Conference Tournament Primer: Big West Conference

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 13th, 2014

Championship Fortnight continues with the last five conference tourneys tipping off today, so what better way to get you through the final push of games than to break down each of the Other 26′s postseason events. Today, the O26 tourneys starting are the Big Sky, Big West, Sun Belt and WAC.

Dates: March 13-15
Site: Honda Center (Anaheim, CA)

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What to expect: The Big West pecking order finally sorted itself out in the final month of the season, as UC Irvine – league favorites entering 2013-14 – captured the title over UC Santa Barbara and grabbed the top seed in Anaheim. The Anteaters are a stingy defensive unit that holds opponents to the lowest effective field goal percentage in the country, and enters the tournament having won nine of its last 10 games. They will be the slight favorites this week. However, UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State and Hawaii were all competitive this season and each will be capable of making a championship run, or at the very least knocking off UCI. The champs will meet the fourth-seeded Warriors on Friday if both advance to the semifinals, which could mean drama: They split a pair of overtime thrillers in the regular season, including one that featured a half-court, haltime buzzer-beater and a crazy game-tying bank shot. Likewise, LBSU pushed Russell Turner’s club to the brink twice this year, losing two games by a combined five points. It’s the Gauchos, though – led by brawny center Alan Williams, who averages 21.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and two blocks per night – that will be the Anteaters’ strongest threat in the Honda Center. KenPom suggests they are almost identically-matched teams, and Williams shredded UCI for 26 points, 10 rebounds and three steals back in January. The next three days should be interesting.

Favorite: UC Irvine. The Anteaters will be slightly favored this week, if only because their quarterfinal opponent, UC Riverside, is easily the worst team in the tournament. Beyond that, it’s probably a toss-up between UCI and UCSB.

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Pac-12 M5: 01.15.13 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on January 15th, 2013

pac12_morning5

  1. The big news on Monday morning was the surpise firing of a Los Angeles area head basketball coach. Less than a month ago, the odds were probably on the rest of this paragraph being about the end of the Ben Howland era in Westwood, but instead, the “other” LA-area Pac-12 basketball program ended the Kevin O’Neill era abruptly. We posted our thoughts on the matter yesterday, but gave scant attention to USC’s new interim head coach, Bob Cantu, who has now outlasted three Trojan head coaches at the institution. Cantu said he plans to try to speed the game up a bit (but really, doesn’t every coach say that?), may opt for more zone defense, and will try to get USC’s two seven-footers (Dewayne Dedmon and Omar Oraby) on the court together at the same time. In addition, he hopes to get transfers Ari Stewart and Renaldo Woolridge, a pair of guys who have been all but forgotten this season, some more run.
  2. Names like Jamie Dixon, Randy Bennett and Dan Monson seem to be the obvious lead choices for the next USC head coaching position, but plenty of other names have surfaced already, including one who is currently employed by another Pac-12 institution: Arizona State assistant Eric Musselman. Musselman, who has been a head coach in the NBA twice, is apparently interested in the job, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports. But, the question is, just how far down the list is Musselman? And, as always, Reggie Theus is also on the list, at least, according to Theus, that is. And, how about a really deep cut? Former Laker and Lobo star Michael Cooper is presently the head women’s basketball coach at USC. Like I said, a seriously deep cut.
  3. Meanwhile, across town, Ben Howland has turned it around, getting his team back into the Top 25 riding a nine-game winning streak. David Wharton of the Los Angeles Times has a big feature on Howland that does a good job of slapping a human face on the often introverted coach. The article touches on his relationship with his players, his assistants, and, as always, UCLA fans. But perhaps most interesting is how Howland has made the change from playing the grind-it-out, defense-first style that has characterized his last decade-plus as a head coach, to the more transition-oriented team that has currently got those rather picky Bruin fans interested again.
  4. As for the team that USC just beat, Utah, head coach Larry Krystkowiak’s job is in no immediate danger, but in order to make sure it stays that way, and in order to make sure he has his team on the right track, he held one-on-one meetings with each player this week to ensure that both coach and player were both on the same page. The meetings are in an effort to let the players know what Krystkowiak needs them to work on and to hear back from the players any suggestions that they have for the coaching staff. With an 0-4 start featuring three hotly contested games now in the rear view mirror, the Utes hope to use these meetings as a springboard for future improvements.
  5. It’s about that time of the year where, for one reason or another, suspensions and other little punishments begin to crop up here and there around the nation, especially on teams that have had their struggles. We saw Eric Moreland get suspended last week (and it was announced today that he’ll return Saturday against USC, making it a three-game suspension in total), but we glossed over the fact that Stanford point guard Chasson Randle got a slap on the wrist for being late to a shootaround prior to the game against Washington, having to start the game on the bench. He still wound up earning 28 minutes (and scoring 16 effective points along the way), but it’s something to stick in the back of your mind, given Stanford’s early struggles.
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Rick Pitino’s Massive Coaching Tree Adds Another Branch As Richard Becomes FIU’s Head Coach

Posted by EJacoby on April 17th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

Florida International has never made any meaningful noise on the basketball court (one NCAA Tournament appearance in school history), yet the Golden Panthers continue to create plenty of buzz off of it. Over the weekend it was announced that Richard Pitino, the 29-year-old son of famed Louisville coach Rick Pitino, would be taking over as head coach at FIU. Richard Pitino was a Louisville assistant and replaces the recently fired Isiah Thomas, who of course is one of the NBA’s all-time great players as well as a former head coach and executive at the highest level in the NBA. Thomas’ buzzworthy hire did not equate to any success in three years with the program (26-65 record) so FIU will now give it a second shot with another big name. Pitino immediately becomes one of the youngest head coaches in Division I, taking up after his legendary father who got his start at Boston University at just 26 years old. Richard is just one of many Pitino assistants that have moved on to become head coaches, as we take a look at how widespread and successful the Rick Pitino coaching tree has become over the years.

