Tag:Jeff Goodman
Posted on: September 2, 2011 9:56 am
Edited on: September 2, 2011 10:08 am

Don't call Miami's Reggie Johnson fat

By Jeff Goodman

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - When I walked into the weight room, I almost didn't recognize him.

A slimmed-down version of Reggie Johnson was in the midst of his rehab.

I'll be honest. I had written Johnson off the moment I heard the news back in early July that he would be out 5-6 months after suffering a major knee injury.

But that was when he was, well, fat (please don't tell him I said that). 

That would put his return around the New Year - and usually, 300-plus pounders (Johnson played at about 310 a year ago) aren't able to come back quickly and in shape after being on the mend for such a lengthy period of time.

But Johnson has dropped about 20 or so pounds and is down in the 285 range - and Larranga and his staff are hopeful he will be able to make an impact when he returns, whether that be in December or January.

"I'm no doctor and just know the doctors told me it would be six months for him to be 100 percent," Larranaga said.

"We're going to have three different seasons," he added. "Without Reggie, when Reggie comes back and then with a healthy Reggie. We're obviously a different team with him."

Johnson gives the Hurricanes something few teams can boast these days: a legitimate inside presence and a guy who can score in the post. He averaged 11.9 points and 9.6 rebounds last season.

Larranga has already gone through plenty of adversity since taking the job down in Miami - as I documented in my story last night - but the return of a sub-300 pound Johnson for ACC play would give the Hurricanes a chance to be an NCAA tournament team this season.

Photo: AP
Posted on: August 31, 2011 11:23 am
Edited on: August 31, 2011 11:24 am

Texas A&M submits application to leave Big 12

By Jeff Goodman

Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12.

After some uncertainty a month or so ago regarding the future home, the school made an official announcement today that it has notified the Big 12 it will submit an application to join another league.

That league is expected to be the SEC.

If all goes smoothly – which in the world of conference re-alignment rarely happens – the Aggies will be a part of the SEC in the 2012-13 campaign.

"After much thought and consideration, and pursuant to the action of the (Texas A&M University System) Board of Regents authorizing me to take action related to Texas A&M University's athletic conference alignment, I have determined it is in the best interest of Texas A&M to make application to join another athletic conference," President R. Bowen Loftin wrote to Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe in the letter dated August 31, 2011.

Certainly, this move gives the Aggies a jolt on the football side of things, joining what seems to be considered the elite football league in the country.

However, I’m not sure it makes all that much difference on the basketball side.

New coach Billy Kennedy will now have to compete against the likes of Kentucky and Florida instead of Kansas and Texas.

The bottom line is that if Kennedy is a big-time coach who can recruit at a high level (which he’s already shown in his brief tenure), he’ll be able to keep the Aggies towards the top of the league.

Whether it’s the Big 12 or the SEC.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 31, 2011 8:52 am
Edited on: August 31, 2011 8:54 am

Hidden Gem: Meet 7-footer Alec Brown

By Jeff Goodman

Jared Sullinger was there. So were the Plumlee brothers (Mason and Miles). Thomas Robinson got the invite, along with Alex Oriakhi, Mouph Yarou, Trevor Mbakwe, Aaric Murray and highly touted incoming freshmen Anthony Davis and James McAdoo.

That was the college roster for this past summer's Amar'e Stoudemire Camp.

And, oh yeah, some kid named Alec Brown.

A few years back, in the midst of his freshman season, I watched a then-anonymous player in the Horizon League named Gordon Hayward and walked away saying he would eventually become a lottery pick. I remember telling Brad Stevens after the game that he'd be fortunate to have Hayward for more than a couple years - and he didn't argue.

I’m not ready to bestow the same path and success on Green Bay’s Brown, but he could turn into the next Horizon League star.

The 7-foot-1 Minnesota native was as shocked as anyone by his near-immediate success as a freshman last season, averaging 10.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.

"I was really surprised," Brown said. "I was a lot weaker than a lot of the guys and wasn't confident."

But that's changed after an appearance at the Amar'e Camp in which Brown says he played "OK" and "held his own."

Brown was a lightly recruited, skinny kid coming out of high school in Winona, Minn., and was first spotted by former Green Bay assistant Brian Wardle, now the head coach, in the state tournament when he was a sophomore.

"He was probably 6-foot-7 and was skinny, but had good skill level and moved really well," Wardle recalled. "We monitored him and then he grew a bunch and the next thing we knew he was 7-feet."

However, the high-majors never truly came hard. Home-state Minnesota never showed much of an interest, beyond the courtesy form letter. Wardle said that Northwestern and Colorado were both dabbling, but hadn't made him anything close to a priority.

So Brown went the mid-major route.

