06.24.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 24th, 2009

What’s this?  Two days in a row with FBs?  Indeed.  There’s a lot to get caught up on…

  • Duke Downer.  The biggest news today was the news that Duke point guard Elliot Williams (he of the happy, happy feet) will be leaving the Duke program so that he can move closer to Memphis, his hometown.  Reportedly his mother is facing a life-threatening illness there and Williams wants to be nearby for support as she battles her disease.  He plans on petitioning the NCAA to waive the one-year transfer obligation so that he will be able to play immediately at his new school (presumably Memphis).  This is undoubtedly a major blow to Coach K’s backcourt in 2009-10, as he’ll now be left with only Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith to log minutes there.  Big things were expected of Williams based on his insertion into the starting lineup at midseason and his excellent all-around play down the stretch.  Duke fans are largely crushed by this news, given the unfortunate circumstances causing it as well as the huge, gaping hole in the backcourt it leaves (while, ironically, the perfect fix named Seth Curry can only wait and watch next season).  In other Duke news that came out today, Coach K is the highest paid Duke employee by far ($3.6M last year) – no surprise there.
  • Like Father, Not Like Son.  A bit of a surprise today is that Jeffrey Jordan (you know, that Mike guy’s son) is ending his basketball career at Illinois to focus on his studies.  This comes on the heels of news from earlier this year that Jordan’s hard work and commitment to the program had resulted in a scholarship for the rest of his time at the school.  Guess he’d had enough.  Actually, we can totally understand this.  Jordan was undeniably under more pressure to perform than any walk-on turned scholarship player in the history of college basketball, and although it made for nice copy, it’s safe to say that Jordan probably didn’t love the sport anywhere near the same as his famous dad.  He probably reached a personal epiphany of some kind that included a heart-to-heart with pops, and once MJ gave him the blessing, he’s now free to pursue the activities he truly enjoys.  Good for him.  And good for him for working his tail off in his two years at Illinois to go from walk-on to scholarship to expected contributor, despite limited talent.
  • Vegas, Baby.  The WAC has followed its mid-major brethren WCC and Mountain West Conferences by moving its postseason tournament to Las Vegas, where the Orleans Arena will host beginning in 2011.  This comes on the heels of a very successful WCC Tournament at the Orleans last year, where a sold-out, raucous arena was shown on national television for St. Mary’s vs. Gonzaga.  The MWC already holds its conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center down the street, and this move by the WAC means that Vegas will become the basketball destination for every legitimate conference (save the Pac-10) west of the Rockies every March.  Sounds like a really fun environment for fans of these leagues.
  • No, No, NoEveryone got this wrongDerrick Rose wasn’t flashing a gang sign in the below pic, he was practicing universal remote hand signals for the letter “B” on the SAT exam.

derrick rose hand signals

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Et tu, Lute. . .

Posted by nvr1983 on March 28th, 2008

The scene is Tucson

Normally, I wouldn’t make a separate post for a single link to a story from another site (especially one at ESPN, which doesn’t need any more hype), but I figured you might be busy watching games and may not notice this. Apparently, Andy Katz has been busy covering the rest of the college basketball world as he spoke with Lute Olson about his sabaticcal along with several other issues.

For those who don’t care to read the rather long article, here’s a quick summary:
– Took the season off to deal with stress relating to a divorce from his second wife (his first wife died of 47 years died of cancer in 2001).
– Olson will be the head coach next year and intends to fulfill the rest of his contract through 2011 and did not mention any plans of stopping after that.
– Arizona is going back on its previous oral commitment to name interim coach Kevin O’Neill as Olson’s eventual successor. O’Neill hasn’t decided what he is doing next year although he still has one year left on his contract as Lute’s assistant.
– The Wildcats will go back to their roots as a running team instead of the half-court offense that O’Neill installed this year.
– According to the article, it seems like Jerryd Bayless is seriously considering leaving while Chase Buddinger is probably returning.
– Lute is healthy contrary to previous reports, but had to stay quiet on the issue during his leave because of Arizona laws.
– He thinks they can contend for the 2009 national title.

I’ll avoid commenting on Lute’s personal life and health other than to say that he is in a lot better shape (based on what the article says) than most guys his age I have seen.

The more interesting thing is how the Arizona athletic department is basically going back on their word. I can understand wanting to go with Olson because he is a legend particularly in that area of the country. I just don’t understand why they would give O’Neill a commitment back in December. Even though the Wildcats were playing well at the point of the verbal commitment, the AD should know enough to realize that a coach’s performance isn’t judged in December.

Lute Olson is coming back for his job

The other thing I found interesting is that Olson expects to contend for the 2009 title. I guess I wouldn’t expect him to say that he doesn’t expect to contend, but going from a bubble team to champion is a stretch. It all depends on whether Bayless and Buddinger return. Going to a wide-open offense would definitely utilize their talents more than a half-court offense. I know everybody is really high on Bayless, but personally I like Buddinger’s game more and I think he will end up being a very good pro. If both come back and they add their excellent recruiting class, they will be a darkhorse contender as they lost a lot of very close games. In either case, it’s good to have Lute (and hopefully Arizona) back, but I hope that O’Neill gets a good job because this smells a lot like what Miami and Pat Riley did to Stan Van Gundy although Olson had a much better reason for taking time off.

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Who Doesn’t See This Coming?

Posted by rtmsf on August 28th, 2007

Word out of the Bay Area today is that Mike Montgomery, coach emeritus of Stanford University, will be returning to The Farm in an administrative capacity with the athletic department.  According to the San Jose Mercury News:

He is expected to help with fundraising and the mentoring of coaches, a job that should allow him to continue working as a regional television analyst during the college basketball season. [...]  “We’ve talked at some length about having him come back with some role at Stanford,” [Stanford AD Bob] Bowlsby said last month. “I think we’ve got a plan in mind.”

 Trent Johnson

Trent Johnson Needs to be Careful in 07-08

What could that plan be?  The pressure is on for current head man Trent Johnson as Stanford, led by the Lopez wondertwins (“activate…  form of… a complete player“), is expected to field its best team in his four years at the helm.  His previous three years have been underwhelming, resulting in a 52-40 overall record with two Mark Madsen-ugly first-round NCAA beatdowns.  Compare that with Monty’s 74-21 mark during his last three years in Palo Alto.   

From this angle, this looks an awful lot like the Pat Riley / Stan van Gundy situation with the Miami Heat last year.  We can easily envision a mid-season takeover should the Cardinal get off to another bad start (the last two seasons have begun with ridiculous Stanford home losses – 79-45 vs. Air Force in 2005-06, and 79-63 to UC-Irvine in 2004-05), and especially if the promise of this team isn’t fully realized come next March.  With the Pac-10 arguably having the most talent in the nation in 2007-08, Johnson is going to have to get the most of his players this year to make the NCAAs and  keep his job.  Being a high-profile college coach is hard enough without your esteemed and more accomplished predecessor hovering over your shoulder at every move.  The easy prediction: Monty will be back as head coach at Stanford by next spring.     

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