Richard Pitino (Left) Looks to Continue Blossoming His Father's Enormous Coaching Tree (USA Today)

We start all the way back in 1985 with Pitino’s head coaching gig at Providence, the first of three schools he would eventually take to a Final Four. The 1987 Friars that advanced to the Final Four included three young assistants by the names of Stu Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, and Herb Sendek. Jackson went on to become a head coach at Wisconsin and later for the New York Knicks, and he is now the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the NBA, one of the highest executive positions in the sport. Van Gundy, of course, also went on to become an NBA guy, coaching both the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. Sendek, meanwhile, has become a longtime college coach with NC State and Arizona State, where he remains today. Sendek himself has helped groom some tremendous head coaches like Thad Matta, John Groce, Chris Mack, and Sean Miller. In addition to all of the coaches that sprung from the Providence years, Pitino also coached Billy Donovan, the starting point guard for the Friars at the time. Donovan has since gone on to win two National Championships for Florida with assistants-turned-coaches Anthony Grant and Shaka Smart, among others. Pitino’s three years at Providence produced an extensive history of coaching talent, and we are just getting started.

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USC Hires Kevin O’Neill

Posted by nvr1983 on June 20th, 2009

I’m beginning to think that there is some bizarre Arizona-USC connection going on after USC announced that former interim Wildcat  coach Kevin O’Neill was going to take over as the Trojans new head coach. You may remember O’Neill from the Lute Olson fiasco after the 2007-2008 season, but O’Neill also has prior coaching experience at the college (171-180  in 12 seasons) and pro level (helpful if you’re running a program like the one Tim Floyd apparently ran in LA the past few years).

kevin o'neill

To recap the action at Arizona and USC the past two years:

  • O’Neill takes over for Olson on an interim basis, but then Lute stabs him in the back and comes back for a short period before eventually retiring. O’Neill goes to work for the Memphis Grizzlies for a season.
  • Arizona hires Russ Pennell to take over for Olson after O’Neill is let go.
  • Tim Floyd guides the Trojans to respectability before O.J. Mayo comes to town. The Trojans manage to make it back to the NCAA tournament the year after Mayo leaves.
  • Arizona decides not to renew Pennell’s contract and starts searching for big name to take over. They decide on Floyd, who briefly decides to take the job before changing his mind. Arizona eventually hires Xavier head coach Sean Miller.
  • Floyd resigns leaving USC scrambling to find a head coach as it loses multiple recruits who decide to go to other programs. USC gets turned down by several big names including Jamie Dixon and Reggie Theus before selecting O’Neill.

O’Neill led the Wildcats to a 19-15 record and yet another NCAA tournament bid in his single season in Tucson, but according to some sources had difficulty connecting with the Wildcat players. While that may be a problem at some programs, I’m sure that the administration at USC will appreciate having a coach of one of their two major programs who follows the rules. While we would normally consider USC one of the best positions in the country, O’Neill has his work cut out for him with recruits leaving in droves and NCAA sanctions on the horizon.

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07.03.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 3rd, 2007

Quite a bit of stuff we’ve missed over the past week or so… 

  • Iowa transfer and Tennessee native Tyler Smith will be eligible to play at UT next season, as his appeal was approved by the NCAA.  UT just moved into our Top 5 for 2007-08.   
  • Florida guard Brandon Powell‘s arrest for possession of a little ganja results in a transfer – expect to see him at Oklahoma St. or WVU next year.
  • Cliff Ellis resurfaces at Coastal Carolina – we guess there are worse places than Conway, South Carolina
  • Apparently the NCAA will revisit its recently-enacted text messaging ban after 34 schools asked for a review.   
  • Indiana will tear down Assembly Hall (the House that Knight built) and Auburn will tear down Beard-Eaves Coliseum (the House that…  um…  Barkley?  The Rifleman?  built?) in favor of new barns. 
  • New Mexico St. coach Reggie Theus alighted for the Sacto Queens and the golden opportunity to coach Spencer Hawes, opening the door for Louisville assistant coach Marvin Menzies to take over in Las Cruces.  Former UK & Celtic favorite and longtime crooner Walter McCarty will take the open position on Pitino’s staff.   
  • John Hollinger at espn.com (Insider, but if you look around you can find it copied/pasted elsewhere) has a tremendous article on evaluating college players before the draft. 
  • It’s never too early.  Chad Ford’s Top 10 for the 2008 Draft.  While we’re at it, here’s the projected mocks on NBADraft.net (2008 and 2009).     
  • Seth Davis has an interesting piece on the Under-19 USA team.  Looking at Sunday night’s box score – Stephen Curry continues to impress. 
  • UK has signed just about everyone lately, as Billy Gillispie has the Wildcat fans giddy over his recruiting prowess during his first three months on the job.  Oh, and he hasn’t found a place to live yet (has he looked?). 
  • Duke Dorks feigning comedy.  Jon Scheyer acting walking around campus with a camera nearby. 
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