"I'm glad I picked Green Bay," Brown said. "Because if I went to a bigger school, I probably would have sat on the bench."

Instead, Brown played more than 25 minutes a game as a frosh.

"I knew he was going to be good; I didn't know how good," Wardle admitted. "Physically, he was so weak - and I didn't know how he'd hold up. One of the selling points to him was he could learn the game on the fly, get experience and confidence."

What shocked Wardle as much as anything is that Brown actually improved as the season dragged into February - instead of wearing down.

"He's a lot mentally tougher than we realized," Wardle said. "He doesn't back down."

Wardle said that NBA execs are already aware of the 220-pound Brown - although his name is still somewhat anonymous to much of the league. He's a legitimate 7-foot-1 with a high IQ, can step out and shoot the ball, run the court and also score on the block. His biggest drawback is his strength.

"That's crazy," Brown said of the NBA starting to pay attention. "I never expected that."

Those are the same words Hayward uttered to me a few years back.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 7:35 am

Trippin': Don't count Cal out in Pac-12 race

In our Trippin’ series, we’re talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Click here for all Trippin’ related stories.

By Jeff Goodman 

It was simple for Cal's Mike Montgomery.

"It wasn't any more complex as I'd never been there before," Montgomery said.

And that's why the Bears played five games in Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

Montgomery said that if his team stays healthy, he doesn't see any reason why Cal can't contend for the Pac-12 crown this season.

"I expect us to have an opportunity to compete for it," Montgomery said shortly after returning from the trip.

What Montgomery learned: "We've got a long way to go fundamentally. We've got some talented kids, but sometimes you take it for granted. They just aren't there yet."

What/who impressed him the most: "It was a mixed bag. Allen (Crabbe) shot the ball well the first game, then disappeared. Richard Solomon played well the second game, then got hurt. Freshman David Kravish really knows how to play and seemed to be at the right place at the right time. It looks like he'll be able to help. Also, Robert Thurman was much more consistent and has really really improved - especially his knowledge of the game."

What his concerns are: "We've got to stay healthy. Jorge missed three games and we're a different team - night and day - when he's on the court. We need both him and Harper to be healthy."

- Bak Bak didn't make the trip because he had visa issues getting back to the country and arrived just days before the team left. Bak hails from the Sudan, but was arriving from Kenya. "I didn't want to risk it," Montgomery said. Montgomery said that Bak needs to make a step forward in his third year with the program and be more physical.

- Jorge Gutierrez sprained his ankle on the final day of practice and missed the first three games before playing the final two.

- Richard Solomon missed the final two games after suffering a minor eye injury.

- Harper Kamp, who has battled knee injuries for the past couple years, played two games because his knee was "acting up."

- Montgomery said Crabbe needs to be more aggressive and not just settle for the perimeter shot.

- Montgomery needs to be able to utilize his bench so that guys like Gutierrez and Kamp don't wear down late in games - and late in the season.

- Montgomery is hopeful that guards Emerson Murray, a sophomore, and freshman guard Alex Rossi can give the Bears quality minutes to give the team some depth in the backcourt behind the four core guards: Gutierrez, Crabbe, Brandon Smith and Justin Cobbs. Rossi, a skilled freshman, is still getting back to 100 percent after dealing with a sports hernia. "It's a tough injury. His body is still behind," Montgomery said. Murray, known for his athleticism, had a plate removed from his foot over the summer.

- It sounds as though Solomon, who was cut from the U-19 U.S Team earlier this summer, received a dose of humility. "He does a lot of flashy things," Montgomery said. "He needs to do more of the day-to-day things."

- Smith and Cobbs will likely share the role of running the team. Smith brings toughness and a stabilizing influence to the table while Cobbs may have more talent, but isn't quite as disciplined as Smith right now. "We can play them together, also," Montgomery said. "Cobbs can play some two."

- Montgomery will be smart with Kamp. "We can't run him into the ground in practice," he said. "We just can't do it. He's going to need some time off because we're going to need him on the court."
Posted on: August 29, 2011 5:04 pm
Edited on: August 30, 2011 7:37 am

Miller will have 'Zona in title contention in '12

By Jeff Goodman

My fellow Arizona alums didn't want me anywhere near campus last year. I was the skeptic, the one who had the Wildcats ranked lower than any other AP voter, the one who just never believed in the cast surrounding Derrick Williams.

Now it's time to attempt to get back on the good side of my fellow alums.

Arizona will contend for the national title in 2012.

With the recent news that elite forward Brandon Ashley decided to commit to Arizona over Oregon and Kentucky on Monday, Miller has done the unthinkable.

He's taken Arizona from one of the most unstable programs in the nation just a few years ago back to where it's again a legitimate national power.

