 20/4/3 assts for the season. The 6’5 wing is not currently projected as a pick in either of the first two rounds, so we’d expect to see him back in Las Cruces again next season.