Check out this potential core group in 2012:

Point Guard - Josiah Turner, Jordin Mayes
Shooting Guard - Nick Johnson, Gabe York
Small Forward - Kevin Parrom, Solomon Hill
Power Forward - Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett 
Center - Angelo Chol, Sidiki Johnson

And if Arizona can somehow beat out Kansas for 7-footer Kaleb Tarczewski, the Wildcats could be the favorites to win it all in 2012.

Even without Tarczewski, this will be a team capable of cutting down the nets. However, with him, they could be like the Wildcats of the old days, the ones that were loaded with future NBA'ers.

What Miller - who had absolutely no recruiting ties to the west coast - has done in his two years in Tucson has truly been remarkable. Not only is he a proven coach from his days at Xavier, but he showed he can get the most of his talent with the Elite Eight run a year ago.

He's also showcasing he can be an elite recruiter.

Miller's buddy, John Calipari, dug in on Ashley and came up short. Oregon has Nike backing and lost out to Arizona.

I was a skeptic a year ago.

That's no longer the case.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 11:26 am
Edited on: August 30, 2011 7:38 am

Steve Fisher gets extension; Dutcher next in line

By Jeff Goodman

San Diego State's Steve Fisher will receive a four-year contract extension, CBSSports.com has confirmed, and Fisher's long-time assistant Brian Dutcher will also be officially named the coach-in-waiting.

ESPN.com first reported that an announcement regarding Fisher's extension is set for Monday afternoon while The San Diego Union-Tribune had the news of Dutcher taking over after Fisher retires.

Fisher, 66, won a national title at Michigan, coached the Fab Five to a pair of national championship appearances and has taken the San Diego State program to national prominence over the last few years. The Aztecs were 34-3 last season and went to the Sweet 16.

Dutcher, 51, has been with Fisher for more than two decades. The pair were both assistants to Bill Frieder prior to Fisher taking over in the NCAA tournament in 1989. Dutcher stayed on staff with Fisher, then remained for a year with Brian Ellerbee after Fisher was fired in 1997. He joined Fisher for the last 12 years at San Diego State.

Sources told CBSSports.com that Fisher's deal is worth just shy of $900,000 per year.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 11:25 am
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Posted on: August 29, 2011 7:31 am

Trippin': Va. Tech welcomes in (and back) talent

In our Trippin’ series, we’re talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Click here for all Trippin’ related stories.

By Jeff Goodman

Malcolm Delaney is gone and so, too, is Jeff Allen. Allen Chaney, who was expected to be a major piece after transferring in from Florida a couple years ago, will attempt to play elsewhere after heart issues ended his career in Blacksburg.

But Seth Greenberg is still upbeat and optimistic – and for good reason.

He welcomes in his most highly touted recruiting class since his arrival in Blacksburg (a trio of Top 100 players) – and will also get Dorenzo Hudson, J.T. Thompson and Cadarian Raines back after all took medical redshirts last season.

The Hokies took a quick trip north of the border to Windsor, Canada, earlier this month and we caught up with Greenberg:

What Greenberg learned: "We have an unbelievable group of guys to coach. They are so attentive and so coachable. The energy was great."

What or who impressed him: "C.J. (Barksdale) was really active, especially on the offensive glass. It was nice to see. Dorian (Finney-Smith) didn’t really surprise me, but he was efficient scoring the ball."

- J.T. Thompson was held out after suffering a minor knee injury prior to the trip. Greenberg said Thompson, who tore his ACL and missed all of last season, should return any day. "He tried to play the first game and then took himself out after a minute," Greenberg said.

- Greenberg said he didn’t want to wear the team down and go on a lengthy trip overseas – and instead elected for the two games in Canada.

- Sophomore wing Jarrell Eddie didn’t play as he remains suspended as a result of an arrest for marijuana last February. "He had 10 terrific days of practice," Greenberg said.

- Two starters – junior guard Erick Green and senior forward Victor Davila – both return. However, Hudson averaged 15.2 points two seasons ago and Thompson has plenty of experience as a key guy coming off the bench.

- Freshman C.J. Barksdale got more minutes with Thompson sitting out the trip and was impressive.

- Greenberg said that freshman wing Robert Brown needs to get stronger.

- Greenberg said he didn’t go 10 consecutive days of practice prior to the trip – especially because of five freshmen. Instead, he gave them days off in-between three-day stints.

- Greenberg played 10 guys and everyone averaged more than 10 minutes per game in the two contests.

- Chaney will have a defibrillator put in soon and then will remain at Virginia Tech through the first semester before transferring in hopes of continuing his college career. ``We want to be there for him,” Greenberg said. "He needs to be around people who love him right now – who can help him with his next step."
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com